[Fsf-friends] World Information Summit... or Sellout Summit?

FN fred@bytesforall.org
Tue, 4 Feb 2003 15:38:37 +0530 (IST)

This looks like an absolute sellout. In the name of ensuring information
to those dying from the lack of it, the dominant powers of our times seem
keen to sell more products, push their priorities on the rest of the
globe, rake up non-issues and place them center-stage, and push ahead
their pet peeves of the moment (e.g. fighting 'terrorism' without thinking
about justice). Can someone convince me otherwise? FN
PS: "Vital role for intellectual property in innovation"? What about the
vital role for sharing -- whether it is of software or knowledge -- in
solving this world's problems? 


   WSIS delegates fail to agree on open-source 'support'
   Draft was changed after objections by U.S.
   By  [19]Martyn  Williams January 15, 2003
   TOKYO -- A three-day meeting that brought together Asian governments,
   organizations, companies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
   ended Wednesday morning with the approval of a declaration that, among
   other things, calls for encouraging the development of open-source
   software. A draft of the declaration had called for open source to be
   "supported" but was changed after objections from the U.S. government
   delegation late Tuesday night.
   The U.S. opposition was largely perceived to be support for its
   domestic software companies and in particular Microsoft, said
   officials from other governments on the sidelines of the conference on
   Wednesday. After a short debate with a number of countries, including
   Pakistan, that wanted the original language to remain, all sides
   finally reached agreement and the declaration was changed to read:
   "Development and deployment of open-source software should be
   encouraged, as appropriate, as should open standards for ICT
   (information and communications technology) networking."
   The change was one of a number made during a late-night session at the
   end of the second day of the Asian Regional Conference. The event is
   one of a number of conferences being held around the world to solicit
   regional input for the World Summit on the Information Society, a
   government-leader level U.N. summit that will take place in December
   this year in Geneva, Switzerland, and in Tunis in 2005.
   At the meeting, representatives of 48 countries, 21 international
   organizations, 53 private sector entities and 116 NGOs discussed a
   number of issues related to the information society and debated over
   the content of the final output of the meeting, a document called the
   Tokyo Declaration. The declaration will go forward to a meeting in
   Geneva next month and bring together participants from around the
   world as part of the large planning process that must precede the
   December summit.
   The declaration touched on a wide range of issues related to the
   information society and included a call for greater information
   security, a balance between content owners and users in the area of
   intellectual property rights, and more work on the digital divide.
   The lack of awareness of the need for information security was
   recognized as a weakness for the Asia-Pacific region. The declaration
   touched upon the need for greater awareness of cybercrime and
   cyberterrorism while recognizing that equal and fair access to
   information technology is also important.
   "Special attention should be paid to the fact that ICTs can
   potentially be used for purposes that are inconsistent with the
   objectives of maintaining international stability and security, and
   may adversely affect the integrity of the infrastructure within
   states, to the detriment of their security in both civil and military
   fields," it said.
   In the area of copyright, the declaration recognized the "vital role"
   that intellectual property rights play in innovation in software,
   e-commerce and related areas, but also noted the need to strike a fair
   balance between such rights and the interests of users.
   The same two areas were identified by a Japanese government official
   as possible areas of which participants to WSIS in December will agree
   require the creation of a legal and policy framework that spans
   international borders. Agreement on the need to create a global legal
   and policy framework for the information society is one of several
   goals already identified for the summit.
   "I think the big issues that need to be tackled are intellectual
   property rights and information security," said Yoshio Tsukio, vice
   minister for policy coordination and Japan's Ministry of Public
   Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications (MPHPT).
   The conference heard more pledges to bridge the digital divide and
   several points in the declaration focused on extending the benefits of
   the information society to the poor and otherwise disadvantaged.
   "The digital divide unfortunately is widening," said Kim Hak Su, the
   executive secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social
   Commission for the Asia-Pacific and the U.N.'s highest ranking
   official in Asia.
   "It is not only between the countries but within the countries and
   between generations and the able-bodied and disabled. The
   international community is trying to help to assist those countries
   who do not have a national strategy and a national political
   commitment is also essential. Also, the Government of Japan is
   offering a substantial ODA (overseas development aid) package to
   developing member countries," he told IDG News Service.
   "This digital divide will be with us for some years to come and we
   have to work very hard. There is no magic formula but we should work
   hard," he said. Kim admitted that promises to help have been made
   before and the problem often comes down to paying for things. "We need
   the private sector to do many things. Governments cannot do everything
   "We need more money and more discussion but Tokyo has set the
   direction," he said. "The direction is right and WSIS could be
   important because political commitment is also important."
   Speaking after the event, a number of NGOs that had taken part in the
   summit said they were broadly satisfied with the outcome but had hoped
   for greater commitment in a number of areas such as a social justice.
   They were satisfied with the inclusion of a reference to human rights
   in the declaration, despite some attempts to change it, they said.
   The groups also repeated protests over the deregistration of NGOs from
   Taiwan on Tuesday as the result of repeated protests by the Chinese
   government delegation.
   "There is discrimination against the principles of WSIS for a
   comprehensive inclusion of all stakeholders in the information society
   including civil society, which includes Taiwanese NGOs as well," said
   Chuang Chiting, the international affairs director of the Taiwan
   Association for Human Rights.
   "As Taiwan is a very powerful ICT country and it provides major input
   to the information society, we do hope our voices can be heard and be
   constructive towards a better future in the international community,"
   she said. The representatives were allowed to stay at the meeting
   under the affiliation of a Japanese NGO.
   [23]Martyn Williams is a Tokyo correspondent for the IDG News Service,
   an InfoWorld affiliate.

Frederick Noronha    : http://www.bytesforall.org : When we speak of free
Freelance Journalist : Goa India 403511           : software we refer to
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