[Hacklabs] Fwd: [Imc-europe] Call for WSIS Tunis

Lars Gonçalves strafwetboek at causaencantada.org
Mon Nov 29 15:02:15 CET 2004

--- Mensaxe Orixinal ---
Data: 11/29/2004
De: "blue.pi" <blue.pi at so36.net>
Asunto: [Imc-europe] Call for WSIS Tunis

Hi everybody,
some people within indymedia have started organizing for the World Summit
Information Society 2005, which will take place in Tunis. Below you find
first call. For more information check

If you want to help us, sign up to:
tunis at lists.riseup.net



The next World Summit on the Information Society will be held in Tunis,
Tunisia. The organizers want to concentrate on governmental and corporate
use of information and communication technologies. This approach fits the
choice of place.
Tunisia is not only a much praised ally of the West, it is even seen as a
called Western model in the otherwise backward Arab world. Why? Because
Tunisia has radically privatized and has managed to stimulate its economy
with the opening of low wage textile and spare part factories, also called
sweat shops, which export their goods to Europe and the US. However, at
same time the president Ben Ali runs a merciless dictatorship silencing

Thus, the choice of place for a summit on information society is more than
hypocritical. While Tunisia is catching up economically with the
North, it is far from any information society if you are talking about the
freedom to information.

Yet, the summit does not only give legitimacy to a repressive regime, its
focus also ignores the social and technological situation in the region.
majority of people in this part of the world do not have access to
If they do through internet cafes or in universities, they often lack the
technological knowledge to appropriate the world of the World Wide Web for
their own needs as people in the North have done. And e-commerce is
certainly the last thing they need.

A closer look at what governmental use of Information Communication
Technologies means and what therefore may be discussed in Tunis, shows
this is not just about ministries designing user friendly website for
citizens. It also means getting more control of technologies, thus also
allowing more censorship and persecution of activists. It is currently
debated whether internet governance should stay with (business-dominated)
icann or move to (state-dominated) itu. A country like Tunisia would
certainly welcome such a shift. But the topic is relevant anywhere in the
world, as governments are trying to cut civil liberties everywhere in the
name of the so called war on terror.

In a counter summit we want to address these issues together with civil
society organizations, media and human rights activists from the region.
Some ideas for further discussions, actions and practical workshop at the
Counter Summit:

1. Censorship
In the whole of the Arab World and much of Africa freedom of expression
not exist. Most countries have state censors who decide what is fit to
or watch for the people, all these countries regulate media through the
issuing of licenses which are hard to get. In the frame of the WSIS we
to call for the abolishing of all types of censorship.

2. Repression of media activists
More and more people have discovered the internet to express themselves
to organize opposition in countries where both is punished with jail.
at first the regimes seemed unaware of this activism, they have now
to hit back. Many media activists were arrested and face prison terms, an
example is the gay community in Egypt. Also in Tunisia and Syria internet
activists are being persecuted. The Summit could be a great opportunity to
spread information about these conditions and call for solidarity.

3. Creating access
To some extend the internet can be a tool to go around restrictive
censorship policies as can low power FM radios be a solution against
governments who only hand out licenses to those who support them. We want
discuss how we can set up alternative media and community websites or FM
radios in impoverished areas and villages, keeping in mind that teaching
people how to administrate their own media is a core concept for media
democracy. We hope to also set up a volunteer based consultancy group for
people who want to build websites providing assistance as well as

4. Right to technology
Access to technology is a human right in a world where knowledge and
information is decisive for people’s well being, their career,
lives. However, much more even than in the North, INTEL and Microsoft are
controlling technologies and their access in most developing countries and
especially in the Arab world. One of their strategies is to set up ready
made centers for NGOs for a period of two years for free. Thus, Microsoft
and INTEL look like the good guys, creating themselves a huge advertising
billboard, and can, at the same time, study new markets with local
sensibilities, while doing low-cost development of Arabic-software. The
output on the other hand, for civil society is low. As basically none of
these NGOs can maintain the center after two years, they loose it. Thus
if some good work is done, it is not sustainable and has no impact on
society, like much of foreign aid it may even stifle activity and tame
root groups.

5. Precarity of Information workers
Whether North or South information workers are ignored by the unions. In
much of the developing world they may not even get any social security as
state policies don’t recognize them. This new immerging work force
may still seem better off than the rest. However, this will change with
growth while at the same time the deterioration of workers’ rights
can be pushed further into society. Many of us belong to this workforce
ourselves. We want to discuss at the summit how we can organize and create
unions defending our rights world wide.

6. Digitization and Access to Resources
A small and limited amount of funding for ICT projects and programs goes
developing localization tools, specifically translation into local
and digitization of local knowledge. Indigenous language localization
such as OCR programs, are still very costly and underdeveloped. We suggest
restructuring ICT and ICT4D funding and investment to take into
consideration both local needs and localization of knowledge tools.

7. Freedom of Movement as a right to communication
People move across physical and virtual borders. People push the
frontiers through digital and physical communication. States and
multinationals are enforcing control of both flows. To keep people from
moving where they want, means to keep them from communicating in the way
they have chosen.

Imc-europe mailing list
Imc-europe at lists.indymedia.org

More information about the Hacklabs mailing list