A special panel discussed the role of the developing countries in the WSIS panel at this year conference Computers, Freedom and Privacy 2006 (CFP 2006) that took place in Washington DC between 2-5 May.
The participants tried to identify what was the place of the developing countries in shaping the future of the Internet in the WSIS debate and what were the results of the debate in these countries, but also the role the Internet could have in the economic and democratic development of these countries.
Bill Drake, director of the project on the Information Revolution and Global Governance, summarized some of the benefits of the WSIS process, among them noticing the first high level dialogue in the international arena on the information society and its role in bringing together civil society active actors from all over the world and building a real dialogue between them on several ICT topics. Mr Drake underlined that the main result of the WSIS process is the process itself, explaining that the Summit was not focused on creating binding decisions for the international community, as some Government representatives from developing countries have hoped.
Samia Melhem, Senior Operations Officer at InfoDev presented some of the benefits of the developing countries involvement in the WSIS process, including making information society an important discussion topic in the international arena. She presented also some practical examples from Infodev experience in promoting information society in developing countries, focusing on the important policy decisions that are essential for such a development.
Bardyl Jashari, director of Metamorphosis Foundation in Macedonia and EDRi-Member, highlighted the information society situation in a developing country and what are the most important problems that need real involvement. As regards to the WSIS process Jashari considered that: "There is need for building an efficient inclusive and multi-stakeholder mechanism, identifying, providing and ensuring participation of countries with economies in transition and developing countries in global ICT policy development, in which all aspects (multilingualism, spam, cyber crime, privacy, etc) will be included. But, also to build mechanisms for evaluation of the participation and involvement and not make it only formal."
He also said that the global dialogue at the international level with all the stakeholders needs to be continued at the local level on the national and regional problems, involving all the key actors in the information society domain.
George Sadowsky, Global Internet Policy Initiative GIPI technical advisor, underlined the fact that the WSIS process has proven that the Internet and information society is a global phenomenon. He also presented the role of the GIPI members in raising awareness at the national level on the major ICT policy decisions and the importance of the Internet Governance at the international level.
The role of the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) as a public interest advocacy was debated also in another session that brought together, on the spot or via the Internet, international diplomats and experts on this matter: Milton L. Mueller, Syracuse University School of Information Studies, Markus Kummer, Internet Governance Forum, Michael Nelson, Internet Society and Director of Internet Technology and Strategy, IBM or Derrick Cogburn, Syracuse University School of Information Studies. One of the main conclusions of this panel was that IGF should not become just a new forum of political debate and it should focus on the real ICT problems that can be discussed at a global level.