[governance] barriers (was Re: Action...)

Norbert Bollow nb at bollow.ch
Mon Jan 15 07:52:00 EST 2007

l.d.misek-falkoff <ldmisekfalkoff at gmail.com> wrote:

> people are developing all over the world and at all times.  Ever
> will it be so.  There is a concept of a critical average or base
> line, and we must be *very* attentive to countries, regions, and
> localities where very large numbers of persons face barriers, and of
> all sorts.

This is very true - such countries, regions, and localities are likely
to get caught in a poverty trap unless action is taken from outside
these disadvantaged areas to make sure that at least some genuine
opportunities for sustainable economic success are made available to
people living in those areas.

I strongly agree with Linda's exhortation to be "*very* attentive".

It seems to me that very often the attention that is given is very
one-sided on providing some tangible and intangible assets that are
helpful for overcoming barriers and for having opportunities.  For
example education, internet access, capacity building for all kinds
of governance, etc.  All this is very good and valuable and needed.

But I feel that very often not enough attention is paid to reducing
the economic mechanisms through which many of these barriers come
into being in the first place.  Some of these barriers are even
created intentionally by powerful companies, and the governments of
the countries where these companies pay their taxes make compliance
with these barriers a condition of "free trade agreements" and the

> Often, however, right around us there is great need and
> where there is need there is duty.  And  splendorous opportunity as
> well.

In this area I'd like to make a somewhat stronger statement:  In the
field of internet governance we have duties which go beyond reacting
to "great needs".  We also have a duty to be proactive.  For example,
as far as I know, all the significant technological barriers which
hinder people with disabilities from fully participating in the
information society could have been avoided by proactively evaluating
proposed changes to the technology landscape concerning the likely
impact on people with disabilities, and making appropriate

If the IGF fails to result in a strong realization of the importance
of such proactive consideration of the needs of people with
disabilities and countries with poor infrastructure conditions and
weak educational systems (the so-called "third world" countries),
then the IGF has in my opinion totally gone astray and become a series
of conferences without any significant long-term relevance.  I am
currently somewhat pessimistic in regard to the chances of the IGF
being able to avoid this fate.

Consequently, because I don't see much reason to hope that something
viable with long-term relevance will come out of the IGF, I'll focus
my attention on trying to create an entity which can be influential in
internet governance in a reasonable (proactive as well as reactive)
way.  This "entity" will be an open business alliance (of mainly
European information tenchnology businesses) called the "Internet
Freedom Governance Initiative".  There are a few more details at
http://IFGI.eu .


Norbert Bollow <nb at bollow.ch>                    http://Norbert.ch
President of the Swiss Internet User Group SIUG  http://SIUG.ch
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