The Internet is not only about technology and cybercrime! It is also about equal access to the media for all. It is also about non-discrimination against languages. It also about intellectual property. Do we really want TRIPS to stiffle the spread of knowledge? That is what happens due to patents and other intellectual property laws.

Official site:

“civil society” wants to be there, too (sorry, their site design sucks – no go with a text browser, for example!):

A proclamation of what we’d like to see, there:

Current Situation

Lack of Visison

Die NGOs wollen keinen Text unterschreiben, der den kleinsten gemeinsamen Nenner der verschiedenen Regierungen darstellt. Zudem sind die NGOs enttäuscht darüber, dass die Menschenrechtserklärung von 1948 nicht als Grundlage dienen soll. Marc Furrer betont, dass die Texte von allen 191 Nationen akzeptiert werden sollen. – based on an article by SDA-ATS, Berne, Switzerland (1816/bsd205/au/ged/schweiz/ngo/uno/informationsgipfel/ext)

This lack of vision is what I realized after going to two meetings: WSIS will describe the current situation, and that’s it. I would have loved to see WSIS as a vehicle of change; which explains my disappointment.

Lack of Organization

The UIT [1] entrusted with the organization of WSIS is regarded as a technical organization without the necessary experience in either multilateral negotiations nor in dealing with civil society.

The Swiss Federal Office of Communications [2] (BAKOM) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation [3] (DEZA) entrusted with the the organization of WSIS on a national level and taking on the responsability of host organizations, have had internal rivalries and very different visions of what the summit is was going to be about.

The Agency for Development and Cooperation was better prepared for dealing with civil society, and many of our concerns were taken up by the agency (eg. FreeSoftware, in my particular case). Unfortunately, the department concerned with Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) had little impact on the two papers (declaration and action plan).

It seems that Switzerland will be able to avoid the worst case scenario (a counter-summit and lots of demonstrations) by organizing a lot of events arround the summit.

Lack of New Procedure

The old organization of the United Nations [4] with one country one vote has been increasingly criticised from all sides. Some think it is not democratic, others think that it allows bullying of smaller, dependent nations by the rich and powerful nations, and yet others think that the security council and similar undemocratic structures within the UN are undermining the democratic legitimacy.

On the other hand, “civil society” is ill defined. Is every NGO part of civil society? My particular experience was enlightening: When depating copyright and patents, I was meeting with “members of civil society”: I was the representative of the FreeSoftware lobbying group Wilhelm Tux, there was the representative of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, there was a consultant on pro-poor policies, Richard Gerster [5], and – imagine my surprise a representative of the Swiss Society for the Rights of Authors of Musical Works [6] (SUISA) – the equivalent of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)!! Their argument: They represented several thousands of artists and a few publishers. And obviously they were not interested in talking about changes to copyright or patents.

So civil society thinks that something needs reform, and I think so, too, but nobody really knows where this should go. Worst of all, NGOs have even less democratic legitimacy than nations...

Old Stuff

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