Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Internet regulation for national content?


This man wants the EU to regulate the Internet.
I don’t mean child porn or bomb recipes, I mean regulating it for “cultural content” you know the same sort of rules that Labour and the Greens long argued about for TV, to ensure minimum levels of national content? It seems that with the arrival of hundreds of TV channels, the European Commission finds it harder to justify special rules for broadcast TV -so now it wants rules for all audiovisual media to be consistent.
Under the aegis of harmonisation, and consistency across media, the EC, instead of simply calling for the abolition of such rules, wants to extend them - because, after all, bureaucrats produce nothing.

Martin Selmayr, a European Commission bureaurat said that rules on broadcast TV may apply to the Internet, "This might involve requirements in terms of the catalogue they offer," says the quote from Macworld. A further report says that it may cover material that may “incite racial hatred” or seriously impare the “physical, mental and moral development of minors”. An excuse for more censorship – after all, what is the moral development of minors? What is a minor in the EU, when the age for sexual consent varies between 13 and 17? European bureaurats aren't keen on free speech (although Europeans aren't keen on much censorship, as any visit to an Amsterdam sex shop will demonstrate!).

One thing is for sure, that in cultural terms, the Internet has it all – and the users choose what they want to see. You can read about objectivism, literature, rugby, felching or the rambling of Chairman Mao.
The only place for the law online is to cover actual crimes, such as when intellectual property is stolen, when computers are used to initial force through hacking, and when recordings of victims suffering crimes are produced and distributed (images of child pornography).

It is worth noting that the same bureaurat also advocated taking control of the internet from ICANN to a new UN type intergovernmental bureaucracy – a less efficient more political one. It isn't broke, so don't fix it - if the Internet had been left to bureaucrats it would never have grown and developed, they would have been far too concerned with trying to make sure it didn't do all sorts of things they want to control.

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