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Prepcom 3 redux – Communication rights in Tunisia

Today we resume Prepcom3 for WSIS/SMSI. Arriving in Tunisia yesterday was illuminating in terms of privacy and communications rights for electronic comunications in Tunisia.

Landing in Tunis, one can easily buy a SIM card for a mobile phone. Unfortunately, it requires a tremendous amount of personal information in order to get a Tunisiana mobile account. At home, currently Uganda, I can buy as many SIM cards as I want, over the the counter, and without giving an iota of personal data. Why do they need my passport number, date of birth or home address?

The next step for a WSIS participants is even more worrying in terms of privacy. When one picks up one badge at the registration center, one automatically also picks up a nefarious invasion of privacy, the dreaded RFID chip in the WSIS ID badge. With this chip, the organisers of the event can track ones physical presence within a few meters during ones entire stay. Of course, this is done in the name of security. However, I dont recall signing a contract with WSIS regarding the use or handling of my personal data and photo. What will they do with this data after the summit?

I woke up early this morning, and war:walked the hotel grounds looking for WiFi access. I was told it was FORBIDDEN to access the Internet at such an early hour. I jokingly asked if this was a government policy, and was told that it was. I am hoping it is a language issue and not actually a law.

The above experiences, plus the fact that the head of the Reporters Without Borders has been told he is unwelcome in Tunisia, a report that Christophe Boltanski, who was enquiring about human rights in Tunisia, has been beaten and cut, is indicative of the state of freedom of speech and the right to communicate for Tunisians.

Meanwhile Prepcom3 has resumed their discussion on IG issues. No one seems to be moving off of their Geneva positions, and agreement on the most difficult issues seems unlikely.

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