Summary: Working Group on Information Society
Information society and global governance: Access to information and
||16 July 2002, 16:00 - 17:30
Moderator(s):|| • Mr. Thomas Ruddy, Internet Society (ISOC)|
Presenters/ Participants:|| • Mr. Claude Bonard, Republic and Canton of Geneva|
• Ms. Milda Hedblom, International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
• Mr. Wolfgang Kleinwaechter, Communication Rights in the Information Society (CRIS)
• Mr. Daniel Pimienta, Fundación Redes y Desarollo (FUNREDES)
• Ms. Lois Barber, Earth Action
||Yoshiko Kurisaki (International Peace Bureau)
||Jeroen Van Hove (SCI and Mandat International)
||Democracy, participation, e-Government, access to information, the Internet, ICANN, cyber crime.
The Internet facilitates direct participation by citizens in the political decision-making process without involving much time and costs. The Internet thus may enable the development of an alternative policy-making process, which would enhance inefficiencies of the current representation system based on voting and widely adopted by legislatures
worldwide. Such means of public participation also enable citizens, including civil
society (CS), to have influence beyond the national border. Paths of evolution of the democratic decision-making system may widely vary. We are learning new sets of rules needed to formulate a new democratic decision-making system through various experiences.
Ms. Lois Barber introduced Earth Action (www.earthaction.org), established 10 years ago to facilitate NGOs worldwide to work together. More than 2,000 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from 160 countries are members of Earth Action today. Earth Action launched a project of e-Government last year, the purpose of which is to deepen the democracy by facilitating dialogue between national legislators and NGOs on various social subjects. The Internet is the key means of communication for the participants.
Mr. Claude Bonard of the Canton of Geneva presented the Internet Voting
Application, that has been successfully tested and that will be introduced in the Canton (State) of Geneva from 2003. Protection of the information was carefully planned and implemented in terms of the process and technical systems of the application. However, Internet voting will never fully replace the traditional ways. The confidence people need to have in the online voting system is comparable to voting by post. There is always a certain risk, however. The Internet
Voting Application was made exclusively for the state of Geneva to ensure safe
Mr. Wolfgang Kleinwaechter of CRIS, discussed various issues involved in self-regulation drawn upon his experience through activities of the
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The governance system of the Internet is shifting from the regulations by national governments to users’ self-regulation. This is also a move from majority voting- to a consensus-based decision-making process. The major players in decision-making at ICANN are governments, industry and civil
society (CS), but the level of influence of CS in decision-making is somehow currently sidelined.
Ms. Milda Hedblom of the ITU, presented the status of the Convention on cyber crime. The Convention was established as an international co-operation between major industrialised countries, such as the US and EU. Feasibility of its implementation is still questionable as the convention poses a heavy burden of record keeping on telecommunications operators and Internet service providers.
Mr. Daniel Pimienta of
FUNDREDES, introduced Methodology and Social Impact of the Information and Communication Technologies in America (MISTICA), a web-based forum for CS in Latin American and Caribbean states to express their opinions and interests, to develop a human network and ultimately to have influence on the policy-making processes. MISTICA is thus intended to formulate a new means of democratic participation. A major advantage of the web site is a low cost for an organiser and participants.
The following question is valid in nature but was outstanding in the context of the session. Hence worth
A delegate of Cameroon asked: A significant “crime” related to the Internet in African countries is prostitution
which takes place at cyber cafes in towns. There are always a number of young women waiting for clients in cyber cafes. In the context of the cyber crime, has prostitution increased due to the Internet
Two major issues were raised in the Q&A period:
- A question from R. Guerra, Computer professional community: The Convention on cyber crime was formulated with little, if any, consultation with the public. The Convention would do more harm than good to the citizens.
In fdact, Ms. Hedblom agreed that the Convention contains problems. It would take a long time for its enactment due to heavy recording burden on Internet
- Mr. Guerra: There are a large number of web sites providing means for citizens to express their opinions to the public, but we do not know which site to choose. Do you have suggestions to harmonise these initiatives?
Ms. Barber remarked that Earth Action claims to be the only unique initiative at this
point and its aim is toassist citizens and parliaments to hear from each other at one site.
Cyber democracy is an open question. The future evolutionary paths, i.e. bottom-up, top-down and/or other approaches between these two, remain to be seen. Co-ordination between different initiatives is needed.
Presenters' Documents Available
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