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The coffee shops in Athens must be really crowded

October 30, 2006

I love headlines like this: “World discusses Internet future”.  No, it isn’t “the world” meeting in Athens to discuss the future of the Internet, but the “Internet Governance Forum” which

“is not a decision-making body but instead is designed to give stakeholders in the internet a chance to form consensus around key areas.”

Oh, goodie.  We’re forming consensus.  The world, I mean.  Forum chair Nitin Desai explains:

“Issues around spam, cybersecurity, openness, what are the blocks to freedom of speech? – they speak to all internet users directly.”

“Everybody has an experience of spam, sadly a lot of people have an experience of phishing attacks. People have got experience of viruses. They might be aware that internationally there are different approaches to freedom of speech – not just the obvious examples of regimes cracking down on content.  “Within Europe there are issues around dealing with content that is perhaps not illegal but distasteful to some countries and not to others.

“These are issues that matter.”

Well, we wouldn’t want any content that would be distasteful to any countries that are part of the world.  That wouldn’t be in the spirit of the consensus. 

Distasteful, offensive speech doesn’t worry me much – in aggregate it fuels social progress as cultures get a bright light shined on their dark corners (see previous post).  The speech that worries me is the smooth, well-intentioned code-words of those who want to restrict what you can say.  And, I guarantee that’ll be part of the inevitable document this ‘non-decision-making’ governance body will produce. 

I’m guessing that “the US has too much control of the Internet” will pop up as an “issue that matters”, too.  Call me cynical…

Categories: Politics
  1. October 30, 2006 at 12:10 | #1

    beware of anyone who wants to regulate a damn thing “for the common good” because the only people it will be good for is the ones who are doing the regulating

  2. October 30, 2006 at 13:55 | #2

    I don’t trust people who are doing something for my own good. It rarely is.

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