Felipe Rodriquez, Sys Admin in the Hacktic Foundation

In Holland—a country of 14 million—one organization offers low-cost Internet access to all. For about Dfl. 130 ($65 U.S.) a year and the cost of local phone calls, anyone can get a mailbox from the Hacktic Network Foundation and use its services to exchange files and mail. The estimated number of users, both direct and through linked-up bulletin board systems (BBS’s), is between 1000 and 1500.

The Hacktic Network Foundation is a non-profit, all-volunteer group of system administrators. They work together without choosing fixed roles, and describe themselves rather flamboyantly as techno-rebels. The foundation is committed to extending network use to low-income people, political activists, and ethnic minorities.

Among the organizations brought online by the Hacktic Foundation are APS (Activist Press Service), WISE, Newsdesk (a politically oriented radio station), Ultimatum (a South American oriented political group), and Janssen & Janssen (an organization that monitors government agencies). The foundation provides free access to financially strapped organizations, and technical support to politically important projects.

The foundation tries to publicize the Internet widely. Its network is used by journalists from the NRC-Handelsblad and the Volkskrant, two major Dutch newspapers. The foundation also hopes to inspire organizations to provide Internet access to underdeveloped countries. Currently it is helping another group bring the Internet to the occupied Israeli territories.

Internally, the network is a hierarchically-organized system with over 100 nodes and 8 dial-in lines to the central system. It uses special packet-switching protocols over UUCP to provide several Internet services locally, such as telnet and ftp. A gopher interface makes access as simple as possible to services besides mail and news. Using a dial-up connection to a system maintained by Nlnet, Hacktic exchanges files with the rest of the world.



Following is Felipe Rodriquez’s statement about government policy and community networks.

The Worldwide Impact of Network Access by Felipe Rodriquez

Community networking can change how governments operate because the people will have access to all kinds of information. With local networks and communities communicating with each other, governments will find it increasingly difficult to have a monopoly on information.

International communication has at last become cheap and reliable. All of us will benefit if access to the net is open to everyone. It is especially important for political minorities to organize and grow by means of electronic communication.

Already, alternate groups (political, environmental, and so forth) are greatly increasing their use of the Internet, and resources for them are also increasing at a rapid rate. For environmental groups the Internet has proven to be an excellent pool of resources. Ecological data is being made accessible through databases and mailing-lists, some wonderful examples being envirogopher and the United Nations gopher.

Governments must increase their involvement on an international scale in developing the Internet. This means investments in the networking infrastructure (which are happening in the U.S. and in Europe), as well as policies to ensure public access. Here are some of the most pressing issues.

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