Internet freedom . . . free to choose? The Economist

On October 6th, 2012, The Economist posted an article considering how internet companies manage free speech issues in a cyberspace still heavily influenced by nation-states.  If you remember about a week back, we posted an article about how a Brazilian court issued an arrest warrant for Google’s top exec for Brazil.  The reason? Google refused to take down a YouTube video that breached Brazilian law.  The ultimate point was that even though an internet company based in the U.S. may defend free speech, when that company operates in a nation-states that disagrees, the nation-state can reach out and affect the company’s conduct.  With regards to Goldsmith & Wu’s Who Controls the Internet: Illusions of a Borderless World, this is an example of how the Internet has not necessarily “liberate[d] us forever from government, borders, and even our physical selves.”

The Economist article picked up on that theme and noted that even though Google refused to take down the Brazilian video, it did block users in eight countries from watching The Innocence of Muslims.  Moreover, “Google revealed that 45 countries had asked it to block content in the last six months of 2011, up from only four in 2002.”

Another interesting twist on the issue is user policies for individual web sites.  Most of these user policies ban obscenity, trolling, hate speech, etc, and don’t really inhibit the discussion.  However, the article noted that “overzealous moderation can have ‘absurd and censorious’ results.”  One solution is to have site users resolve the issues among themselves in a committee structure.

Whatever the case, the internet is not as free as we think.  “[I]nternet firms will never please everyone. But good laws [would] at least point them in the right direction.”

Check out the rest of The Economist article here.

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Professor William Snyder

Professor William C. Snyderis a member of the faculty of the Institute for National Security and Counter-terrorism at Syracuse University after fifteen years with the United States Department of Justice.

Ryan D. White

Ryan D. WhiteRyan is currently a third year law student at Syracuse University College of Law, and is also pursuing a Master of Public Administration degree from Syracuse’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Ryan spent time with Homeland Security Investigations while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and spent his first summer of law school as clerk for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Western District of New York. He is a member of Syracuse Law Review, the Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis, and participates in the Veteran’s Legal Clinic.Full biography

Christopher w. FolkChristopher W. Folk

is a 2017 graduate of SU College of Law. A non-traditional student, Christopher returned to academia after spending nearly twenty years in the high tech industry. Christopher served in the Marine Corps, graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. In Applied Economics and Business Management, attended Northeastern University’s High-Tech MBA Program and received a M.S. In Computer Information Systems. Christopher previously worked in Software Engineering. Christopher is currently serving his second term as Town Justice for the Town of Waterloo. Christopher externed with a Cybersecurity firm in the Washington, D.C. area between his first and second year at SU College of Law. Full biography

Anna Maria Castillo

is 2016 graduate of Syracuse College of Law. She also holds a Master of Arts in International Relations from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. She has interned at a London-based think-tank that specializes in transnational terrorism and global security and at the legal department of a defense contractor. She served as an executive editor in the Syracuse Law Review. Full biography

Jennifer A. CamilloJennifer A. Camillo

is a 2015 graduate of Syracuse College of Law and is a prosecutor. She has served as a law clerk in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the Cayuga County District Attorney’s Office and as an extern in the Oneida County District Attorney’s Office. She was a member of the Syracuse National Trial Team and was awarded the Tiffany Cup by the New York Bar Association for her trial advocacy achievements.

Tara J. PistoreseTara J. Pistorese

holds Juris Doctor and Masters of Public Administration degrees from Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and its College of Law. She wrote for this blog when a student. She is now a member of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Corps.

Benjamin Zaiser

is both a scholar and a Federal Agent of the Federal Criminal Police Office of Germany. (Opinions expressed here are his own and not any part of official duty.) Full biography

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