That is the phrase I brought back from Harvard Forum II that I attended on behalf of LIRNEasia a few weeks back. In 2003 they held Harvard Forum I (which, among the LIRNE.NET group only Alison Gillwald attended). One of the results was the funding of organizations like LIRNEasia that seek to remove policy and regulatory barriers to the use of ICTs. This time the focus was on “what next.
Asia Times Online Most Internet accounts in Myanmar are designed to provide access only to the limited Myanmar intranet, and the authorities block access to popular e-mail services such as Gmail and Hotmail. According to the OpenNet Initiative (ONI), a joint research project on Internet censorship issues headed by Harvard University, Myanmar’s Internet-censorship regime as of 2005 was among the “most extensive” in the world. The research noted that the Myanmar government “maintains the capability to conduct surveillance of communication methods such as e-mail, and to block users from viewing websites of political opposition groups and organizations working for democratic change in Burma”. An ONI-conducted survey of websites containing material known to be sensitive to the regime found in 2005 that 84% of the pages they tested were blocked. The regime also maintained an 85% filtration rate of well-known e-mail service providers, in line with, as ONI put it, the government’s “well-documented efforts to monitor communication by its citizens and to control political dissent and opposition movements”.
At an ICT policy consultation meeting in Dhaka, organized by the APC (http://www.apc.org/), two participants prompted a much needed reality check for a room full ICT4D professionals. Mridul Chowdhury, a research affiliate at the IT Group in the Berkman Centre, Harvard University also a director of D.Net, kick-started the discussion with a presentation that questioned some of the key assumptions that that form the premise to much work in the ICT4D space.