07 July 2008

Can Opened, Worms Everywhere

I've been a journalist for more than 30 years. Two things I have mastered in all those years are the parameters of copyright law and rights of free speech. With that, I have to admit I was totally surprised when I read an Associated Press article about how those two things do not necessarily exist on the internet.

Wow! Sites can and do take down content without any regard to what we consider regular free speech rights? They can and do edit otherwise copyright protected material without any notice?

I have long felt that the internet was one of the greatest inventions in the history of mankind. It has many values, but the most important is that it makes information available to everyone. EVERYONE.

After years of having a charter membership to various city libraries and being on first-name basis with librarians in them, I now go first to the internet. After years of eye strain scanning decades worth of newspapers on microfilm, I now go to the internet. After decades of getting up to find a word in the dictionary, I now go to the internet.

Thanks to the internet, there is no barrier to knowledge like that created by church leaders who encouraged their members to NOT learn how to read (that way they could not do any research on their own and question what the religious leaders said), or that created by rich and powerful rulers who wanted to control printing presses (same reason), there is no (outright) censorship of contrary thought. In fact, contrary thought seems to have flourished online for everyone to read and embrace or discard as they see fit. THIS is what real democracy is all about: information for the masses.

But now, clandestine censorship by the NEW information controllers: internet service providers.

Just when I thought we had come so far, it appears we have only come full circle.

You can read the article here.

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