Anti-Globalisation Battle Shifts into Cyberspace

The anti-globalisation battleground is set to shift into cyberspace as the World Bank prepares to open a major conference online to avoid another round
of mass street demonstrations. Protest groups have warned they are planning to sabotage the virtual conference with a campaign that will be just as disruptive as their marches.

The anti-globalisation battleground is set to shift into cyberspace as the World Bank prepares to open a major conference online to avoid another round of mass street demonstrations. Protest groups have warned they are planning to sabotage the virtual conference with a campaign that will be just as disruptive as their marches.

The World Bank had originally planned to hold its annual development economics conference on globalisation, poverty and wealth in Barcelona next
week.

However, it decided to replace it with a virtual conference amid concerns that it would degenerate into the same scenes witnessed outside almost every
international summit since the riots at the Seattle trade talks in 1999.

The anti-globalisation groups have warned the bank that it will be coming on to their turf in the Internet and that they possess all the cyber weapons
necessary to shut [the conference] down.

The two-day online event will be opened on Monday by the president of the World Bank, Australian James Wolfensohn, and will include Internet video
hook-ups with speakers including professors Jeffery Williamson, of Harvard University, and Jomo Kwame Sundaram, of the University of Malaysia.

Greenpeace says it has more than 100,000 people ready to use their computers to jam the virtual conference by bombarding it with e-mails.

A similar campaign orchestrated by the Friends of the Earth shut down the White House’s official website several times in retaliation for President
George Bush’s decision to walk away from the Kyoto protocol on climate change.

The World Bank has decided to press on with the Internet conference despite the threats, believing there was even greater risk of disruption if it had
stuck with the original plan to hold the summit in Spain.

Thousands of European protesters were planning to descend on Barcelona, many of them with groups that took part in the demonstrations last week
outside the European Union conference in Gothenburg.

A spokesman for the World Bank said that any acts of cyber terrorism next week would reflect badly on the anti-globalisation groups, particularly
"their attitude towards free speech and freedom of discussion."

"We’ve taken reasonable precautions but if there is a major effort to close us down, I can’t promise that the computers will hold up," the
spokesman said.

Author: Mark Riley

News Service: The Age

URL: http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/2001/06/22/FFXUZ11F7OC.html