The Internet routes around outages — and censorship, too

Have you seen this yet? "Grokster ruling begins the good fight" If you haven't, it's worth your time to read -- it's a terrible shibboleth for a U.S. "national firewall."

Coursey is promoting the idea that all U.S. Internet access should pass through a firewall that will block file-sharing and gambling sites. Since most of these sites have moved off-shore, Coursey claims that this isn't censorship, but it's the only way to ensure that "when the Internet is being used on American soil, it should comply with American law." Later in the article he chides the Chinese government "for filtering the Internet as delivered to residents of the communist dictatorship." He contrasts this with file-sharing and gambling and says that "since [these] are not accepted as universal human rights," it's OK to "stop illegal content from reaching American citizens."

Does Coursey lack a sense of irony? It seems so. In one swell foop he maintains that America should be allowed to filter what America has declared illegal -- file-sharing and gambling -- while denying that China should be allowed to filter what China has declared illegal -- political and religious content that's counter to and threatens the government.

Am I the only one who sees a problem with this? Now of course China's actions completely violate all sense of human rights, but adopting their solution -- censorship -- will be no better in this country. If we establish a precedent of censoring illegal content, what's to stop various interest groups from galvanizing politicians to declare illegal anything that the groups don't like? Where will it end?

(Post script: I'm writing this from Taiwan! Also, last week in China, their "national firewall" was pretty useless...)

Comments (3)
  1. n00dles says:

    oooohhhhhhhhhh boy… I read things like this, and am thankful I live in a place far, far away from both China and America… I can only hope that the tech giants (hi Bill G) rally against such a ridiculous and obviously contradictory proposal.

  2. thephantom says:

    I think that we all recognise the problem that Dilbert here hasn’t -> he needs to consider the mechanism (file-sharing / p2p/ bit torrent) isn’t bad in itself and is an efficient way for distributing valid content. His real concerns seem to be about the content. Perhaps he needs to actually put some thought into addressing the correct issue rather then advocating a drastic and probably in-effectual measure?

  3. Hi Steve, I gotta agree with you but I think China’s human rights violations are on par with the USA’s if this Great-Firewall idea goes ahead! At heart the Internet is a communication network and the day communications are censored is a sad one indeed. That chinese firewall is a funny thing, sometimes I notice javascript in funny places!

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