Like 1995, 1996 was a year in which we again had to struggle with the
sudden commercialisation of the Internet and information in general. We
tried to meet these new challenges by shifting our activities back towards
the old principles of Antenna International defined by Article 19.
In Europe and in Asia we witnessed this year some dramatic examples when public information sites on the Internet were mail-bombed and blocked by governments and pro-commerce activists. Our own host had to
experience several mail-bombs (aimed a Human Rights Watch group on
Indonesia) and vicious hack attacks that blocked our system completely.
In Asia the ASEAN countries agreed to counter free flow of information
and communication if it could instigate or undermine the public confidence in the government and her administration. Censorship will become soon a major issue on the Internet. Both Interdoc and APC are aware of this and in joint collaboration we have to define codes of ethics for users and host services to ensure the freedom of information and communication, but also to keep the NGO domains free from sexism, racism and other offensive statements, sites and sources.
In the Netherlands we started to launch a range of public platforms on the
Internet. In the traditional media, the TV and written press, the commerce
has surpressed the free flow of information and the public domain has
shrunken too much. We try to increase the public space in the Internet,
making use of the broad public access to the Internet and the growing
need of people to join public debates and public information resources.
For this we have built independent networks for women, education and the
environment with their own servers, domains and working groups and the
first one – on women – is becoming a major success, we hope the others too!
The principle of accoutable technology is also within our major networks Interdoc and APC – becoming a major issue, we hope to foster this process
and facilitate the expansion of self-sustainable networking activities.
There is clear interest in the self-finance options we have experimented
with these last 10 years. Being independent in all our finances since our
start in 1986 have given us the political space and credibility we need
to foster the networking policy issues.
We always stress the need to open up NGO resources to the public, now at
last a growing public has access to the NGO resources and NGOs should seek public support in stead of meeting only the needs of private funders and corporate sponsorship. The process that has made Greenpeace, Amnesty, WWF and MSF to become international independent networks supported by a large constituency of private individuals, shows that NGOs who are willing to communicate with the public can built their own independent network.
We have given up large parts of our access to the Internet activities.
We are not good professional services compared to the emerging commercial ones who can offer our users cheaper, faster and more reliable access. So me moved large parts of our userbase to the largest provicer NLnet with whom we have a close working relationship since 1992.
Antenna Web Site and activities
We like to stress again that we need to built a WWW server for all the
Antenna activities and we encourage every other Antenna outfit to help
us in building a virtual space on the Internet with information on Antenna.
Please send us documents, photographs (preferably in digital form, but also
in print) on your activities and we will give you a web-site on our server:
https://www.antenna.nl/suisse or https://www.antenna.nl/whatever, of course
we will enable your own FTP-login to maintain and update the WWW site. And for those who would like a E-mail address pointing to your own current address we are most willing to forward e-mail for:
to be forwarded to for example: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The forwarding is instantaneously, as we are a live Internet host.
Just for some updated info on our activities please visit the Antenna
sites at: https://www.antenna.nl (English also!) or our sister organisation Antenna Colombia: http://www.colonodo.apc.org (Spanish)
Those of you who need support to find a local internet provider,
please contact us, as APC has local partners in most european countries.
I hope you all will have a fruitful meeting and I promise one of us
will try to attend the next meeting in 1997. Perhaps a meeting early in february in possible when Julian Casasbuenas will pass through Europe in a trip to the APC meeting in South Africa.
Au revoir! Salut!
— Michael Polman