The OII WSIS seminar series

Civil Society and the Shaping of Information and Communication Policy

26 July 2004, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford

Professor Milton Mueller, Syracuse University

This seminar focused on how civil society collective action has reacted to and affected information and communication policy. The seminar reviewed key theoretical perspectives on social movements, discussed methods for studying civil society collective action, and anchored these issues in developments around Internet governance and regulation, including the World Summit on the Information Society.

Milton Mueller teaches and does research on telecommunications and information policy. He uses the theoretical tools of property rights analysis, institutional economics and historical analysis. He has a longstanding interesting the history of communication technologies and has recently begun to focus on international governance and institutions.

Global Internet Policy Initiatives: The Case of Vietnam

10 September 2004, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford

Christian Ahlert, Oxford Internet Institute
Nguyen Thu Hue, Global Internet Policy Initiative Project

The Internet is diffusing rapidly across the developing world, creating many new challenges and opportunities, such as for commerce. The opportunities and problems tied to the worldwide diffusion of the Internet were discussed through the specific case of Vietnam.

Nguyen Thu Hue reported on the state of Internet development in Vietnam and highlighted the regulatory efforts that are under way. Christian Ahlert, former member of staff at the Oxford Internet Institute, who served as a consultant to the project and travelled to Vietnam to work with government and businesses on legal reform in the ITC sector, placed the project into the broader context of the regulatory challenges that the Internet poses.

Nguyen Thu Hue is the coordinator of the Global Internet Policy Initiative project in Vietnam, funded under the Asia IT&C programme of Europe Aid.

The Debate on Internet Governance: What's at Stake?

24 September 2004, Royal Society, London

Markus Kummer, Executive Coordinator Working Group on Internet Governance
Esther Dyson, Founding Chair of ICANN
Adam Peake, Glocom
Karen Banks, Association for Progressive Communication
Richard Collins, Open University

Internet Governance in the UK

21 October 2004, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford

Richard Collins, Professor of Media Studies, Open University

Discussion of Internet governance has been shaped by three myths; that the market can decide, that the Internet is different to 'legacy' media and that national governance is unimportant. The author challenges these three myths through an examination of Internet governance in the UK in 2003/4 and argues that the Internet is a layered, not vertically integrated, medium of communication, that three modes of governance prevail - hierarchy, markets and networks (self-regulatory). The layers of the UK Internet are examined, their governance identified and evaluated and the conclusion drawn that network governance is a distinctive, but not universally present, characteristic of UK Internet governance and that contemporary, well functioning, arrangements may be unstable requiring stronger hierarchical governance in the future.

Richard Collins is Professor of Media Studies at the Open University. Hitherto, his work has focused on "legacy" media and on broadcasting in particular.

Reflections on the Civil Society Agenda

10 December 2004, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford

Dr Bart Cammaerts, London School of Economics
Nico Carpentier, Free University of Brussels
Claudia Padovani, University of Padua

The 2003 World Summit of the Information Society (Geneva, 2003) generated a 'Civil Society' declaration that emphasized a commitment to: 'building information and communication societies that are people-centred, inclusive and equitable', defined by a set of more specific principles. This agenda-setting seminar will reflect on questions such as: How are these broad aims being translated into specific policy goals relating to such areas as access, connectivity, and content regulation? Are these principles and the policies they subsume enabling a productive (or conflictual) engagement with other stakeholders in the process? Why did some civil society groups who would share the declaration's aims decide not to participate in the WSIS process?

This seminar is the first of a series of four seminars and one small conference focusing on civil society participation in the World Summit on the Information Society funded by the ESRC. The events will be held in the run up to the 2nd summit in November 2005. A final seminar will be held early in 2006, to allow for an informed and reflective discussion of the whole WSIS process.

Economic Development, Growth and the ICT Connection

17 - 19 January 2005, Antigua, Guatemala

WSIS Meeting Keynote:
Paul A. David, OII Senior Fellow

Bridging the Digital Divides: Best Practices and False Perceptions

04 March 2005, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford

Michael Best, MIT
Barbara Crow, York University
Paul Foley, DeMontfort University
Liyanage Harsha
Leslie Regan Shade, Concordia
Sharon Strover, University of Texas, Austin
Panayiota Tsatsou, London School of Economics

This meeting focused on systematic and critical case studies of initiatives designed to narrow 'digital divides' - within developing countries and between developing and developed countries - relating to the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs).

Accounts of these kinds of initiatives are not always closely scrutinised or challenged by hard questions concerning their scalability or transferability to other contexts. By informing discussion about competing approaches, the seminar aimed to move debate away from overly simplified prescriptions on how divides can be bridged, as these typically lack clarity in how the aim of closing divides can be accomplished in practice.