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The research-competition programme focused on issues relating to equity and the need to cybber the technological and socioeconomic divide that has traditionally excluded certain urban and rural groups. A jury panel of international experts defined the parameters of the competition and, in earlyselected the eight winning projects. This publication presents the of those research projects in the hope that they may help to break new ground in the region by stimulating debate about public policies for the Internet, its potential ificance for encouraging citizen participation and, consequently, for building a new political culture based on the right to communication and culture and Internet rights that will provide citizens with free access to knowledge and information under principles of social and cultural equity.
The ideas and experiences presented sec this book are the product of the eight winning research projects from the competition. They address the social impact of the Internet in the context of schooling case studies from Colombia, Chile and Argentina and local governance case studies from Montevideo, Buenos Aires, and the Chilean towns of Rancagua, Puente Alto and Hauti Bosque. The volume also includes a description of two tools that were developed in the course of the competition.
The research projects themselves, as well as the tools described above, were presented during an international seminar on Communication, Internet and Society in Latin America, which was held in Quito on May 16 and 17, This book also contains articles written by six ssex who participated in that event, relating to copyright and the Internet; a proposal for franchising telecentres; public policies for the Internet; an analysis of MISTICA, a virtual community experiment; and a description of a project for monitoring Internet policies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
We also wish to thank the FLACSO-Ecuador team, and in particular Wilson Pancho, manager of the computerization division, for their assiduous work in deing the competition's web site and the research programme's Internet communication systems. As well, we are grateful to Cristina Wholerman for her help with the organization and logistics for the planning sessions that were held during the project's preparatory phase.
Nor can we overlook the unconditional support provided to us by all the research coordinators and teams from the winning institutions and by the speakers who so kindly took part in the presentation seminar and in the preparation of this publication. Specializes in pedagogical and research projects on the cultural consumption of information and communication technologies ICTs in school settings. Specialist and researcher in the cultural consumption of the Internet in Latin America from the viewpoint of political and symbolic anthropology.
Degree in psychology from the National University of Colombia. Specialization in educational communication, Universidad Central, Colombia. Engaged in pedagogical and ethnographic research on the appropriation of ICTs in schools. Specializes in chaat of the social Internet in communities and in local development. Devotes his career to rloms research in information sciences and natural resource management, with a special focus on social approaches to development issues, primarily in Latin America.
Engaged in research and teaching related to the development of ICTs in urban environments and their impact on citizen participation in local government. International consultant and researcher who has conducted many multidisciplinary projects on issues relating to public policy, human rights and the administration of justice, and the de and implementation of information systems. Currently pursuing doctoral studies in political science, University of Pittsburgh.
Sociologist, researcher and teacher at the Rooks de Investigaciones Gino Germani, UBA, specializing in interdisciplinary urban studies relating to governance, citizenship and the new information society. Specialist in the de of international projects on the implementation of ICTs as part of the educational reform process. Expert in the development of qualitative and quantitative tools for education research.
PhD in Sociology, University of Pittsburgh. Researcher, teacher and consultant on social policies with an ICT haytti. Doctor of Informatics, University of Nice, France. Researcher and specialist in ICT projects for developing countries. Specialist in the history and critique of architecture and hqyti development, University of Buenos Aires. Specialist in matters relating to urban utilities, geographic information systems, technical innovation and society. Author of various socio cultural anthropology studies.
Researcher and university lecturer on urban issues relating to networks, technical innovation and the information society. Uca Silva Chilean communicator. Honours degree in communication, University of Ottawa, Canada, and master's degree in communication, Universidad Diego Portales, Chile. Specialist in studies on ICTs, citizen communication and participation, communication and gender. Researcher and teacher in the pedagogy and applications of ICTs for learning. Manager of several educational projects on the use of the Internet in the school systems of Argentina and Latin America.
This intentionally left blank. Introduction This intentionally left blank. The Internet 1 and its impact on Latin American and Caribbean society: Research and dialogue Marcelo Bonilla and Gilles Cliche Introduction Globalization is a process of aesthetic, cultural and economic change, characterized by a series of complex phenomena at both the global and the local levels — for example, there is an ongoing reconfiguration of the functions of states as the principal players in social policy and as the wielders of sovereign jurisdiction within their territories.
Other phenomena that characterize the globalization context are the explosion of old patterns of government organization into an infinite of national expressions and the growing role of large transnational enterprises as their international capital base expands.
These groups are seeking a more equitable social model, in the face of the obviously unjust distribution of material and symbolic goods and the state's abandonment cbyer its leading role in social policies. We may summarize these ideas of globalization as representing a new field of competition in which two different currents and philosophies collide: on one hand, the spreading imposition of a system governed by large transnational consortia and based on the principles rehion accumulation, utility, efficiency and productivity, and on the chaat hand, the resistance of local cultures and groups which, by actively reinventing their identities and ways of life, are dooms to adapt and survive in the face of this dominant pattern.
This process, at once global and local, tends to weaken national sovereignty, specifically that of developing countries, and to promote the concentration of wealth and knowledge among the elites of industrialized countries. While the ratio between the lowest and highest quintiles internationally is 0. This gap between worlds, regions, countries and groups of people takes on complex dimensions because of persistent tendencies towards cultural exclusion, through ethnic, racial, gender 5 or generational segregation.
The consequence of this new global model of inequality and exclusion makes itself felt in the inability of marginal social groups and segments to participate in society. The new information and communication technologies ICTsespecially the Internet, which are growing at a pace unprecedented in human history, 6 are part, and indeed chta instruments, of this inequitable concentration of symbolic and material incomes at the world level.
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Cyberspace and its "Web" constitutes a field that stimulates the unequal and inequitable exchanges that cha the present-day world of globalization and exclusion; 7 the selective distribution of this tool and its language produces and deepens the symbolic and material gap referred to above. In Latin America and the Caribbean, use of this technology has spread widely reglon geographic terms, but it is of benefit only to specific groups: the national and regional elites.
This situation of cultural exclusion points dhat the need for research into the social impact of the Internet within the cycles of cultural and economic production and consumption in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region in which we find, at the same time, the selective spread of the Internet, massive growth in the consumption of symbolic products or their messages via television, and steady impoverishment among the cyat, characterized by sharply declining incomes.
This initiative led to the selection 10 within the region of eight research projects on the social impact of ICTs in four priority development areas: 1 education and culture, 2 democracy and citizenship, 3 regionn and justice, and 4 se for evaluating the social impact of the Internet. This introductory cybr does rsgion attempt to summarize or describe the eight winning projects.
We have focused on a limited of critical issues 12 common zex all the research projects and articles that make up this book and that are sec for the study and de of public policies for communication and Internet culture consistent with the principle of social and cultural equity. The reader gayti have the opportunity to learn about the eight research projects in the main body of this book, which also includes contributions from six specialists 13 on Internet copyright issues, public policies relating to the Internet, a proposed franchising system for telecentres and an analysis of experience with the MISTICA virtual community in building an equitable and socially responsible Internet culture.
In the first part of this paper, entitled "The instrumental view of technology and the construction of a new habitus for the flow of knowledge", we contrast Internet practices that were identified in school projects based on case studies from Chile and Colombia and in governance at the municipal level based on case studies from Buenos Aires, Montevideo and the Chilean towns of El Bosque, Puente Alto, Los Andes and Rancagua with the concept of the Internet as a new symbolic field for the flow and exchange of cultural capital and as a system for distributing s and symbols knowledge through an innovative education initiative introduction of the Internet in the school system of Pinamar, Argentinaas well as the establishment of the MISTICA virtual community.
In the second theme for consideration, entitled "The Internet, a space for reproducing the dominant order and the emergence of new cultural propositions", we examine how the logic underlying traditional uses, viewpoints and power relationships is reproduced by introducing ICTs into schools and by experiments in local governance analyzed in the case studies referred to above. We also look at the tensions that arise between this dominant philosophy and the emergence of a new way of representing and constructing social relationships cybef by the Internet, a contradictory dynamic that poses the principal challenges for managers of ICT projects and policies, in terms of incorporating them creatively into local spaces and cultures as a language and instrument for supporting social change.
In this analysis, we include a case study that addresses the incorporation of ICTs into the schools of two communities Tanti and Zapala in Argentina. Under the third theme, entitled "Challenges in building a fair and equitable legal framework for the Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean", we ses the importance of reinforcing the "right to communication chta culture" and "Internet rights", as hayri starting point for the strategic changes that are needed in the juridical frameworks of Latin America and the Caribbean consistent wex the construction of an Internet culture that respects personal and collective rights.
We focus on the issue of ICTs in relation to the individual's right to privacy, problems of copyright law, and the right to communication as the foundation of a system of community telecentres. The conclusion of this paper, entitled "The Internet: an environment and a tool for building a new political culture", presents some ideas about the need to promote alliances among civil society organizations, the academic world, government and the private sector, as a way to build an information society based on freedom of communication, citizen participation and collective access to knowledge.
These ideas are the central thread of the conclusion. The predominant approach today neglects the social dimension and function of ICTs as part of the processes of producing, consuming and distributing knowledge. Miguel Angel Arredondo, in his research report on "Introducing new information and communication technologies in two rural schools of central Chile" see discussion on "the school routine and the use of ICTs"argues that this lack of integration is reflected in the ritual practices that school authorities insist on as jayti rules for students wanting to use computers e.
These habits reflect a view that makes the computer something sacrosanct, while in effect reducing it to just one more roomss tool reglon the school system. He notes that priority is given to technical training which converts the computer into a simple database tool rather than stressing its potential as an instrument for communication and creativity.
Reducing ICTs to a tool in this way loses sight of their potential for fostering new relationships, new teaching methods and new forms of communication and learning. We find similar phenomena in terms of the instrumental use of the Internet in experiments with introducing ICTs at the local government level.
The research team headed by Susana Finquelievich, which examined experiments for incorporating ICTs into local government in Buenos Chzt and Montevideo, shows how the Internet has played only a very conventional role in disseminating information, as a kind of newsletter "promoting traditional governance", without attempting to foster a culture of citizen participation or "cyber citizenship" see their "Does Buenos Aires have electronic government?
Uca Silva, in a study on the social impact of new ICTs in the Chilean towns of El Bosque, Puente Alto, Los Andes and Rancagua, shows how sed introduction of ICTs in these towns has merely served the internal needs of local governments to improve their political information or marketing services see Silva on "The relationship between the municipality and the community". As we can see, the instrumental approach to using ICTs is the predominant wex, both in the school system and in local chaat, and it fails to appreciate the Internet as a new language or system of representation and communication: learning to use it requires the transmission of cultural or symbolic capital that will empower citizens and allow them to appropriate this strategic tool.
Particularly noteworthy in this regard is the work of the team from the National University of Quilmes, coordinated by Ester Schiavo, which set out to create a new habitus 16 for the citizen, i. We have included a detailed description of this experiment in the present book. As will be appreciated, there are two conflicting tendencies or approaches when it comes to introducing ICTs in schools or in local governance: the predominant approach, which regards the Internet as a technical tool, versus the approach that seeks to restore its potential cchat a system of communication and of constructing representations, new forms of learning and social participation.
In the next section, we consider how these two currents meet. The Internet, a space for reproducing the hayyi order and the emergence of new cultural propositions The Internet does not produce change by itself, since it is surrounded by cultural, political and social orders and contexts and, generally, has been converted into sez extension of existing power institutions.
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In the education field, Arredondo shows how the disciplinary system of the school is reproduced through the use of ICT and how this new language or tool is reduced to a means of exerting control and power within the school. The computer classroom becomes a strategic part of the school disciplinary system e. On the other hand, this space becomes a point where the teacher loses authority, since the informal dynamics of interchange that it generates between students during computer practice tend to neutralize and diminish the teacher's capacity to control.
In this respect, the virtual classroom is an arena in which students' playful pursuits collide with teachers' authority: it is an amorphous, ill-defined field, one without rules or a predetermined structure to order the process of learning and teaching.
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Arredondo and Cabrera see this failure to incorporate ICTs into school culture as a product of the lack of a comprehensive teaching philosophy, which is just part of the broader issue of bringing about in-depth change in the relationships and methods that apply to teaching and learning. The virtual classroom, through the computer screen, becomes a way rooma escaping the teacher's control.
The Internet marks the frontier between experience inside sed outside the classroom, inside and outside the educational order.
This point of conflict also marks the tension between the book-based culture, conceived as a form of pedagogical relationship and control over the student, and new forms of learning by navigating in cyberspace, which students pursue outside the school and away from the teacher's control. This duality between the two cha currents or philosophies requires a systematic effort at integration and synthesis that will incorporate the language of ICTs into school life and local culture, as part of a meaningful change in conventional teaching and learning methods.
The same tension between traditional ways of exercising power and the emerging Internet culture, external to institutions, can be seen in the area of citizenship and local governance. The projects that addressed this issue arrived at a common conclusion: introducing ICTs into current models of electronic government merely serves to reproduce paternalistic local power relationships.
Uca Silva shows how the web sites of the Chilean towns studied are used as a conduit for promoting the image of local leaders and in this way diluting the link between the municipal government and the citizenry, which should be strengthened by the introduction of ICTs see Silva on "The relationship between the municipality and the community". Along the same lines, the team coordinated by Susana Finquelievich describes how local government practices in Buenos Aires and Montevideo do not encourage the use of ICTs, since this instrument is reduced to the function of a bulletin board or newsletter via the Web and loses sight of the kind of citizen interaction that could be achieved through the social use of ICTs see their "Does Buenos Aires have electronic government?
In school life we find anachronistic and paternalistic power relationships surrounding the use of ICTs. In his ethnographic study, Hayyti describes how, in rural schools in Chile, Internet access and learning also depends cybet bonds of understanding and dedication between students and teachers see "Theme 2. Achievers and non-achievers: schools and the perpetuation of the digital divide". This point brings us to the need for ideas and activities to promote citizen-oriented teaching methods for ICTs, based on a new school culture, as the basis for building more participatory and just societies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
We shall delve roons into this issue in the conclusion of this book. The research sponsored by FLACSO and IDRC found that efforts to promote the use of ICTs in the schools and in local governments are often undertaken through isolated initiatives by groups of technical experts from different institutions.
These initiatives hayi generally limited and kept within the traditional forms of power relationships paternalism, promoting the image of local leaders, adapting technology to the school disciplinary system, etc. One way of neutralizing this tendency to reproduce the dominant culture through the instrumental use of ICTs is to foster projects that will articulate Internet use with integral approaches to local development and new citizen-oriented teaching methods see Scott Robinson's "The components of a hybrid model".
Challenges in building a fair and equitable legal framework for the Internet in Latin America and the Caribbean A recurrent idea in much of the research, and one that arose throughout the discussions during the seminar at which the project were presented, is the vital importance of consolidating the right to communication and culture, which includes Internet rights, as the key to ensuring equitable access to ICTs and fostering citizen participation. This is the central objective for the agenda of civil society organizations that promote regiin policies in different fields health, education, local development, women's rights, cultural rights, etc.
Uca Silva see "Communication as participation" shows that an essential requirement for the exercise of citizenship rights is to use the right to communication as the basis uayti building links between local government and citizens, as a participatory relationship in which the citizen has the opportunity "to see, hear and speak", i. This new principle or right must therefore be made the basis for any rules governing the exchange of knowledge, the exercise of citizenship and the freedom of expression through ICTs.
These ICTs are conceived as a tool and a language, the social application of which can provide hayhi support to the exercise and development of social policies relating to education, health, social security, local development, scientific development, human rights, citizen participation, etc. The adoption of a horizontal approach to communication, such as can be done through the Internet, would not only help to improve the level of political participation but would also make local governance see Susana Finquelievich et al.
Yet, in promoting the right to communication and culture 19 through Internet rights, we need to strike a balance between the free flow of knowledge and ideas conceived as a collective right and the individual's right to privacy conceived as a guarantee that protects a person's sensitivities. The research team coordinated by Carlos Gregorio see "The right to privacy, intimacy and personal data" warns of the danger facing citizens in societies and states that lack a democratic tradition with respect to the possible violations of fundamental human rights that may occur through the indiscriminate use of personal information on health, economic status, political affiliation, religious beliefs, etc.
This hazard has its roots in the powerful and publicly accessible search engines now available over the Internet and in the availability of databases that include personal information. Based on a detailed analysis of legislative history, international legal instruments and various laws in countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, their research proposes ways of balancing the right to communication and culture free circulation of information and knowledge, freedom of expression and the right to privacy, intended to protect personal integrity.
He notes that in developing countries, especially those in Latin America, there is a need to develop legal instruments that will provide for harmony between the right to communication dissemination of knowledge and laws governing cybe which protect intellectual property in a work as an exclusive right. The author suggests that excessively strict limits on the dissemination of knowledge could become a straitjacket and could generate unequal relationships that would chatt technological, educational and cultural development in the region, which means that a balance must be struck between the permitted uses of intellectual property 20 and the enforcement of copyright laws.
Scott Robinson see "The components of a hybrid model"in explaining his proposal for a franchise system for community telecentres, hayto the right to communication as a fundamental requirement for achieving meaningful and equitable public access to fyber Internet. Finally, Roberto Roggiero reinforces this viewpoint by noting the need to encourage development of Internet rights as a direct corollary of the right to freedom of expression.
This objective is the foundation for the project on monitoring Internet policies in Latin America and the Caribbean, one of the goals of which is to strengthen social networks and alliances working to defend Internet rights see his "The Latin America and Caribbean ICT Policy Monitor". As we can see, a roosm model for equitable access to and appropriation of the Internet must be based on a right to communication and culture that establishes a balance between individual rights, such as those to privacy or intellectual property, and social rights, such as that to the free dissemination of knowledge.
A legal cbyer of this kind, so essential to developing relationships of equity in access to knowledge, culture and the exercise of citizenship, can only be achieved by fostering strategic alliances among civil society organizations, the private sector, and national and local governments.
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To understand how the Internet reinforces rgeion exchanges, exacerbating the gap between rich and poor countries, between the elites and the great uninformed masses, we must understand it as a language and tool that exists in the midst of different cultural and political contexts. It is essential to interpret it in each of these contexts and to ask: How does it work? To what end? To whose benefit? In other words, we must understand the Internet as a field of competing forces composed of social groups that are subject to unequal power relations of domination and subordination in which various social factors state, private and civil society interact.
An undertaking of such magnitude will only be possible by promoting three parallel and convergent processes: 1. Constructing a new vision and habitus for the Internet, i. Reinforcing cybwr right to communication and culture and Internet rights in daily practice as well as explicitly including them in national and international legal frameworks 3.
Forming strategic alliances between civil society and its organizations, the private sector and government local, regional or national in an effort to foster the social development of ICTs in terms of both access and the use or social appropriation of this tool More detailed considerations on these three processes will be found in the conclusion at the end of this ergion.
Notes haytj. Throughout this introductory paper we use the term information and communication technologies ICTs to embrace all technological and communications developments based on the Internet videoconferencing, chat rooms, discussion lists, e-mail, web-based systems, etc. Saskia Sassenin his paper entitled "The impact of the Internet on sovereignty: Unfounded and real worries", explains: "New transnational regimes and institutions regioon creating systems that strengthen the claims of certain actors corporations, the large multinational legal firms jayti correspondingly weaken the chah of smaller players xex of states", p.
In many cases the governments of peripheral countries have made a great effort to place their national economies and their human and natural resources at the disposal of the forces and needs of the international market". An analysis of long-term trends in world income distribution The secondary school enrolment rate for females in the least-developed countries was These figures show the extent of gender inequity in access to education.
If we were to study and measure ethnic exclusion in education, we would find similar or greater inequalities. The Internet has the greatest growth capacity of any technology in human history. The following data from the UNDP chah 62, 63 will help to understand the selective distribution of the Internet: 0.
In only 0. Other poor regions of the world have similar or even lower percentages of Internet users UNDP Martin Hopenhayn and Ernesto Ottone —79citing statistics produced by Fernando Fajnzylber, show that "during the s in Latin America Latin America and the Caribbean, at first glance, have the greatest of TV sets for every thousand people and at the same time the worst income distribution of any region in the world Foron average, the region had TV sets per thousand people East Asia and Oceania had an average of The project presented in this book have also been published at the same web site see the detailed list of electronic sources at the end of this article.
One of the winning projects, entitled "Measuring qualitative and quantitative impacts: de and implementation of online registration systems for telecentres using Linux platforms", sponsored by the Colombian Association of Non-governmental Organizations for E-mail Communication, Colnodo, called for developing a registration system for evaluating the use and application of ICTs according to the variables of gender, education level, age, and physical distance between home and community centre, cross-referenced to variables on occupation or employment, level of access to communication media and user perceptions of the centre providing the service.
This instrument is of great use to the coordinators of community centres that provide public ICT access, in conducting qualitative and quantitative evaluations for adjusting their service policies. On the other hand, it is also of great use to students interested in the social impact of the Internet. This statement can be generalized for Latin America as a whole, remembering however that the case studies presented in this paper refer to pioneering experiments in the region on the application of the Internet to education and local government.
It is crucial to examine the social impact of new ICTs as part of the dynamics by which material and cultural capital is reproduced, the continuous conversion of material goods or assets into symbolic goods or assets, within social fields or social areas in which a set of actors and groups interact in correlation with forces that occupy different positions and represent different levels of capital accumulation this thinking uses the theory of symbolic and material capital developed by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, We use habitus in the sense defined by Pierre Bourdieu: "the system of arrangements The project coordinated by Ester Schiavo, entitled "Towards the construction of habitus among the citizenry", based on an evaluation of local experiments with electronic government, has produced a multimedia tool or application intended to foster a habitus of citizen participation among children through their relationship with their local environment, as a way of overcoming the instrumental practices and vision of the Internet.
This study provides a detailed ethnographic description of how the Internet is articulated with school discipline and the world of representations and symbols outside the school, among public school students in Bogota. It describes in detail the new approaches to reading, the new ways of building social relationships through chat rooms and, above all, the new forms of identity that young people are developing via the Internet. A further example is the use of the Internet by students in a school on the Argentine coast to share experiences from their efforts to save penguins threatened by oil spills.
We understand "the right to communication and culture" to mean the guarantee that citizens can be heard and that their opinions will be taken into in governance and decision-making in their community or country, and that they can receive transparent information on social actions and policies that local or national authorities undertake on their behalf.
Governments and other institutions that support freedom of expression must ensure that the Internet is granted the same guarantees that are given to other forms of individual expression. International law is clear on what electronic rights of expression must entail. Although international law does not address such communication specifically, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights enshrine rights to freedom of expression, access, and privacy, which are relevant to the new medium.
Criticism of the government or its leaders is protected. In addition, a government must demonstrate that "the restriction imposed is the least restrictive means possible for protecting that interest.
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The article was based on the research findings later acknowledged by Time to have been seriously flawed of a student at Carnegie Mellon University. Nevertheless, this concern recently culminated in the enactment of the Communications Decency Act CDAan amendment to a sweeping telecommunications reform bill ed in February The CDA criminalizes on-line communication that is "obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent, with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass an other person" or "obscene or indecent" if the recipient of the communication is under eighteen years of age "regardless of whether the maker of such communication placed the call or initiated the communication.
Constitution and international law. Human Rights Watch is also concerned that the effort to censor "indecent" communication could impede the work of our own and similar organizations which transmit graphic s of human rights abuses. The suit is currently before a panel of judges. Likewise, to address human rights abuses without discussing the violence of acts such as rape, torture, and bodily mutilation would be impossible. Human Rights Watch exposes the abuse in order to educate the public about the scope of current abuse and to prevent future atrocities.
For example, our July press release on slavery in Pakistan, posted at our gopher site [on the Internet], provides graphic and factual details on the ways in which bonded laborers have been tortured. The text relates that they have been "beaten with sticks, stripped naked, hung upside down, burned with cigarettes, beaten on the genitals and have had their legs pulled apart.
Women prisoners are often held in custody indefinitely and suffer a consistent pattern of sexual assault, including rape. They tore off my wrapper, then my underwear. Two of them raped me through my anus, three the usual way. While one soldier raped me, another would beat me. I tried to scream, but they held my mouth. They said if I made too much noise they would kill me. Our October report on the abuse of Burmese refugees from Arakan, posted on the newsgroup reg.
Clearly, obstacles to Human Rights Watch in reporting these atrocities in the United States are likely to be magnified for groups operating in more repressive states and attempting to post similar findings on the Internet. In Septemberthe council released its first report, which contained only vague recommendations. It is illegal to spread "hate propaganda" and "obscenity" in Canada.
Sexually explicit material is legal as long as it is not deemed obscene, that is, characterized by "undue exploitation of sex," meaning sex plus violence or degrading sex. Under a new law on child pornography that has not been tested by the Supreme Court, mere possession is illegal. According to David Jones, president of Electronic Frontiers Canada, "There are no new laws being proposed that apply specifically to the Internet. That could change, however.
On April 2,Justice Minister Allan Rock released a discussion paper inviting Canadians to present their views on regulating excessive violence in the media, including the Internet. Among the region's authoritarian nations, only North Korea and Myanmar are without any Internet connection. Currently, most countries in Asia are connected directly to the U. Some Asian governments, including Pakistan, are choosing to control the Internet's effects mainly by limiting its availability.
A senior scientist at Pakistan's state-owned National Institute of Electronics has noted that Internet access would be limited by the small of nodes and hosts available to users and by the intervention of service providers who could stop undesirable discussion groups and electronic messages. In India, where commercial Internet access was launched in mid, only the state-owned phone company, VSNL, has been allowed to provide international Internet services, in order to maintain the government's monopoly on long-distance phone services.
According to guidelines issued by the Department of Telecommunications DoT based on the antiquated Indian Telegraph Act ofan ISP must ensure that nothing objectionable or obscene is carried on the network, but it is not clear that these have been enforced. Thailand's National Electronics and Computer Technology Center Nectecan official agency responsible for information technology policy, recently called upon local ISPs to police their own sites for sexually explicit material. It also said that subscribers and operators are required to agree not to show anything considered indecent or they will face criminal prosecution.
In the Philippines, Internet censorship measures have been introduced in the legislature. In early Marchmember nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN said they planned to set up a regulatory body to deal with the flood of information technology; they also voiced concern about pornography and disinformation. In JuneChina's telecommunications minister stated that "as a sovereign state, China will exercise control on the information" entering China from the Internet.
Many Usenet newsgroups, including those classified as alt, rec and soc, were reportedly not allowed on Chinese Internet host computers, but the comp and sci hierarchies were apparently provided. Users have access to information generated outside China, but only after it has been screened in Hong Kong. ChinaNet, based in Beijing and Shanghai, which became available in Mayprovided commercial Internet access.
Control of Internet access s was extremely tight, and people wishing to open them were required to register at the Postal Ministry. Fairly quickly, black market permits became available. On January 1,several days after CompuServe cut off access to Usenet newsgroups, Xinhua News Agency, China's official medium, reported that the government had called for a crackdown on the Internet to rid the country of unwanted pornography and "detrimental information. A t statement issued by the State Council and the Communist Party Central Committee said effective measures had to be adopted to solve the problem of uncontrolled information.
The leadership also reportedly summoned the Chinese suppliers of Internet connections, and on January 15, the biggest supplier announced a "moratorium" on new subscribers. According to press reports, officials said that as many as 70, people were using the Internet through 7, s, and that the high volume was more than the current system could handle. On January 23, a cabinet session chaired by Premier Li Peng adopted draft rules governing links to the Internet. The cabinet reiterated its provisional approval for global computer links but declared it "imperative" to formulate rules to govern China's use of the new technology.
On February 4, Xinhua announced that the new Internet regulations required existing computer networks to "liquidate" and "re-register," and to use only international channels provided by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Electronics Industry, the State Education Commission and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The transmission of pornographic or obscene material was also expressly banned.
In mid-February, the Ministry of Public Security ordered all those who use the Internet and other international computer networks to register with the police within thirty days. The Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance does not specifically discuss on-line communication, but the ordinance reportedly applies to communication on the Internet. The Hong Kong government's Recreation and Culture Branch, which oversees on-line media, recently commissioned a study of on-line communication.
Its secretary said that developments in other countries, including the United States, would be taken into. Star Internet followed suit in November, by blocking about twenty newsgroups with erotic text and pictures. In MarchCommissioner of the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority Peter Cheung Po-tak said that controls on the Internet should ensure a "minimum degree of decency" to protect children and said the best solution would be for ISPs to regulate themselves.
The government claims that it does not currently censor e-mail, but in it disclosed that it had searched individual s to try to identify those who had downloaded sexually explicit material. After businesses expressed alarmed about the security of their information, authorities said they would refrain from conducting such searches in the future. The main means of censorship up to now has been to control access.
In addition, sexually explicit material and news have been censored by the Ministry of Information and the Arts, the government body in charge of media censorship. Fewer than half of Usenet newsgroups are available through Singnet. Currently there are no widespread uniform guidelines or procedures for restricting use of any Internet services, and local administrators have to make arbitrary decision on access.
The minister of information and the arts told Parliament that "Censorship can no longer be percent effective, but even if it is only 20 percent effective, we should still not stop censoring We cannot screen every bit of information that comes down the information highway, but we can make it illegal and costly for mass distributors of objectionable material to operate in Singapore.
Colonel Ho Meng Kit, the CEO of the SBA, the committee that oversees content on the Internet, said objectionable material could be censored through three main channels: technology, legislation, and licensing. He stated that only ISPs would be targeted and noted, "[Censorship] may not always be effective but it makes a statement about the nature of Singapore society and the values it wants to uphold. Although authorities initially stated that they would not heavily censor political criticism, they have reportedly shifted from watching for sex-related material to watching for "misinformation.
In early March, the government announced more severe censorship measures, including the licensing of all ISPs and a requirement to use filtering software. The measures are meant to prevent Singaporeans from accessing sexually explicit material and hate literature, and will also cover politics and religion.
The government also announced that World Wide Web content providers would have to register with the SBA, and that three of Web s would be scrutinized: those operated by political parties, electronic newspapers targeting Singapore, and s concerned with politics or religion. In April, the regulations tightened further.
The SBA announced that it was setting guidelines, to become effective in Junefor Internet content providers. According to the preliminary guidelines, those with Web sites must ensure they do not encourage abuse or distribute objectionable information, such as sexually explicit material. Sponsors of discussion hauti may have to register with the SBA. Internet content providers and ISPs will be responsible for what is transmitted. The rules also reyion Internet service providers to institute an acceptable use policy.
Xex of others soon followed, and the country now has numerous ISPs. The more established electronic bulletin board networks also draw extensively from the Internet. The Internet is more free than any other mass medium in Indonesia, and there are no laws, regulations or ministerial decrees concerning its use. Tempo, a news weekly that was closed by the government two years ago, recently established a site on the Web, with the blessing of the minister of information who agreed "there are hayri regulations against it," but warned that "maybe the House [of Representatives] will want to discuss legislating the Internet.
At this stage, however, the government has chosen to compete roo,s opposing views by establishing its own Web sites. Armed Forces spokesman Brig. Surwarno Adiwijoyo told Reuters news agency that the military had suggested to the Communications Ministry the need for some sort of "toll gate" to "black out" news that could damage culture or affect security. At present, private ISPs do not carry all Usenet groups, but this is reportedly done in the interests of conserving disk space and because of the language barrier.
As of Octoberthere were some 30, users. Usenet newsgroups are heavily censored. The "acceptable use" tooms at Jaring, the main Malaysian Internet line, states that "members shall not use Jaring network for any activities not allowed under any Law of Malaysia. The government reportedly realizes that on-line censorship may not be effective. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr.
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Mahathir Mohamad has warned Malaysians that "It depends on the culture. If the culture is weak, we will be the victims. But if we use it in a way that can increase our knowledge, we will get many benefits from the Internet. However, in MarchInformation Minister Datuk Mohamed Rahmat announced that a new regulatory body would be set up to monitor the Internet and that those criticizing the government "will face the music.
In reaction to Malaysian students abroad criticizing Malaysia on the Internet, the government has considered various ways to curb such dissent, according to the information and education ministers, and the education minister proposed cutting scholarships of offending students. The nationally run telephone corporation, Korea Telecom, started service in Juneand there are a of other commercial providers.
The government has decided to censor computer networks, according to statements by communications officials in October The decision was reportedly made out of growing concern regarding children's access to sexually explicit and other undesirable material. Local computer networks will be asked to prohibit access by local subscribers to banned sites, according to the Information and Communications Ethics Committee of the Data and Communications Ministry.
Sexually explicit material will be banned, along with information deemed "subversive," such as instructions on making bombs and drugs. Computer games and other software are already censored. Details, such as punishments, have reportedly yet to be worked out. Internet regulations will reportedly comply with the government's existing censorship regulations. Pham Dao, director of VDC, said that an Internet firewall would be installed to screen out transmissions from specified senders or news resources cutting out much of the anti-government commentary carried by dissident groups, including support for jailed Buddhists and dissidents.
It appears likely that the Ministry of Culture and Information will monitor on-line content and that Interior Ministry will be in charge of monitoring Internet national security issues. Nguyen Ngoc Canh of the General Directorate of Posts and Telecommunications, which sets communication policy, said competing domestic services likely will be allowed as long as Vietnam Datacommunications Company monitors a single outside link. Until recently, Vietnam's Internet service was made available through the Institute of Information Technology, which exists mostly for the benefit of academics and nongovernmental organizations.
A VDC official told the press that the organization's effort to control the Internet "is the requirement from our leaders, our government. The Internet must be controlled, not only for technical and security reasons but from the cultural aspect. The government is reportedly worried about sexually explicit material from foreign countries and about "foreign organizations" transmitting information.
Some overseas Vietnamese groups have distributed anti-government tracts in Hanoi. Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet was recently the victim of "spamming" an e-mail barrage by anti-communist dissidents in the U. A year later, the recommendations in that report were updated and released in the "Consultation Paper on the Regulation of On-line Information Services. Objectionable material was defined in the consultation paper as material that "depicts, expresses, or otherwise deals with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that it offends against the standards of morality, decency and proprietary generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that the material should be refused classification.
The resulting ABA "issues paper" became available in Decemberwith an invitation for comments to be submitted by the public until mid-February. The paper discusses various issues involved in the development of a code of practice, the adoption of a classification scheme, enforcement of a code, and blocking offensive sites. Electronic Frontiers Australia, a nongovernmental organization working for rights of Internet users in Australia, submitted a response to the issues paper, arguing a of points, including that the Internet, because of its interactivity, ificantly differs from broadcast media.
The EFA also urged the government to consult with the industry and "develop a grasp of the realities of the on-line service industry. Some state governments, including those of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia, Northern Territory, and Tasmania, have already passed or are planning to introduce on-line censorship legislation. In early Octobereighteen people were being questioned and fifteen computers seized across the state of Queensland for alleged involvement with child pornography, based on the state's Classification of Computer Games and Images Act Victoria's bill has passed two houses of Parliament.
A similar law in Western Australia went into effect on January 1, Both leave primary censorship in the hands of service providers, and seek to punish senders of information deemed "objectionable" and senders of information classified as "restricted" to minors according to broad definitions contained in the legislation. An even more extreme bill now before the parliament in New South Wales will hold individuals and ISPs responsible for objectionable material, which includes not only sexually explicit information but also drug- and crime-related material.
All state laws are subject to change when new federal laws are adopted. Under the legislation, the New Zealand Technology and Crimes Reform Bill, all users would be cut off from any site that transmitted a single piece of objectionable material to a single user. Those found in violation of the law could be fined thousands and lose the use of a telephone for up to five years. Under current law, computer disks are treated as "publications," and may be censored as such under the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act of If authorities find one example of the more serious grade of "objectionable" material, as defined by the Act,67 "Objectionable" is defined to include that which "describes, depicts, expresses, or otherwise deals with matters such as sex, horror, crime, cruelty, or violence in such a manner that the availability of the publication is likely to be injurious to the public good.
Apparently fearing possible liability, several universities and Internet providers have been blocking access to newsgroups dealing with erotica. Bahrain went on-line in December through Batelco, the government-run phone company, after installing an expensive system to block access to certain Internet-related sites. GlobeNet, a U. Kuwait is planning to launch a new Internet service soon, but a Communications Ministry official told the press that the new ISP "must ensure that no pornography or politically subversive' commentary is available in Kuwait.
In Abu Dhabi, an Internet club "ha[s] agreed to ban sex, religion and politics on the Internet to respect the local laws. Police in the United Arab Emirates recently held a seminar on combatting political dissent and sexually explicit material. ONPT has secured an agreement with the commercial companies that will provide the service. Charges will be fixed, and a convention has been ed to govern all aspects of the Internet's operation.
The service has been targeted at the banking and insurance sectors, universities, and multinational corporations. The government helped with funds. Internet users, still mostly at universities, now around 30, The government also sponsors a network whose chat rooms allow on-line dialogue between only two subscribers at a time, and private ISPs also exist. Access to the Internet is relatively unregulated, but its increasing popularity will likely result in greater government control.
TCI may have been reacting to reports that the network was being used by young people for sex chats, or it may have been trying to reduce competition to its own network service. All local s, which automatically note the material accessed, are open to inspection by the Ministry of the Interior. Government officials have justified their reluctance to permit large-scale access on the grounds that there is a need to protect people from pornographic and other harmful effects.
Existing pornography laws apply to the Internet, but loopholes are available: large foreign companies are increasingly offering their unmonitored Internet access to Saudi business acquaintances, and commercial members of the GulfNet are also free from scrutiny. Internet access will reportedly be made available to businesses inbut reportedly with strict controls. Mohammed Benten, a dean at King Fahd University for Petroleum and Minerals in Dhahran, told a local newspaper, "Here in the kingdom, with our strict rules and regulations, we will see the Internet being accessed only for constructive objectives.
Minister of Posts, Telephones and Telegraphs Dr. Ali Al-Johani said in February that, although the Internet was beyond government control, authorities were investigating how it could be regulated. In late Januarya European Union Consultative Commission on Racism and Xenophobia said it "hope[d] the EU [would] take all needed measures to prevent Internet from becoming a vehicle for the incitement of racist hatred.
It urged all member states to follow the example of Germany, which has been trying to censor racist and pornographic messages.