Thursday, 13 March 2008

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Thai Foreign Minister to reopen Saudi gems scandal case

Thailand hoped to restore the former warm relations enjoyed with Saudi Arabia by concluding the 1980s gems scandal case and other cases believed link to the saga, according to Foreign Minister Noppadon Pattama.

Mr. Noppadon met Saudi charge d'affaires Nadil H. Ashri who made a courtesy call on him at the ministry.

The foreign minister later told reporters he affirmed Thailand wanted to normalise diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia with the aim of re-establishing the Saudi Arabia Embassy and again welcoming its ambassador to Thailand.

Mr. Noppadon added diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia could be restored after a conclusion of cases including the Saudi diamond theft and murder of four Saudi diplomats and the disappearance of one Saudi businessman in the 1980s.

Justice Minister Sompong Amornwiwat and acting director general of the Department of Special Investigation Pol. Col. Thawee Sodsong would be invited to coordinate the reopened investigation to resolve the cases and finding a solution which would satisfy Riyadh, he said.

The minister stressed that the government would seriously address the case and would find and punish the wrongdoers behind the cases.

The case dates to the late 1980s when Kriangkrai Techamong, a Thai worker employed in the palace of a Saudi prince, stole jewellery and other valuables from the Saudi royal family's palace and escaped with the cache of jewels to his Lampang home.

The Thai police retrieved some of the stolen items, but a number of the most valuable gems and jewellery pieces have not been recovered.

Moreover, when the recovered treasures were returned to Saudi Arabia, the main jewel, the "Blue Diamond", proved to have been replaced with an artificial stone.

While one Thai police general went to prison for his role in the affair, the overall case is still unresolved, including murders of several Saudi diplomats and the disappearance of a Saudi businessman, which resulted in Thailand's diplomatic relations with Saudi being downgraded to the charge d'affaires level.

The unresolved cases have hampered political, economic and trade relations between the two countries for 20 years.

There were 150,000-200,000 Thai workers in Saudi Arabia before the cases but now there are only 10,000 workers there, Mr. Noppadon said, adding that Thailand had lost Bt200 billion income as fewer Thai workers were allowed to go to Saudi Arabia. (TNA)

Major labels challenge mere conduit in Ireland

The four major record companies have launched a lawsuit against Eircom, the largest ISP in Ireland, alleging that it is “making available” copyrighted music tracks through its network. The lawsuit aims to force Eircom to introduce network level blocking of peer-to-peer filesharing.

According to reports on The Irish Times, Eircoms lawyers have said that the company has no knowledge of specific instances of illegal activity infringing on the rights of the record company, and reasserted Eircom’s protection from being forced to monitor its network under the terms of the Electronic Commerce Directive.

Eircom has refused to institute network level content controls, citing the same Directive. As a “mere conduit”, Eircom cannot be held liable for content that it merely carries over its network. If continued to judgment, this case may set an important precedent: whereas the recent Belgian case of Sabam v Scarlet was widely criticised as being wrongly decided at first instance because it was brought against a smaller ISP with inadequate legal defense resources, Eircom is a fully-funded former monopoly national telecoms operator.

Perhaps the record companies believe they can get a faster - or preferable - decision from the Irish High Court than by waiting for an Appeal Court view of the Belgian case, which might go against them now Scarlet is now supported by Belgacom’s financial muscle.

Further background is available on Lex Ferenda. (Takken from Linx website)

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Was there really a plot?

A plot to assassinate the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was foiled by British counter-terrorist police, it was revealed on Wednesday.

Officers seized a courier as he tried to smuggle £166,000 through Heathrow airport on a flight from the US to Syria.

They believe the cash was bound for a group of dissident Saudis in Britain who planned to kill Crown Prince Abdullah. The money, in US dollar notes, was uncovered during a search in 2003. A man has since been convicted in connection with the incident.

Det Supt Mark Holmes, head of the National Terrorist Financial Investigation Unit, revealed the plot at a counter-terrorism conference in Brighton yesterday.

He said: 'We seized 330,000 US dollars in a cash disruption exercise at Heathrow Airport.

'The money was coming to the UK for distribution around UK-based Saudi dissidents. We suspect this was going to be used to facilitate the murder of Crown Prince Abdullah.'

Mr Holmes said the case highlighted how important the distribution of cash was to a terrorist network.

Crown Prince Abdullah took the Saudi throne in 2005 and travelled to Britain last year.

He was greeted by Gordon Brown – and the Queen later hosted a 170-guest banquet in his honour at Buckingham Palace.

He was also at the centre of an alleged assassination plot by Libya in 2004.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Whats with the IGF UK?

The challenges that face everyone today includes ‘how to manage the “Governance ” of the internet, this is because some want an international authority, and others fear bureaucracy and mainly as the current US position over the internet draws to its concluding end in two years, questions as “what next?” begs to be answered (and quick!). However, whilst the international arena quibbles over “who controls”, issues such as child online protection are put on hold.

The UK seems to lead the world in creating a national IGF, the government parliament opened dialog with industries, NGO’s and civil societies (although by a show of hands on 6-8 civil society representatives attended yesterday) and have been drawn together to

- Report back from Rio
- Setting the agenda to feed the views into the main IGF in Hyderabad this December.

This is great in my view, as it demonstrates what can be done though this “partnership” approach to other reluctant governments around the world.

So what’s been the story in the UK so far?

In 2005 the UK delegation at the WSIS succeeded in promoting the idea of “dynamic coalitions” and “enhanced cooperation” as a better and more flexible way of making progress. Through the establishment of this process, government, law enforcement agencies, industries, civil society and academia developed a cooperation and partnership approach to online governance within the UK. It has since moved on to focus UK best practice and serve as a potential stereotype model for other national IGF’s (non around yet to the best of my knowledge).

What next from the UK IGF this year?

- Seminar event in May, where all stakeholders will explore UK concerns looking forward to the IGF themes: Security, Diversity, Access, Openness.
- July 9th, Best Practise awards presentations where the winning nominations will be identified in the UK’s best practice agenda for Hyderabad.
- Pre-IGF event in October to consolidate UK messages and prepare for the IGF in Hyderabad.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

UK Internet Governance Forum & Best Practice Challenge Launch

Ok.. well tomorrow i should be off to the Internet Governance Forum UK. Ill report on that when i get back from London i guess.

The Location is Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster

The event is presented by Nominet in collaboration with the Rt Hon Alun
Michael MP and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory

At the Rio meeting, Rt Hon Alun Michael MP made a commitment to create a
multi stakeholder UK IGF to support the international process.

The event will feature:

* A report back from the IGF in Rio.
* Official launch the UK IGF.
* Key components of the UK IGF:
* Plan of action from now until Delhi
* Best Practice Challenge 2008
* Crime Reduction Partnership
* Promoting grass-roots online participation
* Supporting the dynamic coalition between child protection and free
* speech organisations

IG capacity building programme

well today i have started an online course (part of malta university, I think) titled Internet Governance capacity building programme by Diplo Foundation, aims to introduce an analytical insight in challenging Internet Governance related topics. The research programme in Internet Governance and policy is aimed to help developing countries to facilitate community-building amongst individuals with different national, cultural, and professional backgrounds. So Should be good and interesting to see how it all pans out!