Why doing dumb laws is a bad idea
The late debate around the Finnish Copyright law has resulted in a dysfunctional law. Which is sort of fine, as long as nobody takes undue advantage of it.
Unfortunately, most laws will be taken advantage of. Here are a couple of chilling examples:
Walter Wolfgang, an 82-year-old political veteran, was forcefully removed from the UK Labour party conference for calling a speaker, Jack Straw, a liar. (Opinions on whether Jack Straw is or is not a liar are irrelevant here.) He was later denied access to the conference on basis of anti-terror laws. Keep in mind that as recently as the 1980s, Labour Party conferences were heated affairs compared with today's media shows.
So, speaking against the government is terrorism? The letter of the law certainly allows this - but I doubt it's in the spirit of the law.
Read more from Bruce Schneier.
Also, the new US legislation that allows FBI to attack "obscene" websites, seems to be working "well". Many a porn site dealing with more niche issues has been shut down - and the government gets to decide what exactly is offending and what is not. Considering that certain politicians (who were mostly also behind the new Copywrong Law) are also driving similar legislation to Finland, we can expect similar "community values" to be controlling the Internet and free speech over here in the future, too.
Don't get me wrong: I am sure that this site was pretty awful. It might even have been illegal (breaking privacy legislation, etc). It may have been the right decision to shut it down. But what I don't like is some sheriff saying that the "content shocks the community" - whatever that is, and the fact that people are likely take this at a face value. I mean - if the police says it is awful, then it must've been awful, yes? (Hint: the right answer is not "yes".)
You can follow this to the logical conclusion on your own. There is certainly enough historical precedence...
He made an offer on the Web site that if they posted pictures proving they were military serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, he would give them free access to the paid sections of the Web site.
For about six or seven months, people claiming to be members of the military have been sending in pictures of life overseas, ranging from picturesque scenery to hideous pictures of people burned black and unrecognizable, or with body parts mangled or blown apart.
According to Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, the area that includes pornographic pictures was equally distasteful. "Normal people don't have the ability to imagine how perverse and horrific these images were," he said. "It certainly is content that shocks the community."
(Via Boing Boing.)
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