Open Letter to World Congress on Information Technology( WCIT) on barriers of Participation #mustshare


9 December 2012

 

 

Open letter to the WCIT

 

 

 

Dear Secretary General Touré and WCIT-12 Chairman Al-Ghanim:

 

We, the undersigned members of civil society, are attending the ongoing World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT-12), both physically and remotely. We appreciate your efforts to engage with global civil society and trust that you will take this letter in the same spirit of constructive engagement.

 

We believe that openness and transparency should be the hallmark of any effort to formulate public policy. In the months approaching the conference, and in our experience at the WCIT so far, we have discovered that certain institutional structures continue to hamper our ability to contribute to the WCIT process in a meaningful and constructive manner.

 

Now that the conference is in session, we wish to call your attention to three immediate and pressing matters: the lack of any official standing to the public comments solicited prior to WCIT at the ITU’s invitation; the lack of access to and transparency of working groups, particularly the working groups of Committee 5; and the absence of mechanisms to encourage independent civil society participation. We address these in detail below.

 

Public Comment Solicited By ITU Effectively Excluded. Prior to the WCIT, the ITU assured civil society that it would provide an opportunity for meaningful input through public comment. As many organizations explained at the time, the inability to see specific country proposals compromised the ability to offer a detailed response. Nevertheless, primarily based on documents leaked to the public, 22 organizations from four regions expended considerable resources and effort to make the most of this single, albeit highly limited, opportunity to engage on the substance of the proposals as they existed at that time.

 

Unfortunately, the ITU has provided no mechanism for inclusion of the public comments in the WCIT working papers. They are not made accessible through the document management system (TIES) in the same manner as proposals submitted by members, nor are any of the comments reflected in the numerous working drafts reviewed by WCIT delegates. As a consequence, delegates appear entirely unaware of these comments, and the diligent work of civil society organizations that accepted the ITU’s invitation to participate through the public comment process is in danger of being lost. From a practical standpoint, the possible help these public comments could provide in resolving some of the contentious issues before the WCIT is wasted.

 

We have no doubt that the invitation to submit public comment was extended in good faith, and believe that the lack of any mechanism for including these comments in the deliberations of the WCIT is a result of this being the first time the ITU has attempted this form of public engagement.

 

We ask that you work with us to find an effective manner to bring these public comments into the deliberations while they remain relevant, for example by including them as Information Documents (INF) in the document management system.

 

Lack of Transparency of the Working Groups. We applaud the decision to webcast Plenary deliberations and the deliberations of Committee 5. Nevertheless, the decision not to webcast or allow independent civil society access to the working groups, particularly the working groups of Committee 5, undermines this move toward transparency and openness. The decisions made by the WCIT will impact the global community. The global community deserves, at a minimum, to see how these decisions are made. By contrast, the failure to provide access to the working groups lends legitimacy to the criticism that the WCIT makes vital decisions about the future of the public Internet behind closed doors. While transparency cannot substitute for substantive engagement, it is a valuable end in itself that lends legitimacy to all public policy exercises.

 

We ask that you further enhance the transparency of the WCIT by allowing access to and webcasting of  the Committee 5 working groups.

 

Absence of independent civil society participation. Finally, those of us attending who are not associated with a member state or sector member delegation are restricted in our ability to participate on behalf of civil society. We recognize this is not a deliberate effort to exclude civil society representatives, but a function of the ITU’s structural rules. Nevertheless, these restrictions hamper our ability to provide the WCIT with the benefits of an independent civil society perspective, and report back to the global community.

 

We are aware that several member state delegations have actively reached out to their civil society communities and included representatives of civil society in their member delegations. We commend the efforts made by these governments and encourage other governments to take similar action. Nevertheless, these civil society representatives are first and foremost members of their delegations and have limited opportunities to express an independent civil society view. While the participation of civil society representatives benefits both the member delegations and the WCIT’s deliberations as a whole, it cannot substitute for engagement with independent members of civil society.

 

We recognize that the current institutional structures do not facilitate independent civil society participation in the work of the ITU. Given that it is unlikely that institutional changes can be implemented during the WCIT, we ask that the two above issues be addressed immediately and that the ITU commit to reviewing and putting in place mechanisms that will encourage greater participation by civil society.

 

We wish to acknowledge your efforts to reach out to civil society and enhance openness and transparency at the WCIT.  We hope you will take our concerns in equal good faith, and work with us to resolve these issues as expeditiously as possible.

 

We look forward to further discussions and to building upon these first steps of multi-stakeholder engagement.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Access, International

African Information and Communications Technology Alliance (AfICTA), Regional

Article 19, International

Center for Democracy and Technology, USA

Center for Technology and Society/Getulio Vargas Foundation (CTS/FGV), Brazil

Delhi Science Forum, India

Free Software Movement of India

Global Partners and Associates, UK

Index on Censorship, UK

Internet Democracy Project, India

Internet Society Bulgaria

Internet Society Serbia, Belgrade

Karisma Foundation, Colombia

NNENNA.ORG, Côte d’Ivoire

Public Knowledge, USA

Society for Knowledge Commons, India

Software Freedom Law Centre, India

Wolfgang Kleinwachter, University of Aarhus, Denmark

 

 

We encourage other civil society organizations and their members to endorse this statement. Please email WCIT12civilsociety@gmail.com to add your support.

 

Tweet, Tweet Justice: Company’s Censorship Policy Probed


twitter logo map 09

twitter logo map 09 (Photo credit: The Next Web)

By Meg Roggensack
Senior Advisor, Business and Human Rights, Human Rights First

In her 2010 landmark speech on internet freedom, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton laid out her vision for one internet where access to information isn’t defined by geographic boundaries or political regimes. Today, that vision is even more remote, as evidenced by Twitter’s recent announcement that it would comply with host governments that wish to censor messages.

Twitter made clear that it will censor only after legal review, be transparent about its decisions unless precluded by local law, and ensure that messages censored in one country are available in others. These are important steps and align with commitments made by the tech companies that belong to the Global Network Initiative (GNI). This also puts Twitter on the same side as other companies trying to address the human rights impacts of their global ICT operations – as opposed to those who are not even in the conversation.

But is Twitter’ s policy adequate? Does it propel Secretary Clinton’s vision forward? We at Human Rights First think Twitter is on the right path, but can do better – by making clear the principles for evaluating the legitimacy of requests, and by mounting tough challenges to requests that conflict with national and international guarantees of free expression.

As Secretary Clinton observed in her speech, “The internet will be what we make of it…we need to [take affirmative steps to] synchronize our technological progress with our values.” This can only happen if Twitter and other companies in the ICT sector work harder to realize this vision of a single, unified internet. We’re concerned that Twitter’s new policy is likely to encourage more censorship, not less.

How will Twitter’s new policy affect the overall integrity of its global service? Will there be any jurisdiction where the entirety of Twitter’s messages will be available to users, as Secretary Clinton envisioned, or will Twitter’s service be a Swiss cheese of big and small holes, reflecting censorship preferences around the globe?

Twitter has proven in the past that there’s a better way to handle these requests. It successfully challenged a U.S. federal court’s gag order associated with Wikileaks and then informed the targets of the subpoena so that they could challenge the order. In conveying its new policy, Twitter should make clear that it will aggressively challenge these restrictions, based on available national and international rights guarantees. Many authoritarian governments have broad constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression and/or have signed on to international treaties. Twitter should use these guarantees to elaborate and publish its criteria for screening such requests, and should mount constitutional challenges when pressed. This would leave no doubt about Twitter’s commitment to internet freedom.

Twitter was instrumental to the Arab Spring as one of the few platforms that activists could use to organize and disseminate their views. One year later, Twitter’s role in bringing about political reform is even greater. As Human Rights First heard from a prominent Egyptian pro-democracy leader two weeks ago, Twitter has become the platform for activists. It is easy to use, quick, and searchable.

Without the ability to freely view and post tweets, Twitter’s users, including pro-democracy and human rights activists, can’t communicate, organize, and advocate in real time. Even if the rest of us are able to read tweets that repressive governments censor, tweets that are not accessible to the original posters and their networks are deprived of their utility and transformative power.

Twitter should build on the important safeguards it has announced. And Twitter’s dilemma should spark all ICT companies to think carefully about how the choices they make today will affect the internet we use tomorrow.

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,228 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,847,601 hits

Archives

September 2021
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930  
%d bloggers like this: