Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Internet Freedom: "What are the rules? Who decides?"

"The battle for Internet freedom "
networkworld.com (March 22, 2010)

"What are we permitted to post legally on the Internet? Who is responsible for the content of materials posted on Web sites? Two recent legal cases have highlighted the ongoing battles over control of information being posted on the Internet.

"In Italy, the government of neo-Fascist Silvio Berlusconi, the media magnate who detests the very idea of having anyone else in control of any news media, has drafted legislation to impose government examination of all videos before they can be uploaded to the Web. In a related case, an Italian judge convicted Google executives of violating a child's privacy rights because someone posted an abusive video on Google Video and Google staff didn't remove it fast enough to suit the judge.

"In contrast, in Iceland, the Wikileaks organization, devoted to open publication of information about government malfeasance, is receiving support from legislators...."

"...These cases raise questions about who decides what can legally be posted on Internet-accessible venues such as blogs and Web sites. If you, personally, run a blog where visitors can leave comments, are you immediately legally responsible for what total strangers post on your Web site? What if they post stolen software? What if a group of religious fanatics who seized power over an entire nation object to cartoons that you have posted on your Web site and issue death threats against you? What if a totalitarian regime objects to a description of its Dear Leader as a degenerate nitwit who lives in luxury while his people starve to death?..."

I think the column gives a pretty good overview of what's involved in people being allowed to express themselves online: and what's been happening lately.

If you like to see something other than photos of cute animals and how wonderful the beloved leaders are: you should probably read this.

Not that I've got anything against cute animals. ("Airbags and the Disapproving Rabbit" (March 23, 2010))

Finally, I think freedom is messy. But I like it.

Related posts:
A tip of the hat to Twitter_Tips, on Twitter, for the heads-up on this column.

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