Monday, March 20, 2006

Press Freedom and the Internet

UNESCO will be hosting its annual World Press Freedom Day conference in Sri Lanka on 1-3 May 2006, which will focus on the link between freedom of the media and social/economic development. Held in Colombo, the conference will explore the independent media's role in the empowerment of disadvantaged peoples and groups, its contribution to sustainable economic development through improved communication between different stakeholders, and the impact of transparency, accountability and good governance on poverty eradication efforts,

But for most of the world, what actually goes on inside this event will not be seen or heard.

In most Western countries, difficulties accessing information stemmed from an overload of requests or problems with the online connection. However, for people in many countries, there is a cloud that blocks their access to news and information. Despite the high number of Internet users in the developing nations, in regions such as the Middle East and India, the ISPs are government-owned.

The relatively low number of connections gives governments an opportunity for control that doesn’t exist in North America or Europe. If your only provider is the government, there’s a final and absolute arbiter over what you can look at.

Ways a country could obstruct information requests online included wholesale and selective blocking of web addresses, a review of every customer’s Internet requests and legal threats to companies who provide news to countries who view the information as dangerous or unfavourable to its citizens.

While many take refuge and comfort in the internet with their many dissident scribes, nothing happens in the citadels of power.

For most developed countries, freedom of the press implies that all people should have the right to express themselves in writing or in any other way of expression of personal opinion or creativity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights indicates: 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers'

But the talking heads remain the same, taboo subjects remain taboo, and the vast majority remain powerless… and seething.


Blogger CPB said...

I really liked that. This type of post is rare nowadays.

It is true, 1 year ago at the PrepCom2 for WSIS I met some cyberdissidents of the country organizing the second part of the event. I was told the President's family controls the country ISP with the help of a large cyberpolice.

About the country with the biggest cyberpolice we had a great presentation at LIFT06.

""While many take refuge and comfort in the internet with their many dissident scribes", there are many people doing things, like, for instance my friend Curt Hopkins at the Committe to Protect Bloggers or Dinesh Wagle from United we blog! in Nepal and so many others.

I should also recall the Declaration of Principles agrreed upon by the Estates at WSIS PrepCom1, in particular article 55: "We reaffirm our commitment to the principles of freedom of the press and freedom of information, as well as those of the independence, pluralism and diversity of media, which are essential to the Information Society. Freedom to seek, receive, impart and use information for the creation, accumulation and dissemination of knowledge are important to the Information Society (WSIS, Geneva Declaration of Principles, art.55)

I think it is high time for cibersolidarity 2.0.And maybe there are also playful, peaceful and effective ways to achive it also. ;-)

8:51 PM, March 22, 2006  

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