pressl_eva on Sun, 10 Nov 2002 17:51:27 +0100 (CET)

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++ Architectures of Control. Containment and Information.  ++
++ Links ++ Opening Soon: World-Information.Org @ Amsterdam ++
++ OSCE Keynote Speech: Freedom of Expression And New Technologies ++
++ ++ compiled by World-Information.Org ++



A far cry from the optimistic sentiment that ran across the emerging net
community in the mid Nineties, „freedom of information“ in electronic
networks is increasingly viewed as a „security hazard“. Systems of
containment are emerging, in which data, but also bodies are directed by
architectures of control.

While the EU has decided to scan all immigrants and asylum seekers
biometrically in order to be able to track them, and in Britain a
11-year-old girl is expecting a tracking-chip to be implanted under her
skin, private prison management companies such as Corrections Corporation of
America or Wackenhut are transforming prisons into experimentation grounds
for new tracking technologies. Yet by entrusting surveillance to private
companies accountability to the political system and its citizens is slowly,
but surely disappearing.

Applied to data instead of bodies this trend is called Digital Rights
Management (DRM); the privatization of access and control of information.
DRM manufacturer and huge media and  entertainment corporations seek to turn
the infosphere into a controlled environment dominated by so-called „trusted
systems“. Systems that can be trusted by the “data lords”, in order to make
the Intellectual Property (IP) rights business as profitable as possible.

DRM is set to redesign the entire information landscape with a view to
technically enforcing copyrights payment. To that end it tries to turn the
accustomed PC into something like a remote-controlled sales terminal. “Who
should your computer take its orders from?  With a plan they  call "trusted
computing", large media corporations (including the movie companies and
record companies), together with computer  companies such as Microsoft and
Intel, are planning to make your computer obey them instead of you” warns
Richard Stallman of Free Software Foundation.

In a “trusted environment”, the prisoner’s tracking cuff is replaced by
watermarks and similar encodings. The rules and standards that will make
trusted systems work are established in the exclusive environments of
corporations. Yet these standards will soon be decisive for every body, they
will shape people’s behavior in a subtle but effective fashion. Once the
values and interests have taken on the shape of seemingly neutral technical
standards, they will simply be accepted without further questions.

Yet new emerging open spaces are pointing the other way. Numerous
initiatives work at revitalizing the idea of the commons, a resource held
“in common” that is equally enjoyed by a number of persons. Originally
derived from the land law they transfer this concept in a digital context by
making available content to the broad public for free. In contrast to the
idea of DRM, which creates an elitist society where only those who can
afford it are allowed access to information, projects derived from the
conception of a commons aim at including rather than excluding as many as
possible from the infosphere.

Following this claim a range of initiatives are set to recover open space
for information exchange and shake off information handcuffs, not by
“breaking” copyright, but by avoiding it in the first place. In science, a
recent project is the International Mathematical Union’s global network that
recommends its members to publish all research free of charge. Others, such
as the German Initiative for Network Information are trying to develop a
digital commons for research, bypassing subscription fees that can amount to
thousands of Euros for specialized journals and databanks or UNESCO that has
recognized the importance of free software for development and dedicated a
free software portal.

But besides those more well-known projects there exists a much larger number
of smaller, civil-society initiatives of free information sharing that are
set to revitalize the commons. Cultural groupware, free software,
peer-to-peer platforms are all part of a new appreciation of the digital
public domain.


++ LINKS ++

Corrections Corporation of America


Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

International Mathematical Union

German Initiative for Network Information

UNESCO Free Software Portal



After successful major presentations in Brussels and Vienna (2000)
World-Information.Org now opens its doors in Amsterdam. From November 15
through December 15, 2002, it will once again stage its extensive exhibition
and conference program. In the Oude Kerk World-Information.Org will outline
the history of communication networks and explore their future, exhibit
historic and state-of-the-art control and surveillance technology and
display digital artworks and installations by, among others, Marko Peljhan,
Critical Art Ensemble, Institute for Applied Autonomy, Arthur Elsenaar and
Taco Stolk.

On 6 and 7 December, 2002, De Balie will host the World-InfoCon conference
'The Network Society of Control', an international and interdisciplinary
forum on the issues of surveillance, security and freedom of networks.
Speakers will include Elly Plooij, VVD member of the European Parliament,
and Alexander Patijn, adviser to the Dutch Ministry of Justice. In addition
to the conference World-Information.Org offers a diverse workshop and
educational program .

The opening event will take place on 14 November, 2002, 18.00 at Oude Kerk.

In cooperation with Waag Society, De Balie and Netherlands Media Art
Institute, Montevideo/Time Based Arts.



On 7 October, 2002, Konrad Becker, Director of World-Information.Org, was
invited to deliver the keynote speech at the preparatory event for the OSCE
Mediterranean Seminar on media and new technologies: implications for
governments, international organizations and civil society (4-5 November,
2002, Rhodes, Greece) in Vienna.


The Institute for New Culture Technologies/t0
is the carrier of World-Information.Org
Zwischenquartier, Burggasse 21
A-1070 Vienna, Austria
phone: ++ 43.1.522 18 34
fax: ++ 43.1.522 50 58

Under the patronage of UNESCO.

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