WTO Director-General Mike
Moore has severely criticized recently-created websites which mimic the WTOs
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
"I am deeply
concerned about the recent appearance of anonymous websites which copy important design
features of the WTOs official websites. This causes confusion among visitors looking
for genuine information from the WTO, disrupting a much-needed democratic dialogue.
Its illegal and its unfair to those who have a genuine case in criticizing the
WTO, an organization that only functions with the authority of sovereign governments.
confusion, the fake websites are interfering with the publics ability to obtain
information from the WTO. They have copied the WTO websites 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.
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. Its ironic that
while the WTO is accused of lacking transparency, some critics who put out misleading or
false information are camouflaging their identities.