WTO web stuff

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Wed Nov 24 18:48:35 PST 1999

The WTO summit site official site is at <http://heva.wto-ministerial.org/>. On that site, WTO boss Mike Moore complains about the impostors that are "undermining WTO transparency." These include: <http://www.gatt.org/> (a product of <http://rtmark.com/>) and <http://www.seattlewto.org/>. Says Moore <http://heva.wto-ministerial.org/english/press_e/press151.htm>:

>WTO DG Moore deplores fake WTO websites: They "undermine WTO transparency"
>23 November 1999
>WTO Director-General Mike Moore has severely criticized
>recently-created websites which mimic the WTO's websites and create
>confusion among the public. He says the WTO welcomes criticism and
>change, but is concerned that the confusion created by the fake
>sites with their misleading Internet links is a disservice to the
>public. This could disrupt a much-needed debate by making WTO
>information more difficult to obtain.
>This is the text of his statement:
>"I am deeply concerned about the recent appearance of anonymous
>websites which copy important design features of the WTO's official
>websites. This causes confusion among visitors looking for genuine
>information from the WTO, disrupting a much-needed democratic
>dialogue. It's illegal and it's unfair to those who have a genuine
>case in criticizing the WTO, an organization that only functions
>with the authority of sovereign governments.
>"By creating confusion, the fake websites are interfering with the
>public's ability to obtain information from the WTO. They have
>copied the WTO website's design, and they use domain names such as
>'www.gatt.org' and page titles such as 'World Trade Organization /
>GATT Home Page' which make it difficult for visitors to realize that
>these are fake pages. Whereas the WTO uses the image of the official
>logo of the WTO Ministerial Conference as a hyperlink to the
>official conference website, these fake sites use it to link to
>anti-WTO material - further misleading web users.
>"The WTO and its members uphold the rights of others to criticize
>and comment on WTO affairs, including the right to protest publicly.
>The WTO is, after all, a forum for governments to debate and
>negotiate trade issues, reflecting the various concerns and
>interests of their citizens.
>"Confusing the public is another matter. Contrary to critics'
>allegations, the WTO is highly transparent. The WTO website already
>contains over 60,000 official documents in the three official
>languages (English, French and Spanish), including minutes of
>meetings, and some 200,000 visitors per month download the
>equivalent of millions of pages of documents in addition to browsing
>regular web pages. The vast majority of these documents are released
>to the public immediately and the rest are derestricted within about
>six months. The WTO Secretariat receives and replies to thousands of
>enquiries each week by telephone and email, a large number coming
>through the WTO website, either directly by email or via the contact
>telephone numbers on the website.
>"Those who wish to see the WTO become more transparent should join
>me in deploring any action which makes it more difficult for the
>public to gain access to WTO information. It's ironic that while the
>WTO is accused of lacking transparency, some critics who put out
>misleading or false information are camouflaging their identities.

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