Saturday, February 25, 2006
posted by @netwurker at 3:34 pm
Morrissey Quizzed by FBI
by repost Thursday, Feb. 23, 2006 at 6:03 PM

Singer Morrissey was quizzed by the FBI and British intelligence after speaking out against the American and British governments.

The Brit is a famous critic of the US-led war in Iraq and has dubbed President George W. Bush a "terrorist" - but he was baffled to be hauled in by authorities.

Morrissey explains, "The FBI and the Special Branch have investigated me and I've been interviewed and taped and so forth.

"They were trying to determine if I was a threat to the government, and similarly in England. But it didn't take them very long to realise that I'm not.

"I don't belong to any political groups, I don't really say anything unless I'm asked directly and I don't even demonstrate in public. I always assume that so-called authoritarian figures just assume that pop/rock music is slightly insane and an untouchable platform for the working classes to stand up and say something noticeable.

"My view is that neither England or America are democratic societies. You can't really speak your mind and if you do you're investigated."
Friday, February 24, 2006
posted by @netwurker at 6:02 am
Toronto Globe & Mail
Monday, February 13, 2006

TORONTO -- More than fifteen years after the Berlin Wall was shattered
with hammers and bulldozers, a Canadian-designed computer program is
preparing to break through what activists call the great firewall of

The program, in the late stages of development in a University of
Toronto office, is designed to help those trapped behind the blocking
and filtering systems set up by restrictive governments. If successful,
it will equip volunteers in more open countries to help those on the
other side of digital barriers, allowing a free flow of information and
news into and out of even the most closed societies.

The program is part of a quiet war over freedom of information. Even as
countries considered repressive, such as China, North Korea, Iran and
Saudi Arabia, pour money into stopping the free exchange of data, small
groups of activists keep looking for ways around the technological

At the University of Toronto, in the small basement office of Citizen
Lab, researchers are getting ready for the release of Psiphon, the
latest weapon in the fight.

"I was always interested in the idea of using computers for social and
political change," said Nart Villeneuve, who has been dabbling with the
project for about two years. "It was a matter of creating a program for
really non-technical people that was easy and effective."

Psiphon is designed to eliminate a drawback of anti-filter programs:
incriminating the users behind the firewall. If found by authorities,
that anti-filter software can lead to coercive interrogation, a bid to
uncover the suspect's Internet travel secrets using a tactic known to
insiders as "rubber-hose cryptoanalysis."

Mr. Villeneuve built a system that won't leave dangerous footprints on
computers. In simple terms, it works by giving monitored computer users
a way to send an encrypted request for information to a computer
located in a secure country. That computer finds the information and
sends it back, also encrypted.

An elegant wrinkle is that the data will enter users' machines through
computer port 443. Relied on for the secure transfer of data, this port
is the one through whichreams of financial data stream constantly
around the world.
"Unless a country wanted to cut off all connections for any financial
transactions they wouldn't be able to cut off these transmissions,"
said Professor Ronald Deibert, the director of Citizen Lab.

A drawback to Psiphon is that the person behind the firewall has to be
given a user name and password by the person offering up the computer.
With this kind of setup, Mr. Villeneuve said, activists may end up
working with specific dissidents and people in repressive countries may
rely on relatives abroad to help them get connected. Canadians, with
ties to every country in the world, are in a particularly good position
to use such a system.

Although this reduces the program's reach, a relationship-based system
could also minimize improper use. People who know the owner of their
proxy computer are less likely to abuse their system, the logic goes.

"The big novel thing here is that you have a one-to-one connection,"
said Danny O'Brien, activism co-ordinator at the Electronic Frontier
Foundation, a San Francisco-based group. "That's a great innovation,
because so many people have computers that are always on, and this lets
you deal with someone you can trust."

If the remote user begins to view illegal material, their access can be
limited in several ways, such as allowing access to text only. In
extreme cases, Mr. Villeneuve said, people found with evidence of
illegal activity on their computer would be able to prove through
forensic analysis that it had been done by the remote user.

The team at Citizen Lab is now racing to put the final touches on the
program in time for its public debut at the international congress of
the free-speech group PEN in May. Billed as a uniquely Canadian
approach to "hactivism," the first generation of Psiphon will then be
made publicly available.

Its release is set to come against a backdrop of ever-diminishing free
access to the Internet. Just last month the popular search engine
Google agreed to self-censor, restricting access to certain content and
websites in order to gain access to the Chinese market.

Sharon Hom, executive director of Human Rights in China, an
international NGO, said the country has managed to create "a culture of
fear and self-censorship." They are helped, she added, by Western
countries willing to sell Internet-monitoring equipment to Beijing and
bend to its terms.

Mr. O'Brien noted that public knowledge of monitoring can have as major
an effect as the surveillance itself.

"You don't need to arrest every dissident and you don't need to take
down every website. You just need to give the impression that you're
watching," he said. "Merely establishing that you are being watched has
a great effect on freedom of expression."

Activist groups around the world work to shine a spotlight on such
repression, hoping that publicity and pressure will bring about change.

Although Psiphon is a purely Citizen Lab project, Prof. Deibert's team
is also part of the Open Net Initiative. It's a partnership that
includes Harvard and Cambridge universities and tries to document the
extent of state interference on the Internet.

In Prof. Deibert's words, they try "to turn the tables on the watchers,
to watch the watchers."
posted by @netwurker at 6:00 am
Subject: shac7 and electronic civil disobedience
Reply-To: lotu5

The shac 7 case is very alarming. From what I've gathered, these people
are facing serious prison time for operating websites that promote
direct action against a corporation that does testing on animals. I
wonder when we'll be facing jail time for linking to "digitally
incorrect" websites, like sherman austin did.

"Specifically, these activists are alleged to have operated a website
that reported on and expressed ideological support for protest activity
against Huntingdon and its business affiliates. For this they are
charged with "terrorism" and face an aggregate of 23 years in Federal

The highlight of the week is when the government called a 20 year old
activist from Ohio who was "caught" participating in an electronic civil
disobedience (ECD) (the act of visiting a website with special software
designed to overflow a server's bandwidth and effectively crash the
site) and who sent black faxes. Undoubtedly, the government expected him
to testify that SHAC USA and/or its website caused him to do these
things. Instead, he repeatedly said he learned about it from other
places, participated in the actions on his own freewill, and none of the
defendants had anything to do with his actions. When asked why he had
sent the black faxes, he said that he was angry after watching the
undercover footage at HLS where workers are hurting beagles."

- --

encrypted mail preferred // gpg key id 0x250E12BF
gpg howto:
radio Antifascista podcast:
// || ||
Monday, February 20, 2006
posted by @netwurker at 9:42 pm
Professor Mark Denbeaux* and Joshua Denbeaux*
An interim report

The media and public fascination with who is detained at Guantanamo and why has been
fueled in large measure by the refusal of the Government, on the grounds of national security, to provide much information about the individuals and the charges against them. The information available to date has been anecdotal and erratic, drawn largely from interviews with the few detainees who have been released or from statements or court filings by their attorneys in the pending habeas corpus proceedings that the Government has not declared “classified.”
This Report is the first effort to provide a more detailed picture of who the Guantanamo
detainees are, how they ended up there, and the purported bases for their enemy combatant
designation. The data in this Report is based entirely upon the United States Government’s own documents.

read the entire article at:
Sunday, February 19, 2006
posted by @netwurker at 10:33 am
Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2006 22:16:55 -0800
From: Sasha Costanza-Chock
Subject:The Globalization of Resistance to Capitalist Communication

The Globalization of Resistance to Capitalist Communication

Sasha Costanza-Chock
schock AT



1 Unorganized Resistance
2 Mass Movements
3 Communication/Knowledge/Cultural Workers
4 Reformers
5 Autonomist Media Networks



The first years of the new millennium saw the continuous and seemingly
unstoppable onslaught of capitalist globalization, greater consolidation
of the cultural industries in the hands of ever fewer multinational
conglomerates, and a blanket of information warfare, perpetrated by
those conglomerates in conjunction with the Bush administration,
intended to mask the horror of that administration's repeated, criminal,
unilateral deployment of deadly military force. Yet these same years
also saw extraordinary growth in the size, sophistication, and
coordination of various progressive and radical tendencies that aim to
block further commodification of, and seize control over, communication
and cultural production. These tendencies are globalizing in several
senses: first, there is the rapid, unorganized, worldwide explosion of
freely distributed audiovisual materials and software, which implicitly
or explicitly undermines the so-called 'intellectual property rights'
regime; second, there is significant deepening of the links between mass
movements that resist the enclosure of the knowledge commons; third,
workers and unions in the knowledge, culture, and communications
industries are adopting a more progressive internationalist stance;
fourth, reformist organizations that aim to change state or corporate
communications practice or policy are forging stronger international
ties; fifth, local autonomous media production is increasingly linked in
global networks.i Across the spectrum, there is an increase in awareness
of and actions targeting the trade regimes and supranational
institutions that affect communication systems, and a corresponding
recognition that alternatives must be developed, supported, and extended=

Of course, these tendencies do not advance unopposed. Capital does
everything in its power to promote splits between them, and to crush the
growth of real alternatives to profit-driven communication systems. The
key to the successful advance of alternatives will be for reformers and
autonomists to sidestep the 'in/out' dichotomy, and to develop
solidarity between those who seek to hold state or corporate media
accountable, produce structural policy changes, and create fully
autonomous communication. The battle for structural change must take
place both in the arena of naked confrontation with capital, such as the
so-called 'free trade' deals like the WTO/GATS/TRIPS, and in the
convoluted venues where capital now seeks to mask and legitimate the
logic of the market by providing symbolic seats at the table, such as
the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

In this chapter I provide a brief theoretical orientation, then
illustrate each of these tendencies with examples, and conclude by
considering the serious threats to the globalization of movements for
control of communication posed both by organized capital and by internal
tensions between reformist and autonomist camps. Despite these threats,
I argue that there are clear signs of the growth of a transnational
movement around popular control of communication, and that this movement
must be nurtured as a key element in the struggle to establish
alternatives to neoliberal adjustment, imperialist war, and other
manifestations of capitalist globalization.


Media, communications, and the entire cultural sector are now more
highly concentrated in the hands of a few powerful multinational
conglomerates than at any time in human history. Never has the sector
been so profitable; never has it represented a greater proportion of
capital accumulation; never has it extended so far into every corner of
life. For progressives who hope for greater democratization of
communications, lobbying in the halls of power appears to be less
effective with each passing moment. Structural solutions to the extreme
power held by corporate communications conglomerates over
representation, public discourse, and the political process are
hamstrung at the starting gate by the selfsame corporate media lobby: in
the USA, these companies spend millions each year wining and dining
Congress and the Federal Communications Commission in order to assure an
ever more favorable regulatory climate (Williams and Jindrich, 2004).
The only coherent response to the consolidation of capital's control
over communications at every level =96 production, distribution,
regulatory environment, access to globalized markets through removal of
'barriers' like public broadcasting and monopoly limits, and the
commodification of previously personal or collective forms of knowledge,
information, and communication in the form of so-called 'Intellectual
Property Rights' (IPRs) - is the development of a movement that combines
concrete demands for reappropriation of the public resources that enable
communication (the public domain, the electromagnetic spectrum, the
geosynchronous satellite orbits) with the active construction of radical
communication networks and practices.

This is not a pipe dream. In every facet of communication that has been
penetrated by capital, or caught in the straightjacket of neoliberal
policies adopted by local elites or imposed from above, we find the
reflection of myriad bottom-up resistances and concrete existing
alternatives. This is true for the production and distribution of
cultural 'goods and services' via a range of alternative and autonomous
spaces, sites and networks, as well as for the hacking, altering, and
reconfiguration of hardware, software, infrastructure, and
sociotechnical practices. It is also true in terms of mass resistance,
both organized in social movements and replicated widely in everyday
practices, to the IPR regime, the commodification of previously common
information forms, and the growth of the market for personal
information. It is also true for those international governance
institutions that bear on communications, which face increasing pressure
to implement transparency and democratic reforms, and for US designs to
consolidate control over cultural industries by extending the 'free
trade' regime to audiovisual services, a process that, in 2005, faces
the largest coordinated opposition since the New World Information and
Communication Order debates of the 1980s.

The year 2003 alone saw the continued breakneck expansion of autonomous
media systems, including the spread of the Independent Media Center
network to more than 130 local nodes in over 60 countries. In the USA,
2003 was the year of a massive popular outcry against the Federal
Communication Commission's relaxation of ownership caps and
cross-ownership rules, which mobilized groups across the political
spectrum to decry corporate media consolidation and transformed a
seemingly arcane policy battle into one of the most important issues in
Washington. Although this particular battle was a defensive action to
maintain minimal antimonopoly limits within a regulatory status quo
already favoring the corporate sector, it has without a doubt
strengthened local and national advocacy networks and organizations.
Also in 2003, the office of the United States Trade Representative
(USTR) was thwarted not once but twice in its efforts to bring
'audiovisual services' fully into the General Agreement on Trade in
Services (GATS) regime, first at the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Ministerial in Cancun and then at the Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA) Ministerial in Miami (Costanza-Chock, 2003a; Khor, 2003; Neil,
2003). Widespread resistance to the inclusion of the cultural sector in
'free trade' deals also received a powerful boost in 2003 when the
proposal to draft a Convention on Cultural Diversity (CCD), which would
potentially allow each country to maintain public funding, local content
quotas, national ownership requirements, limits on consolidation and
cross-ownership, and subsidies for cultural production against the
mandates of GATS, received the approval of UNESCO's 32nd General
Conference over the objections of the USA. The CCD is now winding its
way through the UNESCO process, with a target completion date of fall
2005 (Coalitions for Cultural Diversity, 2004).

2003 saw what may have been the first, and also the second, street
mobilizations against the Geneva headquarters of the World Intellectual
Property Organization (WIPO). The first such mobilization was part of
the opening salvo against the May meeting of the G8: three to four
thousand people marched from the WTO to the International Organization
of Migration to WIPO, to link the demand for freedom of information to
the demand for freedom of movement (Indymedia UK, 2003). The second such
mobilization took place in December, when autonomous media activists and
progressive NGOs stood together against the implicit endorsement of the
existing IPR regime by the World Summit on the Information Society
(geneva03, 2003)ii. This second action against WIPO took place in the
context of a great deal of activity around the WSIS, which, although a
problematic process that will be discussed in more detail below, does
provide a focal point around which communication reformers, radicals,
and autonomists from around the world have been able to strengthen their

Infocapitalism Sets the Stage

These resistances have not erupted spontaneously. If infocapitalism
requires the wider distribution of information and communication
technologies (ICTs) and associated skills among certain groups of
workers, then at the same time that those workers are trained to
increase their productivity through the use of ICTs, they also become
prepared for new forms of nonwaged activity - including innovative types
of cultural production, active resistance to capital, and self-valorized
information work. Marxian thinkers have long pointed out that
infocapitalism produces technologies and sociotechnical skills that,
though initially designed in the service of capital, can be and have
been appropriated for resistance (Mosco, 1996; Dyer-Witheford, 1999).

This process of reappropriation is not new, and is of course not
specific to information and communication technologies and skills, let
alone to 'new' ICTs. Yet it is possible to specify that infocapitalism,
at the same time as it broadens the base of ICT literate workers in
order to staff the growing cultural, knowledge, information service,
telework, and back-office industries, actively produces the conditions
for a shift in the strategies, tools, and tactics of the resistance
movements. As ICT skills become mainstreamed throughout the population,
existing movements are able to take up these new tools and skills and
add to their capabilities; simultaneously, the increased capitalist
emphasis on immaterial, symbolic, and communicative labor reveals new
pressure points for resistance and sets the stage for the emergence of
movements focused explicitly on democratizing control of communication.

Inequality of Access

Of course, this process is deeply constrained by the radically unequal
distribution of ICTs and sociotechnical skills both between and within
nations. While the development establishment, including national telecom
policymakers and multilateral bodies including the G8 Dot Force, the New
Partnership for African Development (NEPAD), the WSIS, and others frame
this inequality in terms of a so-called 'digital divide,' the phrase is
a thin scrim: ICT access inequalities, for the most part, replicate
other existing disparities (Noronha, 2004). The 'digital divide' is for
the most part the good old economic divide, which is of course also
deeply gendered, as well as constituted by massive inequality according
to ethnicity, caste, age, and other vectors of oppression (Breathnach,
2002; Di Martino, 2001; Skinner, 1998; Wilson, 1998). Nevertheless, it
would be a mistake to dismiss either the potential or actually existing
significance of ICTs to social movements even among the most excluded
populations. In fact, it is clear that the diffusion of ICTs has been
significant not only for NGOs and professionalized advocacy
organizations but also for many social movements. ICTs developed or even
'embedded' in the service of capital have repeatedly been taken up,
reconfigured and redeployed by resistant forces.

ICT Use by Social Movements

The 'new' ICTs are not so new, and neither is the process of their
(re)appropriation by social movements. Almost from the earliest days of
the fledgling Internet, progressives and radicals of all stripes
recognized its potential to amplify and strengthen their work. In the
late 1980s, when ftp and email were the primary capabilities of the
nascent Net, already groups like GreenNet, PeaceNet, LaborNet and
WomensNet seized on these tools for rapid global information
distribution and action alerts (Association for Progressive
Communication, 1997; Banks et. al., 2000; Le=F3n, Burch & Tamayo, 2001;
Surman and Reilly, 2003). The effective use of the Net by solidarity
networks in support of the Zapatista uprising against NAFTA and
neoliberalism should barely need rehearsing here - it has become a
paradigmatic tale of the use of the Net by social movements. The
attention of global civil society, generated in part by the wide
distribution of Subcomandante Marcos' poetic communiques from the
Lacondan jungle, produced the necessary 'boomerang effect:'
international pressure raised the stakes until the Mexican government
was forced to abandon (or perpetually delay) its initial plan to repress
the uprising with overwhelming military force (Keck and Sikkink, 1998;
Ronfeldt and Arquilla, 2001; Smith, 2001).

It is not my aim here to develop a case study of a particular social
movement or organization's use of 'new' communications technologies, or
to rehearse in more sweeping strokes the history of social movement use
of the internet or older communication technologies. Many well-written
case studies and histories already exist, and now proliferate rapidly
across scholarly fields including social movement studies, political
science, and communications, as well as within literature and
documentation produced by radical communicators and by movement
organizations themselves (Rodriguez, 2001; Halleck, 2002; Kidd,
2002)iii. There is a growing body of work that aims to further analyze,
theorize, categorize or map movement use of new communication
technologies, for example in terms of the relation to the shifting
nature of capitalism (Mosco, 1996; Dyer-Witheford, 1999), by
distinguishing between various forms of electronic contention
(Costanza-Chock, 2003b), or in other ways. There is a growing body of
self-reflection by independent media movement participants, as well as
by external observers, drawing attention to persistent problems
including N/S inequalities, gender dynamics, lack of connection to
labor, need for race analysis, and so on (Halleck, 2003; Kidd, 2003;
Milberry, 2003; Indymedia Documentation Project, 2004). The Social
Science Research Council has recently attempted to create a set of
'state of the knowledge' reports examining the ways in which social
movements are using ICTs, and to decipher the various ways in which
changing global governance of ICTs might impact social movements'
continued ability to utilize these technologies to organize for social
change (O'Siochru with Costanza-Chock, 2003; Surman and Reilly, 2003).
In broader strokes, there have long been detailed descriptions of social
movement use of other communications technologies including radio,
video, and of course the printing press. In other words, the recent
interest in social movement use of the Internet reflects only the latest
stage in the broader cycle of the appropriation of communication
technologies by social movements.iv

Given this burgeoning discussion of the adoption, deployment, and
innovation in the use of ICTs by social movements, rather than detail
another case study or attempt to summarize a history, my aim here is to
distinguish between various tendencies within globalized movement
activity focused on communication control. This is crucial, because
capital and its functionaries understand divisions between these
tendencies and take steps to exploit them, to drive in wedges, to split
the emergent movements around communication control between 'good'
reformers who are willing to sit at the table and 'bad' radicals who,
their numbers diminished once the policy advocates have been siphoned
off, professionalized, and given a (back)seat at the table - or at least
in the peanut gallery - can be actively crushed or marginalized into
near invisibility. As the movements around control of communication gain
steam, it is important to develop our own analysis of their composition.
The next section, the main body of this chapter, is an attempt to
understand recent instances of resistance in this light.


At the risk of caricature or reductionism, and always recognizing that
boundaries between categories are blurry and contingent, it is possible
to observe several broad tendencies in the globalization of the
movements for control of communication. These can be grouped into the
following ideal-types: unorganized resistance, mass movements,
communication workers, media monitors, reformist policy organizations,
and autonomists. Of course, it is easy to find examples of organizations
or networks that crosscut each tendency. For example, the global
networks of programmers, hackers, and users who develop and spread Free
/ Libre Open Source Software (F/LOSS) span all categories, from
anarchists who deploy F/LOSS to support radical horizontal communication
during street protests against meetings of international financial
institutions, to policymakers who encourage or mandate the use of F/LOSS
by government agencies and schools. In the final section of this chapter
I emphasize that linkage, crossing, and solidarity within and between
all tendencies is not only desirable but crucial to their mutual
advance. Here, I will ground each category with concrete examples.

1. Unorganized Resistance: File Sharing

First, there is the rapid, unorganized, worldwide explosion of freely
distributed audiovisual materials and software, which implicitly or
explicitly undermines the so-called 'intellectual property rights' regime=

It would be a mistake to look for resistance to capitalist
communication only where it manifests in formally structured
organizations or movements. Perhaps the most widespread opposition
actually exists in the unorganized forms of increased popular distrust
of both state and corporate media, as well as in the practical rejection
of so-called 'intellectual property rights' regimes.

Arguably, one of the largest threats to capitalist control of
communication is the massive everyday undermining of the IPR regime by
millions of Net users who upload, download, and otherwise freely share
texts, music, audiovisual materials, and software. It is true that a
majority of users may not necessarily engage in pirate practices with
the conscious purpose of undermining IPR, an artificial form of resource
scarcity that serves as the linchpin of capitalist control of culture
and knowledge (Martin, 1998). It is also true that technolibertarians
who assert that 'information wants to be free,' quite aside from their
mistaken assignment of agency to the dead product of living human
creative processes, are naive to assume that illicit information flows
cannot be regulated or controlled. To the contrary, vast technical,
legal, and discursive resources have been deployed by both the corporate
sector and the state in their attempts to reign in the hemorrhage of IPR
through fiber optic arteries. These efforts have met with varying
degrees of success, and there is every reason to believe that
recuperation of profits can be reimposed through various layers of
control, including technological, legal, and normative (Lessig, 1999). v
Nevertheless, the seriousness of the threat to the cultural industries,
and to the very principle of information scarcity they impose as a
precondition to squeezing profits from their imposed monopolies on
cultural material, can hardly be overstated.

One indication of the severity of the crisis for the information and
cultural industries are the figures disseminated by those industries
themselves. The International Intellectual Property Association (IIPA)
estimates profits lost to intellectual 'piracy' in 2002-2003 at 1.7
billion in the Americas, 5 billion in Asia, 3.1 billion in Europe, and
894 million in Africa and the Middle East. The IIPA country-by-country
'piracy level' estimates for 2003 find, for example, that in the
People's Republic of China, 95% of motion pictures, 90% of records and
music, and 92% of business software were pirated product. In India,
these figures were 60%, 40%, and 69%, respectively, while in the Russian
Federation, they were 75%, 64%, and 93% (IIPA, 2003). Tellingly, all
these figures are only for 'hard' piracy, or production of material
copies for sale; profits lost to the free distribution of material
through filesharing are so vast that IIPA refuses to even publicly
release estimates.

Domestically, the industry and the state have attempted triage in the
form of lawsuits against individual filesharers, including now infamous
lawsuits against senior citizens and Brianna LaHara, a 12-year-old girl
living with her mother in New York City public housing (BBC, 2003). It
remains to be seen whether this strategy will backfire on the industry;
there are already signs that it has prompted organized resistance to the
crackdown (Werde, 2004). For example, groups like
have begun sophisticated campaigns to mobilize filesharers to take
political action, sponsoring nationwide call-ins to block new, overbroad
federal IP legislation (, 2004a). At the same time,
alternatives to the existing IP regime that would make space for
increased filesharing outside the profit motive are rapidly gaining
ground and globalizing. For example, by 2004, Creative Commons licenses
had been translated from the US to Brazil, Finland, Germany, Japan, and
the Netherlands, with additional translations - both in terms of
language and from legal system to legal system - underway for 15 more
countries (Creative Commons, 2004).

Internationally, the WIPO wrings its hands at the multibillion dollar
'loss' in pirated intellectual property each year. Such figures make the
imposition and enforcement of US-style intellectual property law one of
the most important planks in US trade policy. Here, the US government,
at the bidding of the communications conglomerates, may in the medium
term even be forced to further sacrifice its already withered industrial
and agricultural production on the altar of improved foreign IPR regimes
and access to audiovisual markets. However, grassroots resistance to the
attempts by capital to impose global 'harmonization' of intellectual
property rights, especially through the WTO/TRIPS, has mounted steadily.
In 2003, those attempts were temporarily blocked by the collapse of WTO
and FTAA trade These victories did not proceed, of
course, from disorganized filesharers, but from mass movements of the bas=

2. Mass Movements: Globalized opposition to TRIPS

Second, there is significant deepening of the links between mass
movements of the base that resist the enclosure of the knowledge commons.

Although it receives the lion's share of popular press in the North,
music sharing is far from the only, or the most important, form of
resistance to the imposition of IPR regimes. In the global South, strong
resistance to IPR has been around for decades. This resistance has come
from mass based peasant and small farmer movements, in the battle
against the privatization of seed genes by the agribusiness and biotech
industries, AIDS activists fighting big Pharma for access to generic
versions of patented drugs, and demands from Africa for a moratorium on
all patents on life. Unlike music sharing, these life-and-death battles
against IPR have long been politically organized. In addition, in many
cases these movements have shared unlikely common cause with national
elites interested in opposing the imposition of US-style patent
protections, which limit the possibilities for technology transfer
essential to nationalist 'development' aspirations.

Globalized opposition to TRIPS

These movements of the base that have fought so fiercely against TRIPS,
composed largely of poor peasants, farmers, and the landless, are often
themselves engaged in the appropriation of ICTs for internal
communication and for articulation with solidarity networks that span
the globe. For example, the Brazilian MST (Landless Movement) has
vigorously embraced F/LOSS, and has constructed a nationwide
communications infrastructure and training program through its system of
free schools (Ortellado, 2003). ICTs have played a key role in linking
poor people's movements against TRIPS, seed patents, biotech, and AIDS
drug patents within transnational advocacy networks of NGOs and
solidarity supporters in the North. These movements have gained such
strength and global coordination that they have forced national elites
to shift position in recent rounds of global trade talks, contributing
greatly to the stalemates in WTO and FTAA negotiations in 2003 (Khor,
2003; Eleusa and Sean, 2003; Wallach, 2003).

One key to the continued growth and spread of resistance to capitalist
communication control will be to make explicit the link between these
forms of organized struggle against IPR, based in farmer, peasant, and
other communities, and the unorganized waves of filesharing of 'cultural
goods.' This link has been made by some media activists and radical
thinkers, and to some degree in the development of an alternative legal
regime under GPL and Creative Commons licenses; however, it has not yet
been widely popularized (but see Mute magazine,
Instead, the overwhelming discussion around cultural production remains
reformist, as evidenced by the constant talk of 'balancing' IPRs with
fair use, or the 'rights of the creator' with the 'rights of the user.'
There is also every possibility that music sharing, for example, will be
recuperated in part via schemes like Apple's iTunes, which attempts to
capitalize on the cultural chic of filesharing. iTunes winks at piracy
and attempts to convince people (as consumers) that the process of
downloading is 'resistant' or 'edgy' in and of itself, while continuing
to extract profit from false scarcity (see, 2004b).
Against reformist and recuperative strategies by capital, we need to
link mass unorganized rejection of IPR directly to the life-and-death
struggles over food sovereignty and biomedicine waged by peasants,
farmers, AIDS activists, and other people the world over.

3. Communication Workers: CWA and UNI-MEI

Third, workers and unions in the knowledge, culture, and communications
industries are adopting a more progressive internationalist stance.

While organized labor in all sectors have faced severe pressure
everywhere under neoliberalism, a few unions have been marked by
increasingly visible organizing campaigns. In the late 1990s and early
2000s in the US, this has been the case especially for service workers,
for example the highly visible Justice for Janitors campaign (Bacon,
1999). There has also arguably been increased organizing among knowledge
workers, in the cultural industries, and among the 'creative class.' For
example, there are mounting drives to unionize graduate students, call
center workers, graphic designers, and software workers (Mosher, 2004;
Communications Workers of America, 2003). Pressure on these workers to
organize builds as communication/knowledge/cultural work, supposedly
their 'reward' for supporting the new international division of labor,
in the form of higher-pay, more skilled, more creative jobs that replace
outsourced industrial production and automated agricultural production,
also becomes automated, segmented, deskilled, and outsourced from the
'first world' to sites of cheaper labor. This trend is marked, for
example, in the call center sector, increasingly outsourced to
information sweatshops in 'Free Trade Zones,' to the informal economy on
the margins of global cities, to prisons and Native American
reservations in the US, and to other kinds of information sweatshops
(Skinner, 1998; Breathnach, 2002; Costanza-Chock, 2003c ; Gurumurthy,
2004). There is mounting pressure for software workers to organize, as
higher skill information jobs flee to the lowest bidder both
internationally, as in IBM's 2004 disclosure that it would shift several
thousand programming jobs to India and China over the next year, and
within countries, as in Indian IT giant Infosys' plans to shift jobs
from Bangalore to lower-wage sites in Kerala and Tamil Nadu State
(CNN/Money, 2004;, 2005). Of course, it is true
that these developments are often met first by nationalist
protectionism, and that organized labor has played on white collar
workers' nationalism, xenophobia, and racism in shortsighted attempts to
organize workers behind simplistic protectionist responses. It is an
open question whether this approach can be overcome by more
sophisticated strategies that seek not to 'stop outsourcing,' but to
organize information industry workers globally. Recent decisions by some
of the largest communications and media labor organizations provide
reason to hope that this is the case.


Several of the resolutions passed by the 2003 general assembly of the
Union Network International =96 Media and Entertainment Industries (UNI
MEI) are quite radical and global in their focus, especially the
decision to actively organize part-time, temporary, and outsourced or
intermittent media workers, rather than fight to exclude them from the
production process. UNI MEI also is taking the lead among media workers'
unions by recognizing the importance of the trade regime as a primary
site of power in the cultural sector, and the potentially devastating
impacts on workers in the cultural sector if audiovisual services are
brought fully into the WTO/GATS. Accordingly, they passed a resolution
supporting the proposed Convention on Cultural Diversity, or CCD (UNI
MEI, 2003). Although it may not be possible to make broad
generalizations across the sector, it is clear that at least some
networks of already organized creative workers are internationalizing
their perspectives.

There are of course serious questions as to whether the majority of
software workers, increasingly outsourced, will continue to accept the
decimation of jobs or will begin to organize en masse. It is also true
that deskilling produces multitiered infoworkers who don't necessarily
identify with each other, as in the gulf between infosweat work,
primarily performed by Third and Fourth World women, and
professionalized infowork primarily performed by men (International
Labor Organization, 2001). Infosweat work is often performed in
environments least conducive to organizing, while within the 'top' tiers
of infowork, class consciousness is minimal and programmers are more
likely to belong to professional organizations than to identify as
workers. Still, some of these organizations take quite progressive
stands. For example, Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility
(CPSR) has recently played a key role in organizing to pressure for more
nongovernmental, noncorporate participation in global communication
governance bodies like ICANN and the ITU. This takes us to the fourth

4. Reformers: Media Monitors, Policy Advocates, WSIS, CCD

Fourth, reformist initiatives that aim to change state or corporate
communications practice or policy are forging stronger international ties=

The fourth globalizing tendency of activity against capitalist
communication is the forging of strong international ties between
progressive media reform organizations and networks. By reformers, I
include all those groups that attempt to hold corporate or state media
accountable for isolated instances of bias, or to alter state,
corporate, or multilateral communications policy primarily through
legislation. Both media monitor organizations that observe, critique,
and pressure media corporations into providing more 'balanced' coverage,
and policy advocacy organizations that attempt to gain small concessions
from capital by carving out government approval for a noncommercial
niche, should be understood as reformist. This is not meant in a
pejorative sense, but as an analytical category. What reformist groups
share is that their demands address current power holders: the
(neoliberal) state on the one hand and the corporate sector, on the
other - though it may be more appropriate to describe these as two
fingers of the same hand. In the context of this chapter, what is most
relevant is that some reformists are also beginning to turn attention to
global media governance institutions.

Media Monitors

Media monitors attempt primarily to pressure communication
conglomerates into altering their coverage of particular events or
issues. Actually, in the US context, the most powerful monitor groups
may be those aligned with the center and religious right, who organize
mass complaints about levels of violence, sexual content, and threats to
heteronormative, patriarchal 'family values.' Most recently, they
organized pressure on the FCC to censure CBS for the broadcast of Janet
Jackson's left breast, exposed in a 'wardrobe malfunction' during the
Superbowl halftime show (NOW with Bill Moyers, 2004a). Occasionally,
progressive monitor organizations turn their attention from content to
industry hiring practices, for example to create pressure on media firms
to employ more journalists of color, women, or LGBTQ people. Some of the
most prominent left media monitors in the US include Fairness and
Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Colombia Journalism Review, and, just to name a few. The development of the
media corps mailing list, with tens of thousands of subscribers, links
the monitor function with a version of citizen 'activism' in which large
numbers of emails and phone calls are occasionally able to influence
coverage of a given event.
It may seem at first glance that monitor organizations are little
inclined towards the development of global networks. However, this is
not entirely the case. For example, some momentum has developed towards
the elaboration of an international network of monitor organizations
through the World Social Forum process, where Inter Press Service
founder Roberto Savio has launched a 'Media Watch' initiative that now,
after 3 years, counts 10 chapters in Europe, Africa, Latin America, and
Asia (Miller, 2004). Media Watch functions according to the classic
monitor model, with groups of volunteers observing media content,
tallying evidence of biased coverage, and writing letters to corporate
media editorial staff.

Policy Advocates

Policy advocates attempt to thwart particularly dangerous attempts at
reregulation in the corporate interest, and in some cases introduce new
legislation or amendments to existing legislation, by pressuring
regulatory bodies and elected representatives. The globalization of
policy advocacy operates in at least two ways: increased links between
organizations focused on policy reform at the national level, and at the
same time, increased focus on reforming the institutions of global media
governance. In the past two years, one focal point for these linked
processes has been the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS).

World Summit on the Information Society(WSIS)

The WSIS, convened as a UN summit under the auspices of the ITU, was
intended to bring together governments, the private sector, and
non-governmental organizations to formulate a 'common vision' regarding
information and communication policy around the world. The summit was
designed to take place in two phases: during the first phase, which
culminated in Geneva in December of 2003, all participants were meant to
create a common Declaration and Plan of Action. During the second phase,
scheduled to take place in Tunis in 2005, there is meant to be
assessment and follow-up on commitments made during the first phase.
After a two-year series of regional consultations during which it became
clear that 'civil society participation' was primarily a token designed
to legitimate a process subordinate to the interests of neoliberalism,
the governments and the private sector succeeded in drafting a common
Declaration and Action Plan, predictably watered down to the lowest
common denominator and couched in the language of 'Public Private
Partnerships' to 'bridge the Digital Divide.'

By contrast, the Civil Society Plenary, a self-organized structure for
participation created largely through the efforts of progressive NGOs
that engaged with the WSIS process from the start, released their own
Declaration, a strong consensus document that should serve as a
touchstone in the development of a people-centered 'information
society.' Concretely, WSIS phase I also agreed to set up a high-level
committee to investigate the possibility of shifting responsibility for
internet governance from the US-based Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers (ICANN) to a UN body,vii and another committee to
evaluate a proposed Digital Solidarity Fund to subsidize internet
infrastructure in the developing world. Most important in the context of
the current discussion is not the outcome of the formal WSIS process but
the emergence of strong NGO networks targeting global media governance
processes and institutions, for example the international CRIS
(Communication Rights in the Information Society) campaign. It is likely
that the CRIS campaign, and other networks created around WSIS, will
move on to organize for increased transparency and accountability in
various global media governance bodies including the ITU, ICANN (or its
UN successor), and the WIPO, as well as against further incorporation of
communication sectors into the 'free trade' regime of the WTO, FTAA, and
other regional and bilateral deals..

Convention on Cultural Diversity (CCD)

With regards to the trade regime, these same networks may also play a
key role in the current battle to establish a new international
Convention on Cultural Diversity (CCD =96 although formally titled the
Convention for the Protection and Promotion of Cultural Contents and
Artistic Expressions). The proposed CCD, backed by an increasing number
of states, would be a binding international legal instrument that would
allow each country to exclude its cultural sector from forced
liberalization or privatization under the WTO/GATS or other so-called
'free trade' deals. The CCD has emerged as a potentially powerful buffer
against the persistent attempts of the United States Trade
Representative (USTR) to fully incorporate audiovisual services into
GATS. It has also served as an organizing focus for a global advocacy
network that includes cultural ministers of over 80 countries (the
International Network on Cultural Policy), the NGO International Network
for Cultural Diversity, and the Coalition for Cultural Diversity, with
chapters in a dozen countries and growing (Coalitions for Cultural
Diversity, 2004). These networks, and the CCD itself, are explicitly
designed to counter the reduction of culture to the status of commodity
and the further consolidation of cultural industries in the hands of
ever fewer media conglomerates. They have drawn from the environmental
movement and the concept of biodiversity to articulate a plan to
insulate cultural production from the market, and to guard cultural and
media policy, including local content quotas, public broadcasting, and
limits on foreign ownership, from attack via the WTO/GATS regime
(Bernier, 2003). In October of 2003 a proposal to draft the CCD was
approved by the General Assembly of UNESCO, with a target date of 2005
for completion. The proposal passed with overwhelming support over
initial (informal) attempts by the US delegation to shut it down. It
remains to be seen whether US attempts to amend the CCD to be
subordinate to the WTO, and therefore useless, will be successful;
however, the negotiation process itself has already encouraged many
countries to keep exemptions for their cultural sectors from GATS
(Coalition for Cultural Diversity, 2003).

It is true that the CCD can be seen as, in large part, internecine
warfare between different sectors of capital in the cultural industries:
on the one side, the largest media behemoths based in the US; on the
other, second or third tier national cultural industries of France,
Brazil, Canada, and others. The defense of small cultural producers,
cultural workers, community media and horizontal communication is not
the primary aim of the CCD. Thus in Argentina, for example, we find the
analysis put forward by the artist and cultural workers' collective
LuchArte, allied with the workers' movement Polo Obrero:

Not with 'forums,' 'cultural industries,' or 'media protection laws'
will we defend our popular culture, but rather by making ourselves
conscious that the only ones who can defend it is those who produce it
daily: artists and cultural workers. This is why we propose: "Place the
cultural programs and budget under control of the workers and their
organizations of struggle," and in this way "nationalize the mass media
under workers' control." (LuchArte, 2002).

The proposal of LuchArte takes us beyond the simplistic idea that
neoliberalism merely erodes state intervention in the cultural
industries. Rather, as in other sectors, those states with powerful
cultural industries continue to subsidize them for export while
simultaneously deploying the instruments of 'free trade' and structural
adjustment to eliminate cultural/media subsidies by less powerful
states, in order to force open smaller cultural markets to unimpeded
penetration by their own cultural/media services and products. Indeed,
the USTR is so keen on liberalizing the cultural sector because cultural
'goods and services' is now the second largest US export sector (after
aerospace). At the same time, US media conglomerates continue to receive
massive state subsidies in the form of free access to public airwaves,
tax breaks and countless other sleights-of-hand (McChesney and Schiller,
2002). This hypocrisy behind the free-trade rhetoric has not yet been
laid bare in the cultural sector as it has, for example, in agriculture,
where the Group of 20+ developing countries, led by China, Brazil, and
India, called the US bluff during the Cancun WTO ministerial.

The point here is that, as in other sectors, neoliberalism in the
cultural sphere does not operate on 'the state' in the interests of
'capital' in the abstract. Rather, neoliberal tools are deployed by the
most powerful, (mostly) US based media conglomerates in order to most
effectively pursue expanded markets, which includes sweeping aside state
protection of national cultural industries. This process is opposed both
by powerful sectors of capital, including national communication
industries and lower-tier media firms, and by smaller cultural
producers, cultural workers, and policy lobbyists. Still, it is possible
to recognize these motivations behind the CCD but continue to support
the convention on the grounds that the national space it would protect
remains, for the most part, more accountable and amenable to pressure
from below than the alternative: unchecked domination by US based

5. Autonomous Media Networks: Indymedia, Hurak=E1n Cancun, F/LOSS

Fifth, local autonomous media production is increasingly linked in
global networks.

The final tendency in the globalization of the battle over
communication is perhaps the most vibrant: the increasing articulation
of local autonomous media production within global networks. Here,
radical alternatives are daily put into practice. It must be said that
the terms autonomous, horizontal, independent, alternative, community,
and citizen's media, as well as underground, samizdat, or guerrilla
communication, might all apply to this category; each of these terms has
its own meaning and its own history, and I do not have space to delve
into each or to carefully differentiate. For the purposes of this
discussion, by 'autonomous media' I embrace a loose inclusive definition
of communication practices, groups, sites, and networks of production
and distribution that are at base dependent on neither the market nor
the state. Autonomous media are not supported by advertising and are not
subsidized by corporations or political parties. They are the realm
where 'actually existing communication commons' are developed, put into
practice, and extended.

There are so many beautiful autonomous communications projects, events,
groups, and networks that there is no way to do justice to them here. In
2003 the bottom-up globalization of autonomous media manifested in a
dizzying array of convergence spaces like (just to name a few) Hurak=E1n
Cancun against the WTO ministerial and We Seize! against the WSIS; media
workshops within Enero Autonomo and the World Social Forum; distributed
projects like the Free Radio Area of the Americas; the extension of
global networks like Indymedia; articulations between autonomist media
and labor unions like Jinbonet; the list could go on and on. Rather than
fill the remaining pages with a list, I'll elaborate slightly on just a
few of these.


One undeniable instance of the globalization of autonomist
communication is the explosive growth of the Independent Media Center
(IMC) network since its birth in 1999, drenched in tear gas and rubber
bullets, in the streets of Seattle. I could not repeat the history and
analysis of Indymedia that has been written by Dorothy Kidd, Dee Dee
Halleck, Sheri Herndon, and many others, often members of IMC
collectives themselves - in fact, the IMC network itself has developed a
participatory documentation project that will prove a goldmine for
future IMCistas and scholars of all kinds (see
Rather than tell that history again, I point here to Indymedia as a
living example of autonomous counterweight to corporate global
communication control in several key facets: Indymedia was created and
continues to develop entirely through self-valorized labor; it is
opposed to corporate control both in content and process; it operates
according to the system of open publishing, which means that anyone with
Net access can publish. Editorial control is exercised by collectives
open to anyone with the time, and the amount of control is explicitly
limited. Perhaps most important in the context of the current
discussion, Indymedia provides a model for the articulation of local
with global that demonstrates the possibility of communication practices
grounded in local specificity, language, struggles, and issues of
importance, at the same time amplified and projected across the world.
This happens both on a technical level, through content syndication, and
in the social networks that have emerged around the IMCs: Indymedia is
not only a media organization but also provides a substrate for the
circulation of struggles, as well as for the physical movement of
radical communicators.

The IMC network has its problems, including hidden and not-so-hidden
hierarchies of technical knowledge, gender, race, and class. Indymedia
has been critiqued for its overwhelming emphasis on the internet, often
to the exclusion of more accessible forms of communication. It was born
and continues to be dominated by those located in the North and in the
cities. There are also the difficulties of balancing open publishing
with 'good' content (regardless of the measuring stick). All of these
are the subject of often fierce debate within the IMC network itself.
None of them eliminate the power of the IMC as an actually existing
example of global, horizontal linkage between local autonomist

Hurak=E1n Canc=FAn

The globalization of autonomous communication also operates in ways
that mirror corporate globalization: in parallel and against the summits
of the powerful, independent media convergence spaces form temporary
autonomous zones where communication activists gather not only to
respond to capital but share concrete alternatives, skills, software
tools, social technologies, and collaborate on independent journalism
and cultural production. In 2003, the Hurak=E1n Canc=FAn alternative medi=
convergence marked a model focused on broadening and strengthening the
radical communications networks, by creating an international space of
encounter for trainings, workshops, and skillshares that then fed into
comprehensive, in-depth coverage of the successful mass mobilization
against the WTO Ministerial. Hurak=E1n Cancun was also a space where olde=
community media networks like the World Association of Community Radio
(AMARC), media makers aligned with supposedly anticapitalist but
structurally hierarchical organizations like the Italian Disobedienti
(Global Project), and more 'professionalized' alternative media
organizations (like Free Speech TV) physically worked side by side
within a space predominantly defined by autonomist communicators from
the Indymedia network (Ruiz and Coyer, 2003). In terms of the
articulation between the local and the global, Hurak=E1n Cancun was also
noteworthy for the attention its organizers paid to information
distribution via channels not accessible to those without access to
internet. For example, a daily broadsheet called La Boca del Hurak=E1n
(The Mouth of the Hurricane), based on articles drawn from the open
publishing space of the IMC Cancun newswire, was printed and distributed
throughout the city. This radical communication apparatus stumbled
across a new articulation with reappropriated transportation service
sector labor, as taxi drivers requested multiple copies to hand out to
their fares throughout the city.

Free/Libre Open Source Software (F/LOSS)

Indymedia and Hurak=E1n Cancun, of course, would not be possible without=

the existence of what is actually another one of the most powerful
examples of the global circulation of autonomous communication practice:
the Free/Libre Open Source Software (F/LOSS) movement. The distributed,
self-valorized labor of thousands of programmers has resulted in the
most dynamic, flexible, scalable, software development process on Earth
=96 all for free, in fact antiproprietary; a living refusal of the logic
of capital. Not only that, this process has developed useful tools and
systems that extend far beyond the persistent 'demo mode' that arguably
constrains many autonomous media projects. F/LOSS has crossed the
threshold from geeky periphery to, in some cases, adoption by entire
educational systems or state institutions. The widespread adoption of
F/LOSS poses a material threat to the multibillion dollar proprietary
software industry, to the point that internal memos reveal worried
hand-wringing in the depths of Microsoft's corporate offices (Weber,
2000). Not only that, but as a model of collective, self-valorized
production, F/LOSS threatens informational capital in parallel to the
way that autonomous worker owned factories in Argentina threaten
industrial capital, or collective land ownership by Movimento Sem Terra
(MST) in Brazil threatens agricultural capital. Not surprisingly, the
links are increasingly explicit: in 2003, MST strengthened the
communications network it has created between its own autonomous
schools, built with donated, retooled computers and F/LOSS software. At
the World Social Forum in 2003, MST activists entered computer labs and
replaced Microsoft operating systems with Linux, then remained in the
space to train all those who needed help (Ortellado, 2003). What's more,
the already internationalized F/LOSS movement is increasingly finding it
necessary to take action offline as well as on. In the European Union,
for example, organized opposition continues to mount against the EU
Copyright Directive, with programmers demonstrating in the streets from
Brussels to Budapest (Varady, 2004).

Microsoft is fighting back, of course. In 2003, the software giant
attempted to consolidate its hold in the developing world with
'donations' of billions of dollars of software and hardware. Within
international treaties, and even discussion venues like the WSIS,
Microsoft lobbies hard (through US delegates) to delete even references
to F/LOSS (Barr, 2004). Microsoft is now actively attempting to use the
language and institutions of the development establishment to establish
hegemony in the South. For example, in 2003 Microsoft announced a new
partnership with the United Nations (UNESCO, 2004); at the same time,
the software giant put heavy pressure on WIPO to abandon a planned
meeting to simply discuss the possible benefits of F/LOSS (Krim, 2003).
Adoption of Microsoft OS and software in educational systems throughout
the South is designed to ensure the future hegemony of the software
behemoth, based on the difficulty of retraining and retooling entrenched
software systems and skills. Yet already national and municipal
governments in countries including Brazil, China, England, France,
Germany, Israel, Japan, and South Korea have passed laws requiring the
adoption of Open Source or F/LOSS software by publicly funded agencies
(Schenker, 2003; Veloso et. al., 2003). Government adoption of F/LOSS
ushers us into the discussion of articulations between the various
tendencies in the movement for control of communication.


Intense pressure, both external and internal, generated by the state,
the corporate sector, multilateral institutions, funders, and even from
NGOs and movement organizations themselves, militates towards a split
between the tendencies I have just described, especially between
autonomists and reformists. When pressed, power, as always, responds by
offering seats at the table to a select few who promise to behave. This
process took place with the 'at-large' membership of ICANN, over time
whittled down to fewer and fewer seats with less and less input. It has
taken place with the 'opening' of the ITU - to NGOs who can pay huge
fees. It has taken place in the supposed 'participatory' process of
WSIS, where 'civil society' has been allowed entrance, along with the
private sector, to a forum where the dominant discourse holds that
universal access to ICTs will magically appear through a process of
privatization and 'public-private partnerships.' At the same time,
capital offers repression if you get uppity: witness the brutal attacks
on independent communicators during the G8 protests in Genoa; the
attacks and arrests of 'non-embedded' reporters in Miami during FTAA
protests; the killing of 'non-embedded' journalists in Iraq (Independent
Media Center, 2001; Hogue and Reinsborough, 2003; International
Federation of Journalists, 2003). However, it is not my purpose to paint
a pessimistic picture or to indicate that the movement to wrest control
of communication from capital is stillborn, hopelessly fragmented,
always at cross-purposes, or subject to immediate defeat, dilution,
appropriation or incorporation by capital. If we look more closely, we
find numerous instances of cooperation, coalition building, and
resource, tool, and skill sharing, producing concrete impacts at
multiple levels. It is these types of articulation between tendencies
that feed the growth of the movement.

For one, reformist policy initiatives to curb the worst excesses of
corporate communication control can be and often are supported
tactically by groups that ultimately aim to establish fully autonomous
communication. For example, groups affiliated with Indymedia have
provided extensive organizing support and coverage of the ongoing FCC
battle. Indeed, autonomist groups often pioneer strategy to force policy
changes; for example, the Prometheus Radio Project, originally founded
by pirate radio enthusiasts, was instrumental in winning Low Power FM
licenses across the USA (Huron and Tridish, 2003). Horizontal
communication networks, or at least instances of horizontal
communication, can be embedded within 'vertical' structures like
organized labor, political parties, or membership-based liberal advocacy
organizations: witness Jinbonet, a radical, alternative media network,
linked tightly to the progressive arm of Korean organized labor; the
incorporation of blogs into the Howard Dean campaign strategy; and the
use of e-voting tools by to devolve some decisionmaking to
its membership. In some instances, national governments support attempts
by community media to link with global networks; this may be the case
with the Chavez government's support of, a portal that
nationally syndicates what is purportedly community-based news. It
remains to be seen whether, in Venezuela, the devolution of government
funds to local control via the Bolivarian Circles will lead to a new
kind of relationship between horizontal communication and the state, or
whether the state is simply interested in a strategy of reappropriation
of horizontal communication. Indeed, the state stance towards horizontal
communication can serve as an indicator of the 'true' limits of social
democratic party politics. For example, the Lula administration in
Brazil, swept to power on a populist platform that included promises to
resist neoliberalism, has with one arm supported free software and
fought against the imposition of US-syle copyright and patent law. Yet
with the other arm, it has actually increased funding for enforcement of
the so-called 'Community Radio Law' passed by the previous
administration. Under that law, close to 13,000 Brazilian community
radio stations have now been shut down (Milan, 2004).

These examples point to the difficulty for movements of engaging with
state media policy: on the one hand, movements must attempt to work
with the state in order to check the rise of corporate conglomerate
control, while at the same time the state nearly always threatens to
centralize media control in its own hands. In other words, there is a
need for new models and mechanisms of state-supported, or at least
enabled, horizontal communication practices. For example, concretely:
the state can take action to retake the commons of the electromagnetic
spectrum, by forcing corporate users to pay rent which can then be
devolved to support local communications, or by mandating swaths of
'free spectrum' for use by the public. If there can be a system of
public parks, highways, and waterways, there is no reason why we can't
imagine systems of public spectrum. In a similar vein, we can easily
imagine, and in fact we see in at least a few cases, the nation, state,
or city putting resources into ensuring free ubiquitous high speed
wireless, as a public service akin to water or roads. The state can, and
as we have seen some have begun to, mandate the adoption of Free/Libre
Open Source Software by all state offices and agencies, including the
education system.

There are many other ways in which movements can pressure states into
rolling back the IPR regime, blocking the further enclosure of the
knowledge commons, and laying a fertile field for the growth of public
knowledge and culture. Movements must continue to encourage states to
resist arm-twisting towards the criminalization of filesharing and of
so-called 'intellectual property theft' via trade instruments like TRIPS
(or 'TRIPS plus,' as in the FTAA). In fact some states are resisting the
IPR regime, most notably Brazil and India (to some degree) over drug
patents, but this lays the groundwork for broader resistance in the
sphere of cultural production and communication. Increasing numbers of
states, especially the less developed countries, are taking explicit
stands in favor of F/LOSS. From the perspective of policymakers in
India, Brazil, and elsewhere, this last may simply be a cost-saving
measure, or even a snub to Washington; the result, however, is a greatly
expanded field of opportunity for the spread and mainstreaming of the
horizontal, participatory, global gift economy project that is F/LOSS.
In terms of trade in cultural 'products,' as discussed above there is
growing momentum behind the proposed Convention on Cultural Diversity to
exempt cultural industries from the trade agreements entirely, allowing
countries to protect and invest in local cultural production without
threat of economic sanctions.

In another form of articulation between movement tendencies,
'alternative' communication channels operating within the framework of
the media market system can provide space for the wider dissemination of
media content produced by autonomist networks. For example, Free Speech
TV regularly runs IMC content on the Dish satellite network, and FSTV
producers often share footage with IMC videographers. In the Miami
mobilization against the FTAA, as in many other cases, the Indymedia
video working group shared hours of footage with FSTV producers, and
vice versa, while in Hurak=E1n Cancun, FSTV and the IMC worked out of the=

same physical space (Ruiz and Coyer, 2003). These collaborations do
often run afoul; for example, when the FTAA IMC video working group
provided footage to Bill Moyers' NOW for a segment on police brutality
in Miami, NOW ultimately ran clips from the footage without crediting
FTAA IMC, in a segment that replicated the classic 'good peaceful
protesters/bad anarchists' script (NOW with Bill Moyers, 2004b). This
took place after debate raged within FTAA IMC over whether and under
what terms footage could be shared, sold, or given to producers working
on content to be aired on corporate TV networks, including PBS. Still,
when such terms are carefully negotiated, autonomist networks are
occasionally able to sustain and extend explicitly anticapitalist
communication in practice. It is also clear that alternative media
networks, including autonomists, are the only media that we can expect
to provide good coverage of policy battles over control of

Links also exist between media monitors and policy reformers. While all
media monitor work to some degree provides fodder for those groups
aiming at policy change, a few organizations have made the link between
the two types of media reform explicit. This is the case with Calandria,
a Peruvian NGO that combines media watch, policy advocacy, and
development of participatory democracy. In 2003 Calandria gathered the
requisite number of signatures (45,000) to introduce a referendum to
reform the Peruvian media system. The initiative currently faces a
stonewall by legislators, but significantly, was successful at
denaturalizing the commercial media system and creating widespread
awareness and action towards structural media reform (Alfaro, 2003).

A few networks, for example the CRIS campaign and
OURmedia/NUESTR@Smedios internationally, the Medios Libres group in
Mexico, and the N/Euro meeting in Europe, have recently emerged as
spaces devoted explicitly to developing and strengthening links between
the various tendencies. Other spaces for dialog between movements, for
example the World Social Forum and various regional forums, have
increasingly included communications in their analysis and groups
focused on communication among their attendees.

Finally, as problematic as 'civil society' inclusion in global
governance mechanisms may be, the slight opening of global media
governance institutions also provides unprecedented opportunities for
the growth and strengthening of grassroots media networks. Funds and
face to face meetings cluster around official 'inclusion' processes,
which may therefore be quite important not for the stated reasons (since
inclusion is largely token), but as venues where groundwork is laid to
strengthen the emergence of a global movement for people-centered
communication on a scale similar to other transnational movements.

These developments all take place alongside growing awareness by
independent media makers, media policy activists, and trade justice
activists that the struggle over control of communications must link
more tightly with other arms of the global justice movement. Corporate
communication conglomerates, faced with a new wave of dissatisfaction
and mobilization in national contexts, are shifting communications
policymaking to even less democratic venues. Even modest national level
policy victories will evaporate in the face of trade sanctions and other
enforcement mechanisms unless the battle is joined at the institutions
of global media governance. The various tendencies within the growing
global movement for control of communications must guard against
mounting pressures to succumb to 'in/out' dichotomies, and seek out
articulations, links, and common areas of mobilization. These
articulations are indeed taking place, while the movement builds
strength in global, national, and local policymaking arenas and
continues to construct radical alternative communication practices on
the ground.


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