mercredi 16 novembre 2005

The WSIS for dummies

From today on, I am starting a series of posts on the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) which is taking place in Tunis from November 16 to 18.

1) Why is the WSIS being held in Tunis?
  • Because Tunisia is well known for being a democratic country which cherishes freedom of press.
  • Because there is plenty of room in Tunisian hotels in November.
  • Because the Summit should deal with bridging the digital divide.

2) What will participants talk about at the WSIS?
Two main issues are on the agenda:
  • internet governance
  • financing mechanisms to help poor countries to get the benefits of new information technologies.

3) What does internet governance mean?

There are many definitions of internet governance, and no agreement on what it means.
  • Broad definition (eg William Drake): Internet governance concerns the collective rules, procedures and related programs intended to shape social actors’ expectations, practices, and interactions concerning Internet infrastructure and transactions and content.
  • "Sovereignist definition" (eg Syria ): Internet gouvernance is about the set of shared rules, procedures, and processes, including government involvement in the form of laws and regulations (for example for country code top level domains, generic top level domains, and security issues including combating SPAMs), that results in practices and operations that are consistent with the sovereign rights of states and the market interests of the operators and end-users.
  • Narrow definition (eg Milton Muller): Internet governance is the collective action, by governments and/or the private sector operators on the networks connected by the Internet, to establish agreements about the standards, policies, rules, and enforcement and dispute resolution procedures to apply to global internetworking activities

4) What is the digital divide?
  • The digital divide means the gap between those who are connected to the internet and those who have no access to the benefits of the new digital technologies.
  • There is a digital divide between rich and poor countries, but also within each country.
  • The causes of the digital divide are economic (those who can pay for ICT equipement and services versus those who cannot afford), but also social and cultural (ability to read and use information sources, cognitive capacities).
Next posts:
I heard that the central issue is about the DNS system. What is that?
Does the US really control the internet?
What are the alternative models for governing the internet?

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