Thursday, November 09, 2006

Home goal

When it comes to home goals I sometimes think that Greece is in a league of its own. This month Athens hosted the Internet Governance Forum's latest meeting at the Divani Apollon Hotel. However, on the eve of the meeting (which amongst other things discussed freedom of speech on the web) we had the case of Antonis Tsiropoulos who was arrested by the authorities for simply linking to a blog that was considered to have libelous content.

If that wasn't enough the venue proved unable to provide internet access to all the delegates. As one reporter present put it;

What on earth am I talking about? The mild insanity of hosting a global, revolutionary Internet conference and then failing to allow anyone to actually access it - the Internet, that is. The wireless access, despite endless complaints yesterday, is still not working at the Internet Governance Forum. This is a mild irritation for most people, but as the mug who is supposed to be officially reporting on what is being discussed online but who is unable to be in the room and online at the same time, it is mind-meltingly annoying.

It isn't helped by the fact that the Greek hosts have assured me - and others far more senior than me - that providing me with a wired connection is "impossible".

All the more galling was to have the prime minister, Kostas Karamanlis (see here for the speech) talking about finding ways to empower the "digitally homeless" when only 27% of Greeks have ever used the internet and the state - run telecommunications organisation (OTE) has failed miserably to provide reasonably priced access, or in many cases any kind of access to vast swathes of the country.

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