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Cover up October 31, 2006

Posted by R.S in Mobile Tech, Pakistan.
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Mobile phone snatching in Karachi is very common nowadays would be an understatement. Not a day goes by when the local newspapers does not carry a news item regarding mobile phone theft. Ofcourse the situation projects a bad image of the local administration and the police.

But according to a recent report publishe in DAWN, Karachi police has come with an interesting method to cover up their incompetence and in turn find a new use for old mobile phones.

Police buying cellphones to show as recovered

The old mobile phone sets which had lost their charm with the passage of time have disappeared from different markets across the city, market sources said. Question arises that who had bought these redundant sets at a time when with each passing day a new cellphone lands in the market. Cellphone traders in different mobile markets, which have mushroomed across the city, say that almost all old sets have been purchased by the policemen who had come in plain clothes. Investigations made by Dawn showed that a sizable number of the SHOs in the city have developed a sudden love for these old cellphone sets overnight following the recent visit by the prime minister to Karachi. On October 15, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had chaired a high-level meeting in Karachi and set October 31 as the deadline for the Karachi police to bring an end to the rampant street crime in the city. After the meeting, police hierarchy started holding meetings at different levels to chalk out strategies in this regard. Eventually, orders were issued to SHOs for an ever more efficient policing in their jurisdictions. However, the deadline set off a blind race of arrests coupled with recovery of stolen and snatched cellphones and illegal weapons from the detainees.
It is a common impression that a criminal having resorted to snatching a cellphone or robbing someone would have an illegal weapon. For police also, ‘recovering’ a TT pistol from a suspect has never been a problem.
However, police were confronted with the problem of having cellphones to show them as ‘recovered property’ in a number matching that of the arrests, a senior police officer divulged. The officer remarked that it was an undeniable fact that some genuine arrests of cellphone snatchers were being made, but their number was far less than what was being declared. Requesting anonymity, a town police officer remarked that street crime could not be controlled overnight or in a fortnight, as was being supposed. There are multiple dimensions to a crime; socioeconomic factor being the widely believed reason behind one’s resorting to such act. Until these inadequacies are addressed, the situation cannot show an improvement. At the moment, street crime is the top most priority of the police, according to him. The Crime Investigation Department, which is supposed to investigate cases of sectarian killings or terrorism, has also been assigned to pick up mobile phones snatchers and those dealing in stolen or snatched sets. ”

IGF… who’s saying what October 28, 2006

Posted by fredericknoronha in Internet.
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Everyone talks, but no-one listens. — BBC headline on the event. — http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/6091282.stm

Spam, multilingualism, cybercrime, cybersecurity, privacy and data protection, freedom of expression, human rights, interconnection costs were among the most frequently mentioned issues for theForum to deal with. — IGF quoted by http://www.digitalopportunity.org/article/view/141610/1/1138

The Internet is one of the most powerful inventions of the digital age. It has the potential to empower and educate, to cross cultural boundaries and create global communities. It offers the means for any individual with access to a computer and a gateway to the internet to communicate with others
across the world in a free flow of information and ideas — a powerful force for human rights. But, while the internet has brought freedom of information to millions, for some, it has led to imprisonment by governments that have sought to curtail this freedom. — Amnesty International. http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/document.do?id=ENGPOL300542006

Amnesty International calls on IT and telecommunications companies: to publicly commit to honoring human rights, and develop human rights policies that state a clear commitment to support the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and comply with the requirements of the UN Global Compact … http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/document.do?id=ENGPOL300542006

Given the huge impact of the Internet on our daily lives, states must remain the ultimate guarantors of our Internet rights and freedoms, and may be held to account for their respect under international law. But to be effective, states must work with key Internet actors to ensure that our rights and freedoms are both practical and effective on the Internet. –Council of Europe press statement. http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=235031&src=0

Reporters Without Borders will be at the Internet Governance Forum in Athens to remind participants that free expression must be at the centre of any model of Internet governance, and to reiterate its positions on Internet neutrality and the need for Internet companies to behave ethically. — RSF.
http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/October2006/27/c5645.html

Nitin Desai, who will chair the meeting, said the technology is young and people have not really sorted out how the Internet should be treated. He compared debates about the Internet to those about the chemical composition of ink and the design of the paper when the printer was invented, which missed the point. — ITnews.com.au in
http://www.itnews.com.au/newsstory.aspx?CIaNID=40729&src=site-marq

“This has always been there and it will always be there. We will always have to continue to act to protect it because it is in the very nature of government to try and restrict people’s liberties.” — UN’s Nitin Desai, saying that much of
the discussions about the Internet recently have centered on the tension between openness and control. http://www.itnews.com.au/newsstory.aspx?CIaNID=40729&src=site-marq

The conference, to discuss the future of the internet, is likely to blast IT companies like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft, for aiding and abetting regimes who lock up journalists who say nasty things about them online. —http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=35368

A long-simmering dispute over whether the U.S. government has too much control over the Internet’s underpinnings will heat up again next week at a United Nations summit in Greece. Starting this weekend, about 1,200 diplomats and technology ministers will gather at a hotel in the outskirts of Athens to resume a debate that has often pitted the Bush administration and a handful of its Western allies against Brazil, India, China and African countries. — http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6130087.html

I welcome the U.S. government’s declared intention to grant more autonomy to ICANN. — Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for Information Society and Media, Oct. 2. http://news.zdnet.com/2100-9588_22-6130087.html

It would be nice to think that next week’s first meeting of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will mark the transition between today’s Western-dominated internet and a true global network, but I’m not expecting too much. — Bill Thompson, regular commentator on the BBC World Service programme Digital Planet.

Slow and steady October 27, 2006

Posted by R.S in Pakistan.
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Seems that the Pakistan’s IT industry is gradually moving in the right direction (or the PSEB has a really good media relations manager) as indicated in the following Business Recorder report

IT exports crossed $1 billion in fiscal year 2005
KARACHI (October 16 2006): The country’s Information Technology (IT) services exports breached the dollar one billion barrier in FY 05 calculated as per the World Trade Organisation’s four-mode model.

According to statistics received from Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB), Pakistan’s ‘Cross Border’ exports account for 150 million dollar. Cross border exports represents services that are sold by the exporting country to the importing country, with only the service crossing the border eg architectural drawings sent by courier, consultant report sent by email, call centre support provided over the Internet, or software programmes sent over the Internet.

While the services sold in the exporting country to foreigners or foreign owned entities in the exporting country itself account for 200 million dollar (average $250,000 expenditure by over 800 entities).

For example, IT services sold to the World Bank, US Embassy or to one of the 700 multi-nationals operating in Pakistan. As far as WTO’s mode-3, ‘Commercial Presence Abroad,’ is concerned, which represents revenue of national firms established abroad selling services in a foreign market, Pakistan’s exports stood at 400 million dollar.

Under mode-4 ie ‘Temporary Movement,’ the sum accounts for 250 million dollar (at least 5,000 workers earning at least 50,000 dollar per year on average). This refers to the services that are sold or delivered through the presence of the service provider temporarily in the foreign market eg the annual salaries of all H-1, L-1 and B-1 Pakistani IT workers in the USA.

Therefore, total IT services exports from Pakistan in FY 05 amounted to 1.050 billion dollar breaching the dollar one billion barrier. The WTO lists Mode 3, revenue generated by commercial offices overseas, and Mode 4, compensation received by temporary workers who have travelled abroad, as export revenue streams which must be included in trade revenue calculation. It may be mentioned here that other countries such as India employ global services export figures when reporting or estimating revenue.

The need for the four-mode model arises because trade in services is much harder to monitor than trade in physical goods. On the other hand services trade can be transacted over the Internet, through post or through travel of personnel with revenue flowing into company or personal accounts which can exist anywhere in the world.

A recent Bearing Point (BP) study places Pakistan’s global IT exports revenues in FY 04 at around 400 million dollar. The basis of the figure was State Bank of Pakistan IT export revenue figures of just under 50 million dollar. Bearing Point multiplied this figure by two to account for IT export revenue brought into the country but not registered as such with the State Bank.

BP further estimated that for each dollar brought into the country three dollars is retained by Pakistani IT companies overseas. Therefore, global IT revenue of Pakistani companies added up last year to 400 million dollar. Therefore, for official IT export figures of just under 75 million dollar reported by the SBP for FY 05, actual global receipts of Pakistani IT firms should be around 600 million dollar.

Who calls the shots? October 26, 2006

Posted by fredericknoronha in Digital content.
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Who really controls the internet? Lot of hints, lots of diversity of views… but plenty of smoke screens too.

Here’s a lecture, taking place today and titled Who’s really out to control the internet? UN and USA Governance,

Of the speaker, we’re told:

Dr. Peng Hwa Ang is Dean of the School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore. He was one of the 40 persons appointed by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Working Group on Internet Governance in 2004. He is on his way to the Internet Governance Forum, which meets in Athens, Greece, for first time during the week of October 30.

If you tune into the Guardian, the story you get is “US loosens grip on running of internet”.

And here’s another version of the truth, coming from The Mercury News which says, Internet governance dispute will last years, official warns. A dispute, is it? As this report argues,

An international dispute over U.S. control of the Internet appears unlikely to be resolved even as state envoys, regulators and technology experts convene next week to discuss the network’s future. “Such negotiations are difficult … this will take time. There are many countries which all have their own interests and opinions,” Greek Transport Minister Michalis Liapis said Thursday. “We are starting a dialogue which I think will take many years.”

Diverse voices.. heard before the IGF October 26, 2006

Posted by fredericknoronha in Digital content.
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Amnesty International is calling for internet freedom particularly for bloggers in countries “such as China, Iran, and Tunisia” just prior to the Internet Governance Forum meet in Athens. It has also made a statement demanding the freeing of Vietnamese internet dissidents.

Nitin Desai’s statement on the “Balkanisation” of the internet also attracted quite some media. This article in the Digital Journal begins by asking: “Would you like a Chinese Internet? An Indian Internet? Or an American Internet?” This point of view (or how it was interpreted) raises a scenario which throws up a “gloomy picture where various nations try to wrest control of the Web away from global organizations.” So, do we fear diversity then? And, do we have “global organizations” calling the shots now?

Another view, from the other extreme, it would seem, comes from The New York Sun, which says, Keep the United Nations’s Hands Off the Internet!

IGF in figures… October 26, 2006

Posted by fredericknoronha in Digital content.
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PressZoom which describes itself as the “global news service and press release distribution” network, has these figures about the Internet Governance Forum, which begins in Athens, Greece from October 30.

Participants: 1200. Main sessions: eight (focussing on the Internet’s openness, security, diversity and access). Workshops: 30 (held in parallel to the main sessions, focusing on specific issues relevant to Internet governance).

This UN press release adds:

“The Forum can be seen as the beginning of a dialogue between two different cultures: on the one hand, the private sector, civil society and the academic and technical communities and their institutions, who are running theInternet and have their tradition of informal bottom-up decision-making and networked communication; and on the other hand, the more formal and more structured world of Governments and intergovernmental organizations.”

Diplomatically put!

Getting set… the launch of the IGF October 20, 2006

Posted by fredericknoronha in Uncategorized.
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The Internet Governance Forum‘s inaugural meet is at Athens, Greece from October 30 to November 2, 2006. My Association for Progressive Communications colleagues Frédéric Dubois and Analia Lavin will be there.

To get to the background of what this is all about check this Wikipedia page. It has links to the mandate of the IGF, its structure and functions, its history, its analysis, its current situation and some external links.

As of now, there are 89 reports showing up on Google’s news page pertaining to the IGF. In terms of blog references, again via Google, there are some 3,524 links. Including this one, from APC, titled Internet Governance Forum: APC puts up the fight for an open access, equal opportunity and educative internet.

Optimism and cautious expectations? A quote from that report:

“In its short life, the internet has become an agent of dramatic, even revolutionary change and maybe one of today’s greatest instruments of progress. It is a marvellous tool to promote and defend freedom and to give access to information and knowledge,” Kofi Annan said in his statement announcing the upcoming IGF meeting.

These words by the top UN bureaucrat might sound encouraging. But for progressive communications to shine on the world, the IGF will have to be more than a test-run. If WSIS was just that, it’s time for governments, civil society and the private sector to put goodwill and openness at work.