Media access to the Madrid Summit

Martín Varsavsky, our host at the International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security, has been handling some awkward questions about media access to the summit. Over thirteen hundred journalists were invited to the summit, but none are admitted to the main conference hall. Instead, they're set up in the hotel across the street, where attendees, who are so inclined, can visit and give an interview.

Martín's not thrilled – it hardly seems consonant with democratic principles that the press isn't admitted to this gathering. Unfortunately, the Spanish secret service felt like they couldn't provide adequate security for world leaders if they had to admit these journalists.

In an odd twist, a few dozen bloggers – conference attendees – are blogging the conference. So, in that spirit, here's a videoblog of Martín talking about the situation.



  • As someone attending the safe-democracy conference, I find the enthusiasm of your group for an open society and the potential of the internet to promote democracy very refreshing. However, in an earlier panel today, Steve Lukasik, the inventor of the internet was much more negative, and was highly alarmed about the vulnerability of the internet, and its infrastructure, like open democracy, to those unafraid to attack openness and civility (also posted on Joi Ito’s blog). dcg

  • Dru – Thanks for bringing up the Lukasik comments – they’ve been referenced a number of times today, and I’m sorry I didn’t get the chance to hear his talk. (I would not characterize Lukasik as the “inventor” of the Internet – there are dozens of people who share that claim.) I’d like to hear more about his vulnerability concerns. In our panel, a number of very smart Internet technical people ended up arguing that the Internet is surprisingly resistant to long-term disruption, much more resistant than centralized communication networks like the telephone network. I came out of the discussion much less alarmed than I had been before participating.

    One very quick example – Paul Vixie, one of the authors of BIND (the software that runs the Internet domain name system) points out that the Internet survives – every single day – denial of service attacks coordinated from 10,000 separate computers. As he points out, either an angry teenager or a terrorist can slow the net down a bit, but no one has demonstrated that they can shut it down.

  • The restrictions to the journalist to access to the Summit are a terrible mistake. There is not much attention in the international press about the contents and the results of the work groups. In the Spanish press, the problem is the same.
    It is a good idea to invit bloggers, but if you promote an open society, open politics and a citizen response to terrorism, you need to disseminate more information for the people.
    And, by now, only mass media can spread the contents of the summit to the general public.
    Journalist in Spain are very angry about this. The result is a lot of traditional messages from politicians and poor information about experts, citizen´s debate and new ideas about terrorism.
    You can see a critic of this politic in my blog.

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