Carlos Fenollosa — Blog

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Bile is not freedom of speech, but neither is censorship

May 16, 2014 — Carlos Fenollosa

Twitter—and most sites which support user comments—are filled with filth. Unfortunately, that's an indisputable rule of the internet. Some people are just unaware of the power of their words, and write comments that expose the worst of human nature, like the guy who cheered the murder of a Spanish politician

Despicable as that comment is, however, I think that police resources would be better used if going after actual criminals or corrupt politicians instead of angry teenagers. On the other hand, people should start learning that throwing bile on internet comments may be freedom of speech but also an offence of verbal threatening. Let's just start behaving like intelligent people and try neither to threaten others nor indict dumb twitter users.

My point here is that the internet was born free, and it is now turning into a "regular" business: money will pay quality of service, online media will be regulated as if hyperlinks and news excerpts were copyright infringement, and now all internet comments will be treated as if they were uttered on the real world; at the main street or on a news outlet.

That is not necessarily bad, per se. However, the people and lobbies regulating the net are the same people who think cookies are a menace to user privacy and have strong political and economical interests on putting strong leashes to users. The internet has been bypassing their establishment for about 20 years and now it's time to put an end to that.

Should the internet be different from the rest of society? It's not a rhetorical question. However, there is no easy answer. The net has created new idiosyncrasies and, if we change the rules of the game, more things need to change. However, politicians don't understand—or don't want to—this concept.

If they charge business for their QoS, then those business must be able to demand public internet providers where there are monopolies or oligopolies. If a blog can be sued for copyright infringement, so must be TVs that feed from youtube users. The list goes on.

The problem now is that it's too tempting for the establishment to regulate everything in their favor. And, given that they have the ability to do so, puts democracy to shame. That is, if there is one.

As incredible as it sounds, the tinfoil-hat people were actually right. What's more indignant, teenagers may pay large fines for hate speech while governments steal their naked pictures from their webcams and companies take our tax money to turn it against our interests.

Regrettably, for those who didn't know it, that is how the world has always worked. The internet was a small oasis that lasted a few years and gave us a taste of real freedom, for the good and the bad—Silk Road, CP, etc.

What now? I think we should support organizations that defend our rights, software that empowers us instead of relying on the bona fide of our providers, and helping develop a new internet, if that were the case.

In Spain, we have a saying "hecha la ley, hecha la trampa". It means that the cheaters will always be one step ahead of the rules. Applied to the internet, that will be a good thing for users and freedom.

Tags: law, web

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