Representatives of 175 nations and international organizations are meeting to in Tunis today through Friday as part of the World Summit on the Information Society
. Ten thousands of attendees are expected. But China, Brazil, Russia, Cuba, Iran, and Syria will challenge the United States’ sole management of the 'net through ICANN. For once, the USA is doing the right thing in preventing the Balkanization of the Internet where a number of countries, some authoritarian, wish to exercise greater political control over internet presence and to break up the global network into small national systems. (However, no slack is cut for ICANN for its authoritarian behavior and political maneuverings in having blocked all Libyan domains for five days in a fit of pique last year at this time).
But let’s turn to Tunisia, the host of the conference and the darling of Washington. Behind the mask is a police state which tolerates no criticism, violates human rights and muzzles the press. Tunisian President-for-Life Zin El- Abidin Ben Ali has turned his country into a police barracks. He isn’t such a good host, either. French reporter Christophe Boltanski, special correspondent for the newspaper Libération
, was beaten up by unknown persons after he reported on a brutally dispersed demonstration in support of hunger striking dissidents.