Rattling Seattle

Digital technology is proving a more powerful weapon for protest than anyone could ever have imagined, as witnessed at last week’s World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle. Protests that put the WTO’s allegedly corporate globalisation agenda at the top of newsroom running orders around the world were coordinated on the Net and by mobile phone. Catch the WTO director general’s statement at www.wto.org/wto/new/press157.htm, and a view from protesters in London at www.urban75.com/Action/news095.html. Even media tycoon Rupert Murdoch is on record saying that authoritarian regimes have everything to fear from the new digital communication technologies. And in Seattle—where US president Bill Clinton urged the WTO to become more open about its activities—this was certainly shown to be the case. Protests began discreetly, with stickers appearing recently on London tube trains advertising the URL of Reclaim The Streets, at www.gn. apc.org/rts. This site pointed to www.bak.spc.org/N30london/intro.html where a virtual train ticket (keep clicking on the graphics) announced a meeting at London’s Euston Station—which turned to confrontation and many arrests in the evening. Ironically, people seeking info about the Electrohippies’ virtual sit-in on the WTO site managed to jam the servers at their own provider, Green Net. Earlier this year, protests erupted simultaneously in Strasbourg, Athens, London, Moscow and the Netherlands when the Turkish authorities apprehended Kurdish leader Abdullah Ocalan. The Kurdish pan-European satellite TV station, MED-TV, was said to be coordinating the protests—many of which were violent—and was subsequently banned in Britain for incitement. Catch the station’s reaction at www.ib.be/med/. So it’s not only the Internet that’s globalising agitprop—but that’s the way things are going, as phone lines and disc drives are a lot harder to ban than TV broadcasts. More on these topics:
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