The World vs. The Web: The UN's Politicalization of the Information Society
Published December 2003
Author Audrey Selian and Kenneth Neil Cukier
Source Taubman Center for State and Local Government, John F. Kennedy School of Government
URL Click here to download the full document
PDF: 10 pages, 48 kbytes


The UN's World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that took place in Deccember 2003 in Geneva stalled rather than promoted the development of information and communication technologies globally. This is because it became a forum for policy differences to formally widen between governments from developing and developed countries as well as among stakeholders (such as industry, civil society organizations and governments). In lieu of a convergence of ideals, interests, and objectives, WSIS saw their fragmentation. This paper describes the main areas of tension among nations and examines the breakdown in rapport between the civil society groups and governments within the WSIS process. Finally, it explains the consequences of this new politicization of the Internet in the context of an earlier dispute over media resources at the UN in the 1970s, and looks ahead to the Summit's second phase in Tunisia in 2005.


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