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WSIS and Independent Media Centers

transmitter | 03.12.2003 19:10 | WSIS 2003

The UN world summit of the information society is approaching fast, it will take place between Dec 10 and 12. A World Forum on Communication Rights, initiated by the Cris Campaign, will take place at the same time. It will tackle issues that the WSIS dares not, linking communication with issues such as poverty, social exclusion, militarism, cultural diversity and human rights.

The "We Seize" initiative has organised a follow-up to the Hub-Project in Florence. A number of imcistas will report - read on for some background:

We Seize | Hub Project | PolyMediaLab | High Noon| Strategic Conference


WSIS is an UN summit about the global commons. Big Network Providers and government representatives are meeting to map out the future landscape of information and communication. The WSIS debates affect the core of the indymedia project.
Today, the internet still holds the promise of forever multiplied shared knowledge. A space where you don't own, sell or buy knowledge, but share it. At indy, we are running about 130 indymedia websites, about 800 email lists and a twiki with more than 800 topics with a minimum of money. The coding doesn't cost us anything, and many tech volunteers are constantly working on it. We control our own servers.
This could change. If software is declared "intellectual property", and software patents are introduced, Free Software Development will become very difficult, if not impossible. According to Richard Stallman, developers will constantly run the risk of illegally including a patented bit of code.
The claim for internet privacy in combination with new tracking methods gives raise to repressive cyber-security regimes. The definition of "safe" and "unsafe" communication would be up to the state.
The dream of the internet as an anarchic place where everybody gives and takes is long gone anyway - most websites are for commercial purposes. Newspapers have started to charge for access to their online archives. Many companies are starting to set up their own, private networks instead of participating in the internet. Privatisation and liberalisation of the communications infrastructure leads to corporate control of the information channels. The internet as we know it might shrink. The right to communicate and access to a global communications network, so crucial for imc, might see serious restrictions.
WSIS is a major forum for governments and big business to come together and invent ways to control the global commons - of course for the best of the consumer. Civil Society in the form of NGOs is invited to watch the process, but excluded from the decision making.
We have yet to find appropriate forms of political articulation to make our voice heard in such an abstract issue. Few protests have been held under the banner of communication rights. Let's use WSIS as an experimental ground to explore creative use of our day-to-day IT-knowledge!


1. The event
WSIS is an unusual event for indymedia reporting. So far, not many street-actions are expected. Other than the usual summits, the WSIS organisers included big business and "civil society" in the preparations. Soon it became clear that participation of "civil society" was very restricted. As a result, a variety of "half-official" events was set up.

2. reporting what?
Reporting about WSIS could cover the debates, especially those outside the official event. Reporting can be an action in itself. Also, it is a chance to raise awareness for communication rights within the indymedia community and beyond.

3. reporting where?
imc switzerland has already started reporting, and imc Uk has set up a dedicated WSIS middle column. Imcs in Italy, France, Germany and more are also expected to report. You can also log on to, #wsis and #sconf.

4. decentralised WSIS presence
You don't need to fly to Geneva to participate. Local screenings of the video stream (see High Noon below) could be organised. irc-ers, translators, writers, updaters are welcome in the irc-channels. The CielitoLindo Project is going to to stream-in from Madrid.

Under the slogan "WSIS - we seize", three events will offer a fundamental critique of the summit, outside the official framework: High Noon, a V2V Video-Peer-to-Peer Webcasting Project, a Strategic Conference, and a Polymedia Lab. These interventions are coordinated on one email list (see LINKS). Polimedia lab is a space for practical experiments, skill-sharing, meeting, networking and reporting.


WSIS - We seize:
Mailing List:
High Noon:
Strategic Conference:
Polymedia Lab:

mailing list:

register a workshop:
workshop registration form:

PROJECTS Tactical Maps of Geneva
Hub-mailing list: