#DCI11 Access to Information


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Presentation delivered at Digital Citizen's Indaba 2011 @CTICC, Cape Town, South Africa.

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#DCI11 Access to Information

  1. 1. Freedom of Access to Information Historical Context Totalitarian States censor at production point, Capitalism censors at distribution point. Censorship & the Apartheid State State gets to decide what you can and cannot read, knowledge is something mediated via security apparatus, not civil society (academia, press, etc)
  2. 2. The IBM Case <ul><li>IBM and other companies aided and abetted torture and other atrocities committed by the apartheid regime. </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-apartheid activists targeted by the state, who use computers and IBM technology </li></ul><ul><li>Khulumani case one of longest cases in SA legal history. </li></ul><ul><li>Hackers responded with hegemonic alternatives & disruptive technologies, e.g. CECS, Worknet, Mondo 2000 etc. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Information wants to be Free <ul><li>“ Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. ...That tension will not go away.” Stewart Brand, 1985 </li></ul><ul><li>“ On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.” </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>“ I believe that all generally useful information should be free. By 'free' I am not referring to price, but rather to the freedom to copy the information and to adapt it to one's own uses... When information is generally useful, redistributing it makes humanity wealthier no matter who is distributing and no matter who is receiving.” Richard Stallman, 1990 </li></ul>Information wants to be Open Source
  5. 5. South Africa's Information Age Constitution <ul><li>Access to information </li></ul><ul><li>Everyone has the right of access to </li></ul><ul><li>any information held by the state; and </li></ul><ul><li>any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights. </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of Expression </li></ul><ul><li>freedom of the press and other media; </li></ul><ul><li>freedom to receive or impart information or ideas; </li></ul><ul><li>freedom of artistic creativity; and </li></ul><ul><li>academic freedom and freedom of scientific research. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Privacy <ul><li>Everyone has the right to privacy, which includes the right not to have </li></ul><ul><li>their person or home searched; </li></ul><ul><li>their property searched; </li></ul><ul><li>their possessions seized; or </li></ul><ul><li>the privacy of their communications infringed </li></ul>
  7. 7. Net Neutrality <ul><li>“ Net Neutrality is not just the idea that all datastreams should be treated equally, but rather the notion that national borders and regional boundaries do not extend to the Internet. In other words, an html page created in South Africa can be viewed in South America and vice versa, without needing a passport or incurring an interconnection tax.” Medialternatives </li></ul>
  8. 8. Net Neutrality in Africa <ul><li>Africa an Importer of Information, 99% of all Internet content viewed in Africa comes from outside Africa. </li></ul><ul><li>Digital Divide = Physical Barriers to Access. </li></ul><ul><li>Service Providers & National Telcos act as Policemen for Capitalism & the State by throttling, shaping and restricting bandwidth. </li></ul><ul><li>Domain registration and Hosting relatively expensive for most Africans. </li></ul><ul><li>Despite this, the Internet routes around Censorship, i.e Information wants to be Free. </li></ul>
  9. 9. Wikileaks <ul><li>US government effectively bans Wikileaks </li></ul><ul><li>Amazon, Paypal and Mastercard block access </li></ul><ul><li>Hackers mirror sites via etherpad and retaliate with LOIC i.e DDoS </li></ul><ul><li>“ Freedom of expression is priceless. For everything else there's HTTP Error 408 Request Timeout.” </li></ul><ul><li>The Palestinian Papers are released which help spur the Egyptian & Libyan Revolution </li></ul><ul><li>Anonymous & Lulsec arrests </li></ul>
  10. 10. Egyptian Revolution <ul><li>Mubarak shuts down Service Providers </li></ul><ul><li>Hackers fallback on modem dialup to create a Fidonet BBS backup system </li></ul><ul><li>Pls RT Modem DailUp 4 #Egypt activists Internet no +96290005000 or +962090005000, its in #jo- it wld be intl call” </li></ul><ul><li>Mubarak removed by hackers, facebook & Wael Ghonim? </li></ul>
  11. 11. Privacy under threat <ul><li>2010 Internet and Cellphone Pornography Bill promoted by the Justice Alliance of SA </li></ul><ul><li>“ To make it illegal for Internet and Mobile phone service providers in the Republic of South Africa to distribute or permit to be distributed pornography, so as to ensure protection for children and women.” </li></ul><ul><li>That's right a total ban on Adult Entertainment. </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Gigaba Plan <ul><li>“ There is no reason why the internet should be provided without the necessary restrictive mechanisms built into it. Cars are already provided with brakes and seatbelts; it is not an extra that consumers have to pay for,” Malusi Gigaba , Department of Home Affairs </li></ul>Let's RICA the Internet and build a National firewall like China.
  13. 13. The Blackberry Furore <ul><li>&quot;There is evidence that criminals are now using BBM to plan and execute crime,&quot; . &quot;We want to review BBM like in the U.K. and Saudi Arabia.” Obed Bapela , DoC </li></ul><ul><li>“ Government has no intention to regulate or legislate against Blackberry Encryption messenger services (BBM)” Jeff Radebe DoJ </li></ul>
  14. 14. SA Information Bill <ul><li>Broad departmental classification of sensitive Information as “State Secrets” in the National Interest </li></ul><ul><li>Penalties for individuals (including journalists) receiving Information deemed secret. </li></ul><ul><li>Opposition from Right2Know Campaign. </li></ul><ul><li>Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) which gives affect to Bill of Rights, lacks the necessary teeth to counter state and corporate censorship. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Low-tech Access solutions <ul><li>Portable Apps, Book on a Stick, Wiki on a Stick </li></ul><ul><li>Raspberry Pi Computer </li></ul><ul><li>OLPC </li></ul><ul><li>WUG </li></ul><ul><li>FabFi </li></ul><ul><li>RepRap </li></ul><ul><li>Linux </li></ul>