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<nettime> APC: Leave the Internet alone
geert lovink on 3 Mar 2001 06:24:03 -0000

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<nettime> APC: Leave the Internet alone

Via via from:  Karen Banks karenb {AT} gn.apc.org

Internet should remain a secure and accessible tool for
social justice, says Prague meeting of communication

Prague: "Leave the Internet alone"

This was the core message addressed to governments and
big business by a group of lawyers, computer  rogrammers,
academics, and communications activists from East and
West Europe who gathered here from February 18 to
22  to plan a defense of the Internet for social justice work.

The conference was organized by the Association for
Progressive Communications (APC), an international
association of not-for-profit organizations which promote an
Internet for social justice and development. APC and its
partners have been linking civil society organizations online
since 1990.

"APC is committed to giving a voice to activists and civil
society groups who want to defend the Internet as an
accessible and secure communications medium", says
Karen Banks from GreenNet, APC member in the UK, and
APC Europe Internet Rights project manager.

In the past, APC members and partners defended Website
content which had been threatened by unreasonable
government and commercial interests in South Korea,
South Africa, the UK and Spain.  At the Prague conference,
the participants discussed various strategies to respond to
these threats. Among these is a Rapid Response Network
(RRN) that would set up a technically and legally robust
system to automatically replicate threatened content across
the Internet within 24 hours.

"It was a new experience for me, as a lawyer, to have such
an interested audience," quipped Andrea Monti, an Italian
lawyer and President of Electronic Frontiers Italy, who was
one of the three lawyers advising the APC on the RRN, "and
to see that APC, by forming these innovative coalitions, is
working to create serious, viable solutions to counter
threats to an open Internet".

Alan McCluskey, founding editor of 'Connected', and online
magazine, emphasized that the Internet should be a tool "to
empower people to express themselves," and that it should
be used to "change things" and "bring learning into the life of
the community."

Other participants pointed out that the rapid
commercialization of the Internet and emerging global and
national controls, with some states seeking to impose
undue restrictions on Internet service providers, pose
clear threats to what should be a free and open
communications medium.

At the conclusion of the conference, the participants
reached broad consensus that defending Internet rights is
as much a defense of human rights as it is of people's right
to communicate, regardless of where they live, social
status, sex, political or religious belief.

APC members often were the first providers of electronic
communication connections in their own countries and
today work actively to defend and extend the democratic
potential of the Internet as a powerful tool for social
participation and change. The Prague Internet Rights
meeting is their latest initiative to send a strong message to
governments and big business across the world that the
Internet  should be kept open and used to protect the
environment, promote human rights, peace, development
and democracy.


APC (founded 1990) was the first globally interconnected
NGO network of groups working for peace, human rights,
development and protection of the environment. Though
trivial from today's perspective, offering e-mail and
computer conferencing services to civil society in the late
1980s and early 1990s marked a huge leap into the future.
There was no better or more cost-effective way at the time
for activists to get their messages out to the world.

Now, 10 years later, APC is still going strong and still
pioneering new ways for civil society to use the Internet
strategically. Our network of members and partners spans
the globe, with presence in Western, Central and Eastern
Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America and North America. APC:


Contact:  Karen Banks
APC Europe Internet Rights Project Manager
karenb {AT} gn.apc.org
Tel  44 207 713 1941

Anriette Esterhuysen
APC Executive Director
anriette {AT} apc.org
Tel   27 11 726 1692

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