I was just browsing the BBC website and I came across this story. Now, I did have quite alot of respect for Annan – I sure as hell don’t envy him in the job he has, and no matter what you think of the UN, it is there and, occasionally, it does take action. But this, this takes the biscuit, and also most of the respect I did have for Kofi Annan:
UN chief Kofi Annan has accused English-language websites of crowding out what he called “local voices.”
Opening the first UN summit on the digital divide, the secretary general said much of the information on the web was not relevant to the real needs of people.
He said this “content divide” was one of the challenges facing political leaders, business delegates and community activists in Geneva for the conference
Well, excuse me if I thought the UN was meant to be looking after peoples’ freedom. The web is one of the few mediums in which the freedom its users/exploiters/whatever have is almost limitless, without great fear of the law or violence. There are many sites that offer free hosting, normally with between 10 and 50 mb of space on which you can upload your site’s content, plus limited monthly bandwidth to that site. The regulations they have to govern such user-created sites are very accomodating, with only “obviously illegal” content being outright banned, no questions asked. Any other situation, you can put it on your site. Granted, if it’s something that is controversial (but not illegal) and/or a truly “grey area” in terms of the law (i don’t count copyright infringement as such – warez and modern game system emulation are illegal no matter what disclaimer you put on the site), you might get hassle or even be forced to close your free account. But the fact is you can do it in the first place.
And yet, here is the UN chief himself suggesting this is wrong.
And I really would hate the UN to administer the ‘net more than I hate a “semi-private” company doing so, if they decide they want to curb the amount and/or content of english-language sites just because, in their opinion, there are not enough sites in other languages.
Full story:BBC UK
NOTE: post also appears at my sitePowered by Sidelines