NZ civil society gets place at summit table

The New Zealand civil society lobby will now be sending a one-person delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society in December.

The New Zealand civil society lobby will now be sending a one-person delegation to the World Summit on the Information Society in December.

UNESCO and the Council for International Development have contributed a total of $4500 toward the trip, both organisations supporting a strong civil presence at the summit, says civil society moderator Ian Thompson.

The lobby, through its mailing list, has been asked to vote on a delegate to the summit, which is to be held in Geneva.

Meanwhile, preparatory discussions towards the summit are reported to have shelved for the present a controversial proposal to take administration of the internet away from Icann and place it in the hands of an intergovernmental authority such as the International Telecommunications Union, organiser of the summit. A number of governments have been lobbying for control of their own national internet domains under such a scheme.

The proposal has not disappeared from the agenda, however, says a British observer at the preparatory conference, quoting United Nations officials. It is likely to resurface at the second half of the conference, scheduled for 2007 in Tunisia.

"Defenders of the status quo say handing over power to governments could threaten the untrammelled flow of information and ideas that many see as the very essence of the borderless internet,” reports Frances Williams of London’s Financial Times.

These arguments, she says, "appear to be losing force against the growth of spam, privacy and security worries, hate speech and child pornography, which have convinced some governments of the need for international regulation and enforcement".

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