Nicolas Sarkozy wants to regulate the Internet. Sarkozy wants governments to take the lead.
The Internet, while invented in America, has since its inception never been controlled by any government.
Don Taposcott explained why Sarkozy and others like him want regulation. He cited Ryan Giggs, UK football star who filed a lawsuit against twitter, and twitter users. According to Tapscott, the lawsuit was filed because twitter users ignored a court-ordered injunction that prevents Media from identifying celebrities in an extramarital case of which, Giggs, is “a central figure.”
Then he goes on to write, “The old model of centralized, one-to-many mass media, the hiding of inconvenient truths was easily achieved. No longer.”
“This alarms politicians like Sarkozy,” Tapscott concludes.
The Inquirer quoted Jochai Ben-Avie, a political analyst who said, “When Sarkozy talks about a ‘civilized internet’ he’s talking about a digital world strangled by heavy-handed government regulation which has the potential to greatly infringe our rights. In order to realize the full potential of the internet and indeed to fully realize our rights online, we need the internet to be open, uncensored, and unmonitored. On a more practical policy level, that means committing to citizen-centered policies like net neutrality, it means saying no censorship via government filters, and expanding quality access to the internet for all.”
German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich rejected the call. “We’ll achieve more for our citizens with the privacy codex than we could have done with an ad-hoc law.” The codex was the result of a media outcry in German over Google’s Street View. Companies adopted “a code of good practice,” where images of homes and people could be blurred whenever a citizen requests it.
The German solution seems to be the best. It strikes a balance between an outright law, and fall short of government imposition.
TechDirt in an entry says, “Can we kill off this myth that The Internet is a wild west that needs to be tamed?”
TechDirt goes and explains, “Kettle talks about spam and pornography. Yet, I almost never see spam any more. Why? Because technologists came in and built filters. I never see pornography either. And not because of any laws or filters, but because the websites I surf don’t display any, and contrary to myth makers, it’s pretty difficult to ‘accidentally’ run into porn. I do a lot of surfing, and can’t recall ever accidentally coming across any.”
And he’s right. Spam is pretty much a thing of the past. Unless of course it is your aunt and uncle or a friend sending you quotes and stuff.
Porn? It is pretty much difficult to find porn, unless you go out and Google it. Adult forms are locked away, unless you really go out and find them.
What then happens to due process when Governments simply hijack websites? They send a cease to the web host and the web host because they don’t want to get into trouble simply takes a site down.
Where do people turn to?
Recently, Sony’s site was hacked. Since I have an active Sony account, how certain am I that my data isn’t out there? Sony gives identify theft insurance for certain countries. How about the rest of us who don’t have identify theft insurance in countries we live in? We’re equally vulnerable, right?
Is it one thing for say, Anonymous to attack “legitimate targets,” like perhaps rogue states, and it is another to steal credit card information?
Who do people turn to when the crime is transnational?
Should there be some sort of “police,” and some sort of “International Cryber Court,” that determines what should and shouldn’t be? Governments shouldn’t be allowed to simply take down websites without due process. People who steal credit card information should have some penalty, correct?
Civility, morality aren’t thrown out when we go online. Our manners aren’t thrown out of the door just because we go online. Hate crime, and hate speech is best opposed by freedom of speech, and TechDirt is right: clamping down on that just leads to more ignorance.
What exactly is our right or rights on cyber space?
The German solution seem to be a right middle ground. We don’t want governments filtering what we can, and should see. And yet governments do it all the time.
It would seem that there should be a global consensus on what Internet rights ought to be. From this “Bill of Rights,” everyone has a clear set of “rules,” to determine what is permissible and not permissible. Do we need a court of law on the Internet to arbitrate disputes? Do we need an international cyber police to investigate allegations.
That awfully sounds like regulation. It awfully sounds like government. Then again, doesn’t the Internet consider censorship, and hate as damage and routes around it? How do we deal with trolls? Is Sarkozy and his ilk, trolls?
The Internet is an instrument of destruction. It is the ultimate disruptive technology that has flipped industries, paradigm, law and human civilization right side up. The Internet has done so without any sort of governance in the traditional sense. Do we need a Request for Comments?
Image credit: “Extended Mind,” by XKCD, some rights reserved.