You've Got — Walled Garden

by Ruud Hein February 26th, 2008 

News.com.au reported that for a few days last week Yahoo7 Australia did not return any direct links to bittorrent tracker The Pirate Bay.

It's an incident like that that rekindles my worries.

You see, when it comes to policing, shifting responsibilities has been found a very effective tool.

When in the 1980's pirate television flooded Europe's cable networks, authorities had a difficult time stamping it out. Until someone came with the bright idea to make the cable network responsible. They would be fined for every illegal movie broadcast over through their network. They would be responsible for coming up with means to secure and seal off their network.

The UK considers saddling ISP's with the responsibility to police the 'net against illegal downloaders while Danmark tells an ISP it is responsible for blocking access to The Pirate Bay.

The problem, nay, the danger with this type of reasoning is that it ties in so nicely with another form of policing the web: link prohibition.

In 2000 a consortium of studio's goes after the dissemination of DeCSS: code to break the encryption of DVD content.

The web site 2600 removes the code and instead links to sites that do have the code available.

"2600 argued that the links were protected free speech under the First Amendment. The court replied that posting the deCSS on the web site made it "instantly available at the click of a mouse." Removing the deCSS code but posting the links was no different, in the words of the court's opinion: "with a hyperlink on a web page, the linked web site is just one click away.""
West Virginia University

The court prohibited linking to the material.

Who is policing the web?

Who is in a position to effectively make a web site, an opinion, a statement, as good as non-existent?

If we, the people, decide to make those sites, those companies, responsible, is there the danger that in order to avoid expensive lawsuits, those sites would block or remove access to content that hasn't yet been completely declared illegal?

Ruud Hein

My paid passion at Search Engine People sees me applying my passions and knowledge to a wide array of problems, ones I usually experience as challenges. People who know me know I love coffee.

Ruud Hein

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