Victims of Military abductions surfaced due to Writ of Amparo
Full text of the writ of Amparo can be found here

Printed copies available, email rbahaguejr [at] gmail [dot] com

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Internet Governance and the WSIS

Computer Professionals’ Union
Draft v0.7


Instant access to information anywhere in the world is now a reality. The Internet and the development of information and communications technology (ICT) has brought unprecedented enhancement on the way people communicate, share and exchange information, store and retrieve large information and the potential to increase man’s productivity. Companies were established to support the growing demand for ICT-related products and eventually monopolies were created as competition on new ICT products and services ushers to mergers and buy-outs.

Yet the present is characterized with such advanced high technology and rapid developments in science and technology on the one hand, and widespread suffering and dislocation on the other. Despite these discoveries, there has been no concrete benefits and real development for the majority of the people of the world. ICT developments due to advances in Science and Technology are enjoyed by a few advanced capitalist countries and the ruling class of the poor countries.

In an effort, to spread the use of ICT to poor countries and the majority of the people of world, the United Nations has lead the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) to encourage governments to cooperate and build an Information Society “where everyone can create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge.” In the hope, that ICT can enable “individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life.”

However, WSIS participants represent various interests, like ICT development of the third world at affordable cost against the monopoly on ICT-related products of advance capitalist countries. These kinds of different interests which more often than not, are resolved in favour of advance capitalist countries can only make WSIS serve to further strengthen the hold of a few corporations over the internet and telecommunications.

“Digital Divide”

The control of a few corporations on ICT-related products, services, research and development, standards and enabling infrastructures has deprived the majority of the poor people access to ICT.

On September 2005, only 28 countries worldwide have more than 50% of their population connected to the internet ( Internet penetration on other countries is only about 8.1%. This manifests that on countries, excluding the 28 countries, have deplorable ICT infrastructures.

[We'll add pa more data...]

Addressing the Digital Divide through the WSIS

WSIS is a welcome effort of the UN to address concerns on how to “create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge” within its envisioned “Information Society.”

However, if advance capitalist countries, particularly the US, will not yield their control on the internet, then this Information Society will remain a dream for poor countries and the majority of the world population.

Furthermore, advance capitalist countries control almost all of ICT-related products, services, research and development, standards and enabling infrastructures which will continuously place poor countries at the disadvantage.

The second phase of WSIS in Tunis, Tunisia will focus on internet governance and mobilizing resources for its “Information Society.” The first phase held on Geneva, Switzerland has created the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Action Plan.

WSIS Declaration of Principles, without the rhetoric, is an adherence to World Trade Organization agreements. Firstly, sharing of information in the “Information Society” is on the framework of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement. Secondly, poor countries are encouraged to liberalize and privatize their national communication infrastructure to support expansion of basic ICT infrastructure. In addition, foreign direct investments, overseas development assistance and private-public ventures are also to support such infrastructure expansion to connect half of the world’s population to the Internet by 2015. Connectivity to the internet is pointed as essential in the “Information Society.”

WSIS also recognized the need to change the unilateral control of US on critical internet infrastructure, thereby calling for internet governance. Apparently, much of the controversies on the Tunis Summit are focused on Internet governance (IG). In essence, IG wants to make acceptable to all stakeholders the entity that will control, regulate, and tax the internet.

Policy Issues on Internet Governance

There are four policy issues on internet governance. This includes management of critical infrastructures, regulating the use of internet, intellectual property rights protection, and mobilizing resources to support ICT expansion in third world countries. These policy issues are to be addressed during the Tunis Summit.

Most of the policy issues have relatively easy technical solution that can ensure the development of the Internet for the benefit of mankind. But these technical solutions or alternatives that exist, or yet to be fully developed with enough research, is not implemented because the controllers of the Internet does not want to.

Management of critical infrastructures aims to prohibit US unilateral control on the 13 root servers. Regulation of internet use aims to formulate common laws that would address spam, cybercrime, network security and others. Protection of intellectual property rights aims to impose copyrights, patents and trademarks on information shared on the Internet. Lastly, common understanding will be pushed on the Summit on how to support third world efforts to build and expand ICT infrastructures.

Since the opening of the Internet to the public the management of the critical infrastructures that interconnect different networks is supervised by the US through the Department of Commerce (DoC). Management include direct control on the domain name system, Internet Protocol (IP) addressing, internet connection costs, and other technical standards. Critical internet infrastructures include the domain name system, IP addresses, the root zone file and root server system. While the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) exists as a non-profit corporation that manages the domain name servers and IP addressing, policies are still subject to approval by the US DoC.

The control of the 13 root domain servers are on the hand of a few US companies namely; VeriSign Global Registry Services, Information Sciences Institute, Cogent Communications, University of Maryland, NASA Ames Research Center, Internet Systems Consortium, Inc, U.S. DOD Network Information Center, U.S.Army Research Lab, Autonomica/NORDUnet, RIPE NCC, WIDE Project and ICANN. These companies and US institutions can control the domain name resolution of Internet requests.

Whoever control the root domain name servers can monitor Internet traffic from particular countries which is intrusive of personal privacy and discredits national sovereignty, impose censorship, add and remove country-code designation at will which is discriminatory, resolved domain name requests to different address if seen as a threat to national security.

Regulation of the Internet is seen to address the spread of spam and cybercrime, to ensure network security and stability, and uphold freedom of expression among others.

The information sharing community dreamed by the Information Society has to adhere to intellectual property protection laws. IPR protection is governed by the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspect of Intellectual Property Rights and WSIS considers it as “WTO’s main influence.” Among the protected forms of IPR are Copyrights, Trademarks and Patents. “WIPO’s Internet related treaty making activities are the ‘Internet treaties’ – i.e. the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty …as other WIPO instruments that affect Internet governance issues, such as the Joint Recommendation on the Protection of Marks, and Other Industrial Property Rights in Signs, on the Internet.”

To improve connectivity on 2015, ICT infrastructures should be built and expanded to poor countries. On the policy issue for the development aspect of Internet Governance WSIS recommends support through Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), Foreign Direct Investments and public-private ventures. The Digital Solidarity Agenda (DSA) aims “at putting in place the conditions for mobilizing human, financial and technological resources for inclusion of all men and women in the emerging Information Society.” DSA urge developed countries to allocate “…0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP) as ODA to developing countries and 0.15 to 0.20 per cent of GNP of developed countries to least developed countries.”

WSIS: A tool for capitalists’ market expansion

Supachai Panitchpakdi, Director-General of the WTO, correctly described the role of WTO in WSIS, “WTO has the greatest relevance and impact in relation to promoting access – helping to narrow the digital divide. This is because all the opportunities that the Information Society may offer ultimately rely on putting in place modern communications infrastructure and services and extending them as broadly and affordably as possible.” WTO has its greatest impact on WSIS’s lines of action are on: “the promotion of ICT for development; the information and communication infrastructure; the enabling environment; e-government and e-business applications; and international cooperation.”

Building an “Information Society” will ultimately base on building the relevant infrastructure that will enable everyone to “create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge” and “achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life.” Building such infrastructure in poor countries is a way for capitalist’s countries market expansions. The main source of ICT equipments, hardware, software and services are from capitalist countries with saturated local market.

In fact, the WTO already has existing agreements that in a closer look will be facilitated by WSIS.

First, WTO’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA) signed by more than 60 governments eliminates custom duties and import fees on trade in computers, computer peripherals, telecommunications equipment and other ICT products.

Second, WTO’s General Agreement on Trade of Services (GATS) signed by 90 countries opens the telecommunications services’ markets of WTO members to foreign corporations.

Third, WTO has the commitment of 75 countries to open their markets of computer and related services. Related services are not limited to ICT infrastructure but also software applications.

Fourth, continuing negotiations in WTO to expand the support of other countries on the previously enumerated agreements.

The above would greatly expand markets of corporations from capitalist’s countries since ICT-related industry is almost non-existent in poor countries.

Adherence to WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is well stated all over the WSIS Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action. Since 2002, the WIPO Copyright Treaty and WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, represent an “international consensus” in adapting Copyright and other related rights on the internet. Free access to information is greatly restricted by TRIPS. However, protection to authors and innovators is indeed needed but not by giving them the monopoly on the distribution of innovation that maybe beneficial to society.

Advancing ICT4Dpeople

The fast development of ICT however, has made available technical alternatives to address the technical concerns of internet governance.

In the management of the domain name system, control of ICANN or any other entity should not hinder creation of addtional top-level domains (.com, .org, .net). The use and management of country code top-level domains (.ph, .fr, .uk, .us) should be handed to corresponding countries and let them exercise their sovereignty on how they would control its use. The domain name system is a being manage as if there is an scarcity of domain names. This artificial scarcity is the way current managers of domain names want to gain more profit.

In the allocation of IP addresses, the transition to Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) will bury the concern of using up all of IP addresses in the current Internet Protocol version 4. Regional Internet Registries that manage allocation of this addresses should not be descriminatory in allocating addresses to member countries.

Indeed there is a need to adequately recognize innovators, inventors, researchers and the other intellectuals for created new ideas, procedures and the likes, this should not run against the opportunity to free access of this new informations that maybe beneficial to society. TRIPS however would restrict this free access and give more profits to corporations that have ability to do groundbreaking researchers.

But even with the above technical alternatives, their acceptance are still to the mercy of big capitalists countries that have monopoly on ICT-related products and infrastructures.

Any attempt to make ICT fully accessible and beneficial to the majority of people of the world, first and foremost should address the widespread poverty and uneven economic development of differenct countries. On the other hand, this uneven economic development is brought by exploitative relationship between big capitalists countries and poor countries. Unless these fundamental relationship is address, ICT4D, the way UN define their bridging the digital divide program, is doom to fail. It becomes a tool for capitalist countries to further their exploitation in the realms of the internet. #


1.WSIS Declaration of Principles and Action Plan
7.Background Report, Working Group in Internet Governance, June 2005.
8.Geoff Huston, Opinion: ICANN, the ITU, WSIS and Internet Governance, The Internet Protocol Journal , Vol.8, Number 1, March 2005.
9.The WSIS: Moving from the Past into the Future, edited by Daniel Stauffacher and Wolfgang Kleinwachter, UN ICT Taskforce, 2005
10.Andy Oram, Why they're talking about Internet governance,

No comments: