Subject: [fem-women2000 596] PRESS RELEASE: Leave the Internet Alone
From: lalamaziwa <>
Date: Fri, 23 Feb 2001 21:01:53 +0900
Seq: 596

Press Release from the APC European Internet Rights workshop

February 22, 2001

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

PRAGUE "Leave the Internet alone"

This was the core message addressed to governments and big business by a 
group of lawyers, computer programmers, 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 


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
Tel  44 207 713 1941

Anriette Esterhuysen
APC Executive Director
Tel   27 11 726 1692

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