[p2p-research] No place for complacency: The open internet is closing

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Thu Nov 19 06:41:16 CET 2009

From: "Michael Gurstein" <gurstein at gmail.com>
To: <ciresearchers at vancouvercommunity.net>
Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2009 19:54:12 -0800
Subject: FW: [APC Forum] New book from APC: Open internet in danger
-----Original Message-----
From: apc.forum-bounces at lists.apc.org
[mailto:apc.forum-bounces at lists.apc.org] On Behalf Of Karen Higgs
Sent: Monday, November 16, 2009 6:38 AM
To: A general information sharing space for the APC Community.
Subject: [APC Forum] New book from APC: Open internet in danger

Congratulations to the many contributors in the APC community who have
made this terrific resource possible! It is being launched in a few
hours at the IGF!

Please help get the word out by forwarding this press release to
journalists you know. Please let me know if you need it in Spanish or
French. Good luck to all at the IGF... Kah




JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, November 16 2009  - A new report that
reveals how vulnerable the internet as we know it is, has just been
published by two global civil society organisations.

The annual report, called Global Information Society Watch (GISWatch), was
released today by the Association for Progressive Communications and
Dutch-funder Hivos. GISWatch 2009 is entitled Access to online information
and knowledge - advancing human rights and democracy.

It shows that accessing information and knowledge online is not as simple as
switching on a computer, and that the wealth of information available on the
internet today is by no means guaranteed for tomorrow. Whether it is new
legislation designed to control online content, the blocking of websites, or
restrictive copyright laws that prevent poor nations and people with
disabilities from accessing information, what was once a free and open space
for sharing knowledge, is in many ways being shut down. As one author puts
it, the information society involves a "continuing tug-of-war between the
forces of authoritarianism and democratisation."

Key issues at stake

Key issues impacting on access to online information and knowledge are
unpacked in the report, including discussions on intellectual property
rights, knowledge rights, open standards and access to educational materials
and libraries.

The report also offers an institutional overview and a reflection on
indicators that track access to information and knowledge.  48 country
reports -ten more than last year's report- analyse the status of access to
online information and knowledge in countries as diverse as the Democratic
Republic of Congo, Egypt Mexico, Switzerland and Kazakhstan, while regional
overviews offer a bird's eye perspective on regional trends in North
America, Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Middle East, South Asia
and Europe.

Mapping rights: "cultural rights" in Mexico, "pollution victims' rights" in
Switzerland, "rights of the over-indebted" in Ivory Coast

For the first time, this year there is an innovate section that visually
maps global rights as seen through the lens of Google searches, as well as a
visual analysis of Twitter messages sent out during the recent Iranian
political crisis. The two research projects presented are attempts at web
studies where the tool used is part of the analysis, with some fascinating

For instance, as seen through Google search results, it can be argued that
countries have very distinctive concerns when it comes to rights. These
ranges from "cultural rights" in Mexico, "pollution victims' rights" in
Switzerland, the "right to education in a native sign language" in Finland,
to "rights of the over-indebted" in Ivory Coast.

No place for complacency: The open internet is closing

"The value of a publication like this - to cast shadows, illuminate
differences, pockets of challenges and changes - is once again highlighted
in the reports collected here," said  GISWatch editor Alan Finlay. "Not
everyone benefits from an open information society. For those that do, this
is becoming more and more relative. In a number of cases, the authors showed
a lot of courage in  writing what they did, given the repressive
environments they work in."

Ironically, the terrain of access to online information has knowledge
barriers in itself: there are pockets of specialisation beyond the everyday
discussions of most people. This means that fundamental rights such as
freedom of expression, the right to participate and the freedom to learn and
to know are seldom covered by the mainstream media.

GISWatch 2009 aims to demystify the terrain, while challenging the
complacency of those who assume that their right to access, use and enjoy
the content they find on the internet will always be secured.

Global Information Society Watch 2009, published in print and online by the
Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and Dutch development
organisation Hivos, collects the perspectives of ICT academics, analysts,
activists and civil society organisations from across the globe.

The report will be launched at the Internet Goverance Forum in Egypt on
Monday November 16.

Responding to GISWatch 2009, several prominent commentators had this to say:

"GISWatch has taken up the difficult and incredibly important task of
understanding the converging issues of freedom of expression, access to
knowledge and information and digital rights in a global, comparative
context. Many of these issues have come to the fore in policy conversations
in the past decade, but researchers, advocates and policy-makers have lacked
a framework for mapping and comparing them globally. Now they have one." -
Joe Karaganis, Social Science Research Council

"I particularly liked the measuring section. The knowledge economy needs
indices that are both qualitative and quantitative. Keeping human rights
 and human development central in the indicators gives 'soul' to the
measurement. This in my view is one of most balanced access to information
publications in the post-WSIS period." - Dr Buhle Mbambo-Thata, Executive
Director, University of South Africa
(UNISA) Library Services


Country reports in GISWatch 2009
Africa (16): Algeria, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of
Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South
Africa, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe Americas (10): Argentina, Brazil,
Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay
Asia-Pacific and the Middle East (15): Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Japan,
Jordan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kyrgyzstan, Occupied Palestinian
Territory, Pakistan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan,
Uzbekistan Europe (7): Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia,
Netherlands, Romania, Spain, Switzerland

For more information contact
Alan Finlay
GISWatch editor
alan at giswatch.org
Skype id: Alan_Finlay
Johannesburg, South Africa
Interviews can be arranged with authors.
www.GISWatch.org <http://www.giswatch.org/> (New report goes online November

FROM communications at apc.org

Work: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhurakij_Pundit_University - Research:
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P2P Foundation: http://p2pfoundation.net  - http://blog.p2pfoundation.net

Connect: http://p2pfoundation.ning.com; Discuss:

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