Offensive content: no need to filter? The (US) FCC chairman’s position

He does not believe in filtering internet content because people choose what to look at rather than are bombarded with what they do not want to look at (unlike TV packages it seems).
Technically this is true. In addition, we would add that filtering the internet is nearly a lost battle unless we build firewalls like China’s. And we certainly do not want to go down that route.

Kevin Martin Opposes Regulating Internet Content?” (TechDirt, 13 January 2009)

So where does it leave us? First, there is no doubt that offensive content exists. Its definition may vary from country to country, but most do recognise that offensiveness has legal consequences. If we do not question that basis, the question is how do we imagine the legal consequences to be? Traditionally, faced with offensiveness, states have forbidden or regulated by rating. Problem with the internet is that prohibition is nearly a lost cause, and rating is difficult. Those who worked on hate crimes are worried about enclosure, rather than about distribution, i.e. enclosure of those filled with hatred within their own world; and thus they propose as a way forward dialogue.
When it comes to chatrooms, newsgroups and the like, dialogue or at least responses from non haters are easy.
When it comes to websites and distribution of materials, it’s more difficult to promote dialogue because per se the technology used is not based on dialogue. On the other hand, filtering etc… is problematic and questionable. Should we then use the ISPs to put a warning, like some of the watchdogs have, instead of being cops like for copyrights issues?
UK Government To Force ISPs To Become Copyright Cops” (TechDirt, 19 January 2009)

About Audrey Guinchard

Senior Lecturer @ University of Essex (UK)
This entry was posted in censorship, Countries - China, Filtering. Bookmark the permalink.

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