Do you want governments to regulate the Internet?

The Internet makes us smarter!
My apparent IQ drops the longer I am away from Google, Wolfram Alpha. It goes up when away from Facebook.

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.”

Germany disagrees.

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.

Cocoy Dayao

Cocoy is the Chief Technology Officer of Lab Rats Technica, a Digital Consulting company that specialises in DevOps, iOS, and Web Apps, E-Commerce sites, Cybersecurity and Social Media consulting. He is a technology enthusiast, political junkie and social observer who enjoys a good cup of coffee, comic books, and tweets as @cocoy on twitter.

Cocoy is also the Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief of the ProPinoy Project.

Cocoy considers himself to be Liberal.

  • KG

    Can’t find a pdf of the new lower house bill. hb3376
    but here is the senate’s latest version which is a consolidation of many bills:
    sb 2796…..

    http://www.senate.gov.ph/lisdata/111349486!.pdf

    The definition of the cybersex remains the same.(adopted sb 52)
    I guess it does not address your concern:
    “Angara’s senate bill 52 is remarkably silent on those points when women are coerced, threatened, intimidated, induced, or forced in a cybersex operation or even harassed via digital devices or messages.”

  • GabbyD

    heard that the new bourne movie will be partly shot in manila.

    i wonder how the twitter pinoy elites how react on how manila will be portrayed?

    will they slam the movie on this basis?

  • GabbyD

    speaking of internet and free speech…

    i have 2 hand it to thailand, for not making a big deal of the hangover.

    if this had been the philippines, the twitter pinoy elites would have been screaming murder, ala jan-jan, ala that golfer that made up stuff…

  • The Gigs case is an example of the law being outdated as far as what “media” is composed of, and how far it can be regulated. That kind of lawsuit, and I would dare say even the court injunction, would never get off the ground here or in the US, as we share common jurisprudence on fair comment on persons of public stature (NY Times v. Sullivan ; Borjal v. CA ).

    We have a lot of laws that cover most of the objectionable material found on the Net. It’s a matter of implementation, mostly. On an international scale, that’s another animal entirely. Governments aren’t fond of being told what to do, even if it’s by a body created specifically to address these issues.

    • Cocoy

      precisely.

    • UP nn grad

      When you talk about the law, you have to mention which laws of which country. Pilipinas laws are what have been passed by Pilipinas lawmarkers; USA laws are what have been passed by USA lawmakres, and sometimes / many times what is good for the goose are not even encoded for Pilipino ducks.

      I bet you that if ManuelB were to obtain a picture of a— Malacanang dude– CBCP-bishop checking into a Baguio motel with a female of an understanding persuasion, well, first ManuelB won’t dare publish it. But this — a blogger (or a Pinoy reporter) will get jailed for daring to push freedom of information heroics blah-blah-blah by disseminating the picture.

  • Cyber laws only get enforced when backed up from the media, otherwise, that law just sits there.

    • UP nn grad

      Pilipinas lawmakers will instinctively author and support bills that give more and more protection to them. Libel laws — classic example.

      If Pinoys-in-Pinas want Pilipinas lawmakers to author and support bills that give more protection to the general population, then the action is straightforward — push PresiNoynoy, Loren Legarda, Joker Arroyo, your favorite senator and your elected congressman.

      And then there is Pilipinas Constitution. Pilipinas Supreme Court has just ruled that the government can not go assuming the guilt of an individual and then going full-bore finding evidence against the individual. Malacanang can not go against a witch hunt against cocoy… can not go against a witch hunt against Kris Aquino… can not go against a witch hunt against Fr. Bernas.

      Without a doubt, this is new. Only recently, affirmation that Pilipinas government can not go on a witch hunt against a single individual. One of Presi-Noynoy’s unintended gift to Pilipinas governance.

      • UP nn grad

        Presi-Noynoy may not know it, but the new EO-1 quashed strengthens Malacanang. Presi-Noynoy may do an EO-26 and, for the greater good as he as president sees it, he can sell more La Union and Tarlac land to Mainland China.

        Bongbong-President 2016 (or whoever gets elected) can not assume that Presi-Noynoy had illegally SOLD OUT (for personal gain or the clan’s gain). Presi-Noynoy can act presidential knowing that the next president can not do an EO-1 Truth Commission witch hunt against him.

        • Cocoy

          interesting perspective there.

          • UP nn grad

            this is why I hope that deputy ombudsman who presi-Noynoy had fired (and who the kissy-assy candidate-for-Ombudsman had fired subsequently — kissy-assy)… I hope the case reaches the supreme court. My opinion is that “independence of Ombudsman Office” means the Ombudsman and key personnel are off-limits to intimidation by Malacanang.

  • Instead of regulation, I think what we need is a body that will address crimes committed using the internet. Cyberlaws, if you may call it.

    • Cocoy

      Yes, I agree with you that we need some cyberlaw. A lot of my women friends are harassed via SMS or online. And in that regard i think we need good laws. Problem I see is that our legislators in the Philippines and from what i’ve been reading, elsewhere as well, don’t seem to understand what We need.