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12.10.2003

World Summit on the Information Society disgraces itself by allowing Robert Mugabe to attend 

From the BBC:


Mugabe to discuss cyber society

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has travelled to the Swiss city of Geneva to attend a United Nations meeting on the information society.

The summit will discuss how developments such as the internet have affected the world.

His trip comes two just days after he withdrew from the Commonwealth.

The BBC's Alan Little in Geneva says that it is not known whether he will address the meeting but his presence is a calculated act of defiance.

Like the European Union and the United States, Switzerland has imposed a travel ban on Mr Mugabe, but the Swiss Government waived the ban so he can attend the UN conference.

Information age

In Zimbabwe, 14 people were recently charged after sending e-mails calling for mass protests against Mr Mugabe's government.

Zimbabwe's secret services have been trying for several years to acquire high-technology equipment to monitor online communications.

A senior official from a Zimbabwean internet service provider (ISP) told BBC News Online that he did not believe the authorities had yet obtained this equipment.

The government controls all local radio and television stations and recently closed down the only privately-owned daily newspaper.

Correspondents say this leaves the internet as one of the only ways for the opposition to spread its message, although only a small number of people have access to computers.



Call me a jingoist, but I think that the internet is generally pretty safe in the hands of private American companies. The less that dictators from Zimbabwe, Iran, and other tyrannies have to do with regulating the 'Net, the better.

UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has a column on the subject here.

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