John Horvath on Sat, 28 Sep 96 10:44 METDST

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nettime: re censorship and net principles)

I hope you don't mind some constructive criticism. Here it goes:

First, about British cancelbot:

>There is a great risk when countries start censoring the
>wrong way, blunt cancelling or blocking. The counter reaction is
>as strong as the censoring energy. We'll get to know a new concept,
>information warfare. Netizens will start attacking organisations that
>attack the freedoms of expression in an international and negative way.
>If England starts cancelling internatiobal messages on Usenet, expect
>there to be a huge counter-energy from the netizens. These are basic
>principles and can be predicted.

The problem with this situation, is that it plays into the hands of
repressive regimes. By counter reaction, or information warfare, I
assume you mean that information from the repressive side (in this case,
England) would in turn be cancelled or blocked, akin th an information
embargo. Am I right? If so, this is precisely what governments want, for
restricted or lack of information is what secures their power base. The
fear of the internet is that information can flow freely beyond their
immediate control. Information warfare, therefore, only facilitates a
governments wish to restrict the free flow of information, thereby
harming the end user. On the other hand, if my assumption of information
warfare is incorrect, then what do you mean by information warfare?

A point about hotlines:

> The hotline does not go out and find this stuff itselfe, but relies on
> netizens that report a crime. The hotline works only with the local
> law.

A lot of people from former communist countries might shiver at this,
for this is basically "informing". Under the previous regimes, many
people were thrown into jail because they muttered something in their
sleep or in front of a stranger.

While the hotline concept is commendable, I can see a certain flaw. It
can be used by governments or vested interests to put someone away when
no crime has been committed. Because you don't find the stuff yourself,
you can't validate a report. Take this scenario: the police want to put
away Radical Person A but they don't have any means to legally do so.
One of their men call up the hotline, report kiddyporn at Radical Person
A's web site (which in reality doesn't exist), then the police go in and
arrest him, making sure to plant the evidence in the process.

This is not to say the hotline concept is a bad idea or should be
scrapped. However, in dealing with child pornography, other means need
to be employed. The problem with child pornographers is that they change
with the times, and they can soon find ways to circumvent hotlines.
Moreover, if the hotline concept extends beyond child pornography to
other areas, such as abortion or even the case of Radikal in Germany,
then you are making way for the CDA to establish itself as a legitamite
means of net regulation.

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