Friday, January 27, 2006

Regulate The Net?

A gentleman in my online course noted that, “[he] would suggest that the internet be more regulated.”

Then in that case, so should libraries, video stores, book stores and quickie marts. They, too all contain 'pornography', or material that some people find morally offensive. For instance, assume I am an atheist. I find everyone else’s belief in a god to be disgusting and repulsive. To that end, I would find the bible, the quran and the torah to be a pornographic books. If I were in charge of the Ministry of Information, I would have them banned, and people pushing that smut prosecuted.

An extreme example, yes. But who makes those decisions? "Community Standards"? The Internet is global. Do you want a dictator in sub-Saharan Africa making all decisions about what you and your children must read, see and learn? Would you want the health information your children learn chosen by a community that believes female genital mutilation is a good idea? Or, perhaps, to bring it closer to home, you would like the San Francisco GLBT community to decide what the 'standards' are. (Go google that. But not at work).

All of these groups are on the Internet. They all have different points of view. To them, what you do every day may be repugnant and offensive. That steak you're going to cook on the grill will nauseate a vegan or offend a Hindu. Using that charcoal grill will inflame (no pun intended) the environmentalists. So, if you wrote an e-mail and posted to a webpage about grilling a steak for dinner, you would be subject to their restrictions.

The problem you describe is not technical or moral in nature, but rather a management problem. Manage your family to have values and respect. Educate your children that there are nasty ugly things on the Internet, and looking for them is wrong. Be open and allow them to ask questions about the things they find. Manage your employees so they are discouraged from watching porn on company time. Filters, at the micro-level (Net Nanny) or the macro-level (Ministry of Information) are not effective. The children (or employees) will find their way around. If you raise them right, they won't be scarred by the sight of some "T&A". If you manage your employees correctly, they will do their job and not surf for pr0n.


Will England said...

I wrote this rant back sometime before 2002 - funny how the same things keep coming up...

Computers were not meant to be networked. They are for
doing desktop calculations.

Granted, certain military and academic institutions may have the need to
share large amounts of data that could not be easily shipped via US Mail,
and they may still be connected over a govermnet approved
network. However, the general public has not proved worthy of the ability
to network computers.

Look at what 5 years of public Internet has gotten
us: Melissa. ILOVEYOU. Michelangelo. Pr0n. Napster. BackOrifice. Internet
love affairs. Stalking. AOL. Columbine. Addiction. Chat-rooms.

I see no good reason to continue to allow the plebeian populace access to
this network. Therefore, as of September 30, 2000, the Internet will be
turned off. Ownership of all fiber, transmitters, cable and routing
equipment will be assigned to the Defense Department. Universities and
research institutions needing network access will apply to the Pentagon
for time-shared access on the military network.

In addition, telecommunication carriers will apply a filter to the voice
channels that will prevent analog modems from connecting over voice grade
networks. High-speed in-home delivery such as DSL or cable modems will be
allowed to only connect to read-only television distribution points under
the control of the data-provider.

All data providers will be registered
with the FCC and all content and programming will be reviewed quarterly
to ensure appropriate family and American values are being
represented. This shall include traditional print and television media as
well. These traditional data outlets could be compromised by
anti-capitalist forces and used as distribution of copyrighted or
subversive un-American work.

All data receivers, such as televisions, cable modems, DSL routers,
etc. will be registered with the FCC. No user-initiated upstream traffic
will be tolerated. However, the data-source providers may upload limited
demographic information about the data-browsing habits of their
customers. This data will be available to the FCC and other government
agencies under the Emergency Powers act of 1999. This data will be kept
confidential in and among the various federal agencies who require access
to the data.

Also, all private radio transmitters and receivers will be licensed and
inspected by the government. All HF receivers will have a blocking coil
installed to prevent their use as a high-speed data receiver. New digital
data RF relievers will have, prior to deployment to civilian markets,
reporting capabilities built in. This will allow for ease of accounting
tamper proofing of the digital data RF receivers. All HF data
transmission companies shall be under regulation by the FCC, and shall
report back all data gathered from the customer receivers.

Finally, taxes no less than $1,000 and no more than $5,000 per
data-receiver will be implemented to cover the costs of re-educating and
providing for the safety of American's data.

Will England said...

Some other fine young unlearned person posted that "the internet puts the innocents in danger and it should be more regulated". SO, I, having had a nice bourbon and water and not really giving a damn about my grade, popped off the following flame:


The concept of the Internet - free communication of ideas - cannot and will not be regulated. People are curious and desire to share ideas. If censorship is put in place, the flow of ideas will route around the censorship. Peer to peer networks, encrypted traffic, alternate networks - even oldschool Fidonet and Sneakernet - or just plain old newsletters, zines and flyers will always spread subversive, damaging information.

Look at the level of effort China spends to prevent their citizens from gaining information that would be "damaging" or "dangerous" to them. And what took down the Chinese government in 1997 during Tianamen Square? The fax machine. 1977-class technology over an analog phone line.

"Danger" is such a relative idea, and that you suggest that anyone, at all, should be given the power to decide what is "dangerous" to me, or you, or anyone is truly frightning. That way is not free, it is not open, and it is not conducive to a free, open, democratic society we enjoy today. Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, and Mao all agreed with you - those ideas are dangerous to the poor proletariat, and we need to protect those poor proles from dangerous ideas, like freedom, democracy and liberty.

Will England said...

Found the date - that first rant with the horrid formatting came from June, 1999.

Will England said...

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." ~ C.S. Lewis