Online fora highlight WSIS themes
  31 May 2003. While it is still uncertain whether civil society content will be considered for the official WSIS documents, a number of organsations are advancing the civil society discussion process on issues related to the information society through the means of online fora. Content-related exchange and networking are regarded just as important by many civil society actors as putting progressive content on the official WSIS agenda.

The Digital Opportunity Channel and Bytes for All have started an online debate on issues relevant for the Global South, Mandate the Future is operating a forum on themes such as open source and media diversity, and in Germany the "Charter of Civil Rights for Sustainable Knowledge Societies" is being developed further in the Chartaforum.

One of the first efforts was made at the end of last year by UNESCO. The UNESCO online forum served to clarify civil society's themes and strategies for the WSIS.

Recently the Digital Opportunity Channel - part of the OneWorld network - and Bytes for All established the forum 'Information Society: Voices from the South', to improve the participation of the Global South in the WSIS debate. Its objectives are both an exchange between organisations of the South and the provision of a platform to publicise demands and to take their voice to policymakers. Major themes are poverty alleviation, preservation of indigenous knowledge, free access, diversity of opinions, media diversity, etc.

Digital Opportunity Channel is also involved in organising another forum which has been initiated by the Sri Lanka-based NGO Mandate the Future. Amongst the principal themes here are open source software, gender justice, and education.

Until 19 June the German website www.chartaforum.de will house an online forum to further develop the "Charter of Civil Rights for Sustainable Knowledge Societies". Chartaforum shall broaden the Charter process, which was initiated by the Heinrich Boell Foundation last year. It represents a platform on which the themes of the Charter can be discussed between a larger part of German civil society. The focus of the Charter is on issues such as the privatisation of knowledge, open technical standards, cultural diversity and privacy.



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