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IGF Day 4 and last, Privacy – Incident with China – Human network – more Open Standards – Jordan FOSS – and Final statement November 24, 2009

Posted by GuySoft in Crictor, Hamakor, IGF, ITU, open source, Uncategorized.
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Hi all,
This is the second day of the IGF 2009 and the 4th and last day of my journey.

There was a lot to write about, and I had little time back in Israel, so it took a while to publish.
I recommend you read my closing statement.
Scroll to the titles that interest you:

Jordan FOSS community

I met this morning the representative of the Jordanian Open source community, Issa Mahasneh. We had a good talk and hope to keep in contact when I am back. We both seem to agree that there are common goals for both of us in the region (yes, apart from RTL).

Privacy session

I was in the main session on a panel on privacy (you can watch the video). It seems a great deal of what was said was mentioned in other workshops the day before, still there were a few new angles. It seems mainly that by participating in a social network one really has to trust the provider, unfortunately nearly all providers are thinking of profits and not the users, since they are ad funded. Social networks have a huge amount of data to an extent that it becomes problematic, they are selling it to third parties. Also (in timeline 00:58) the panel seem to agree that filtering should not be done under the excuse of blocking child pornography and security of the state. I hope that now when this  talk is on stage at the UN governments might take this in to account, since this has happened in Israel once and is still happening again today. This is a global problem!

In addition, Bruce Schneier’s interesting point regarding why it is so hard to explain people why privacy is important (timeline 00:42:00), he notes there is no price or measurement on privacy, his words are “privacy not saleient”. We have here in Israel a movement to stop a Biometric database law by the government, and this is one of the hardest things to explain to people that are not part of the movement, mostly because of the argument above.

Dynamic Coalition on Open Standards

After a while in the privacy session I got another IRC call from Jeremy that the “open standards” session was in progress, as I got there I found myself in the Luxor hall, that was built so everyone could participate. The Jordanian FOSS representative from the morning was there too, and so were Microsoft from the other day, but for a change, the projector in the room had Ubuntu system on it. At some point Sunil, the moderator of the session, turned to both me and Issa and asked if the Open source community has anything to say (apparently I am now the OLPC person by name in the IGF). So I found myself speaking, agreeing with most of the panel, I mentioned that closed standards are problematic because they usually mean you get vendor lock-in on the user side,  open standards also mean that the data can be manipulated to create new metadata and in governments that can give vital information on many things. As the panel was ending, a few people in the panel said they would like to hear suggestions of how to get awareness to the public. I suggested that they could make a simple ranking system, something along A B C, that non-techies can understand, and it could be partly based on the W3C validators. I am not sure if my explanation was heard there due to technical reasons, I hope to join their maillist and keep talking. I recommend others here to have a look at the list of dynamic coalitions. There must be something interesting for you there!

A short Interview of me – the internet is closed-source

Seiiti Arata, who photo-streamed all of the conference, asked me to do a short interview. At first I was not sure what to say, since I am more of a technical person than ‘internet governance’ oriented.  After thinking for a while I noticed that no one seemed to pay attention in the IGF to the fact that one of the main disadvantages of internet structure is that the source is closed, that is, you can’t really see what a site does with your information because you can’t see its code. In a away its what Richard Stallman said in The JavaScript Trap blog post. Sadly 30 minutes is not enough for my poor mind to articulate this after 3 hours of sleep, so i think I failed to get the point across , still, here is my interview.

A few more things that happened that I did not mention- The diplomatic incident with China

Although this is yesterday’s news, I thought I might write it in for people that were not following my twitter. There was an incident with China that was quite important during IGF 2009.

Egyptian security pulled down banner of Deibert-Rohozinski new book called “Access Controlled” because it mentioned the Chinese censorship (aka the great firewall of china). This is really bad. To recap, this censorship happened during a UN conference about internet censorship! This created a wave of replies and tweets, slashdot articles and also a youtube video of the incident.

During the IGF – talks on the Human network website

A project I was working on with Dima, Amna Khan, Samuel Morgan and a few other Youth Fourm members is a site called the Human Network. The goal is to get a talk going on between people interested in ICT around the world, with a focus of course on Youth fourm members from ITU TELECOM and other similar events. We found time to talk about the site at the IGF with a few YF members, and also with Walda. It seems like what we need is for people to start talking, the site is there.

Anyway, if you are interested in joining this initiative of building a community of young people all around the world, centred on ICT talks, please contact us from the site. And we will send you an invite.

Getting back home

After the dynamic session, there was another dinner, however I did not have time for the main course to come, I had to head back to the main hotel to get back home. I actually found a neat trick to travel back all the way to Jerusalem in the evening – Since there is no bus I took a Russian excursion tour to Jerusalem that leaves from Sharm, the tour picks you up from the hotel and takes you all the way to Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Dead Sea (I got off at Jerusalem as you can guess). The plan worked perfectly, I managed to save an extra day. Although I did feel strange waking up in the rain, in the middle of east Jerusalem, with a suitcase and dressed as a diplomat. It made bargaining with the taxi driver much harder. Still, I am safe and with great memories

Closing

During this trip to IGF 2009 I really learned a great deal about internet politics and the common burning issues that are rising around the world. Back in Israel I have started telling people how happy I am that the internet had been invented in the 60’s when freedom for all was an ideology, if it had been invented in the 50’s or 40’s it might have looked completely different. However this freedom might not last for long, we are now in a phase where big organisations and governments have an interest in controlling the internet. They are tapping in to our traffic, invading our privacy and breaking one of the foundation principles of the internet – “Net neutrality” (that is the principle that you don’t tap in to the information your are passing for someone else). The internet is a wonderful tool, and it might be one of the turning points for all of humanity evolution. We are now at a crossroads in history where we need to decide what is the policy on the internet: is it free or closed? Who will set its policy? Who does the information on websites belong to? What are the norms and what is taboo?

In our daily use we don’t think about these problems, but in the coming decades, we might be deciding the fate of the internet, and even the fate of humanity and culture itself.

Dima and I are going to write a paper back to ministry of communication here in Israel, after they could not reach the IGF (security/budget reasons). We are going to recommend they continue having a local Internet governance forum here in Israel.

Photos of the day

Well by now you can view my photo album of the trip

Still, to make it easy here are a few selected ones:

The entrance Hall of the confrence

View from our hotel room

Crossing the border to Israel at night

Open Standards

Comments»

1. Dima - November 24, 2009

After reading this blog post, I think you may find this book interesting (you can legally download a PDF version of it): http://futureoftheinternet.org/download

2. Jeremy Malcolm - November 24, 2009

I’m glad you were there. The IGF needs more straight-talking technical people and fewer crafty policy people with hidden (or not so hidden) agendas. Your conclusion is pretty accurate.

The laptop had Ubuntu because it was the presenter’s own computer! During my session on A2K on the last day, we were thinking of booting up Ubuntu on the venue’s computer from a USB stick… but we couldn’t find one.

GuySoft - November 24, 2009

If i knew about that, I could have given you the Ubuntu CD I had in my bag (yes, take one with me when I go aboard).

3. הבלוג של GuySoft » כנס איגוד האינטרנט על ממשל מדיניות האינטרנט בישראל (Internet Governance) - November 27, 2010

[…] ב-IGF שנה שעברה, ודיברתי עם רוברט גוארה, וכן ביום למחרת הדיון היה כבר היה בבמה המרכזית. למרות שכן הוזכר שצורת המשטר הזו דומה לזה שבאיראן […]


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