Friday, August 14, 2009

Should the Internet be regulated?

I was quite surprised, actually, to see this question answered with a hesitant yes in the Romanian blog Intelectual. Bloggers, especially young such, tend to safeguard the Internet as a non-regulated place vithout surveillance.


Intelectual points out what everybody already knows - that the internet is not only the place for intelectual discussions. It is also the place where child pornography is spread, political opponents are harrassed, and all the evils of the modern world are efficiently broadcasted . His text also makes a point that blogs in Romania often serve poitical interests, politicians pay bloggers to write things about opponents that they could never say themselves on TV


For this reason, legislators all over the world are trying to find ways to control the content of the internet. The web guru Tim O'Reilly have posted a draft code of conduct for bloggers (see below) as a way to regulate the discussion without state intervention, but Intelectual doesn't seem to think that this is enough. "Whether we want it or not, a "lex digitalis" is underway, similar to the "lex mercatoria" that regulates the market of goods.(my translation)" Intelectual sees the ultimate responsibility in ICANN (International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers)- the organisation that gives out top level adresses, etc.


Not everyone is happy about a regulated internet, though. Intelectual mentions the Swedish Pirate Party that reached the Euoropean Parliament on vowing to defend the indivdual against surveillance, and similar movements in all west European countries.


Given my superficial knowledge about Balkan blogging, I do not believe that this is an issue that is restricted to western Europe. The Freedom Not Fear day will be celebrated also in Sofia, like last year, and internet privacy has been a major theme on Bulgaria e nasha in the discussion about surveillance.


I also think that Intelectual underestimates the risks of allowing the internet to be regulated. States like China, Iran and Moldova have all been more or less succesful in curbing the free exchange of ideas, without in anyway diminishing the criminal/immoral content on the internet


I am much more attracted to O'Rielly's idea of a code of conduct for internet use, than legislation. Nonetheless - Intelectual was an interesing read... because it was quite different from the "mainstream" bloggosphere writing.


Dear readers... what are your opinions on this issue? Do you think that a code of conduct could actually work, or should there be no codes of conduct?



O'Rielly's Code of conduct:(shortened)
1. We take responsibility for our own words and for the comments we allow on our blog.

We are committed to the "Civility Enforced" standard: we will not post unacceptable content, and we'll delete comments that contain it.

We define unacceptable content as anything included or linked to that:
- is being used to abuse, harass, stalk, or threaten others
- is libelous, knowingly false, ad-hominem, or misrepresents another person,
- infringes upon a copyright or trademark
- violates an obligation of confidentiality
- violates the privacy of others

We define and determine what is "unacceptable content" on a case-by-case basis, and our definitions are not limited to this list. If we delete a comment or link, we will say so and explain why. [We reserve the right to change these standards at any time with no notice.]

2. We won't say anything online that we wouldn't say in person.
3. We connect privately before we respond publicly.
4. When we believe someone is unfairly attacking another, we take action.
5. We do not allow anonymous comments.
6. We ignore the trolls.



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