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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Do not expect us to cooperate

The UK Culture Gauleiter, Andy Burnham, gives an interview in the Telegraph today in which he says:

If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now. It’s true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

Actually the people who ‘created’ the internet did it so that parts of the state could stay in touch after a nuclear attack… the idea the net does not need the government was an emergent realisation that came later. And of course there is nothing a government hates more that being thought irrelevent, which is what this is really about. Internet censorship is never ever about ‘protecting’ people, it is about extending and maintaining state power. That is the whole reason why advocates of censorship pretend child pornography is vastly more prevalent than it actually is. And you may be sure kiddie porn will be wheeled out yet again in this latest attempt to expand the power of the state.

There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.

Which of course is indeed a naked, direct and unambiguous attack on free speech.

He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama’s incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites. The Cabinet minister describes the internet as “quite a dangerous place” and says he wants internet-service providers (ISPs) to offer parents “child-safe” web services.

Yes, no doubt Andy Burnham dreams of marching forward with The One across the internet in a sort of virtual Operation Barbarosa, presumably with UKGov in the roll of the Loyal Ally. But then unlike Barbarosa, this attack comes as no surprise to the ‘enemy’ (i.e. folks like us) and there is that pesky ‘First Amendment’ on the other side of the Atlantic sitting like 20,000 T-34 tanks waiting at Kursk. There is a reason Samizdata is hosted in the USA and not on this side of the puddle.

This crass power grab needs to be opposed on every level and not just attacked on the sheer technical difficulty of making it happen but also assaulted morally and politically.

But I agree when he says “If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now.” Yes we do need to revisit that and remind everyone that if the history of the previous century teaches us anything, it is that governments cannot be trusted. Free speech cannot be left to the sufferance of political systems and venal politicians like Andrew Burnham. We need to smite any attempt to encroach on the internet at every level and distribute technical ‘solutions’ to every initiative the state comes up as widely as possible regardless of what laws they pass.

We simply will not cooperate.

64 comments to Do not expect us to cooperate

  • The internet started out as something called ARPAnet, and WAS a government entity. It escaped, and good on it, but inaccessability to government was never a design spec.

  • Russ Goble

    Got a link?

  • Mart

    I’ve got the paper itself in front of me – Mr Burnham apparently points to the success of the 9pm watershed in protecting children, perhaps as some vague proof something could work.
    Not quite sure what success he’s talking about, though.

  • New Labour, New Britain

    The Gvt is about to butt fuck the internet here in Oz Real Soon Now as well, implementing a Great Firewall of Australia.

    Still, I will keep running my site from a server in my living room for as long as I can.

  • permanentexpat

    We simply will not cooperate.

    Wishful thinking, Perry.
    “We” have cooperated in every step to our own enslavement & downfall as a nation since the end of WW2.
    Such is the dependance of the community on the benevolent & omniscient teat that acceptance of any edict can be taken as read.
    We have developed a Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the governmental bureaucracy which only a radical sea-change in thinking will destroy…and, in a nation as apathetic as ours now is, wishful thinking really is an understatement.

  • Alice

    “We have developed a Stockholm Syndrome relationship with the governmental bureaucracy which only a radical sea-change in thinking will destroy…”

    No — what will destroy government bureaucracy is the same “internal contradictions”, so to speak, that have laid low every prior civilization. Eventually, government fails.

    In the present case, western governments are rapidly running out of the ability to write cheques (Brit-spell). And they have so hobbled themselves with bureaucracy and political-correctness that they are unable to do anything about it.

    The failure process may be painful, and the aftermath may be a bitch — but western democratic government is now a dead man walking. Happy New Year!

  • lukas

    permanentexpat, “we” can kiss my white ass. I will not cooperate, and that is all it takes.

  • Wishful thinking, Perry. “We” have cooperated in every step to our own enslavement & downfall as a nation since the end of WW2

    I was speaking for Samizdata, not these Septic Isles in general. That said I will of course do my damnedest to help other also refuse to comply with any of the state’s edicts that limit free speech.

  • Mr Burnham apparently points to the success of the 9pm watershed in protecting children, perhaps as some vague proof something could work.

    Well – if children were able to hear rude words, the world would end. The world hasn’t ended, so the 9pm watershed policy has obviously been a success!

  • Ian B

    Alice, I fear that it will only fail when all is gone, just as the Third Reich only ended when it had been destroyed, when there was no reich left.

    The internal contradictions idea is the same kind of deterministic prophecy as marxist belief that capitalism would eat itself. Well, we can all sit around waiting for the state to destroy itself, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I was you. It is parasitic. It will maintain itself by feeding on the host until the host is destroyed and then, yes, it will fall, but there will be nothing left to save. They’re not going to sit there in the corridors of power saying “well, looks like our big corporate state didn’t work, we’d better give up”. They will keep making it work, or trying to make it work, until the bitter end- and the suffering everyone else will be forced through is horrific to contemplate.

    People need to get rid of this myth that communism fell in 1989 and capitalism won, as if this is some kind of model on which the future will one. Our enemy are far cleverer than that. One communist society was ended, by its own elite. It could have carried on far longer than it did.

    I posted a long post just now over at Counting Cats, about their imminent destruction of the internet, and said how it’s like a High Street- once the out of town development destroys it, it’s very hard to get back. Social structures are like that. Something that evolved over hundreds of years, once destroyed, is generally gone forever. There may be some point when we, aged and bent, or our children, or grandchildren, stand in the ruins contemplating the passing of the Enemy, but they will be standing in the ruins of everything by then. All that we know will be gone.

    I’ve said many times that IMV, they have won. They’re not winning, it’s not a struggle, it’s already over. Some may raise their voices in complaint and say “we won’t LET them do this” but they have no means to stop whatever they are complaining of happening, and when the time comes, that thing will happen. We can no more stop them censoring the net and handing it into the hands of a small elite of their friends (business and the fabian governance cloud) than we had of stopping smoking bans or alcohol restrictions or the BBFC. We are observers and victims, not participants and certainly not anything approaching a meaningful opposing force. It would be wonderful to have some oppositional strategy- but I cannot think of one, and neither have I ever read of one by somebody else. That makes me sad.

  • guy herbert

    Surprising such impossible nonsense from Burnham. As he is one of the younger, brighter ministers I am assuming he knows it to be nonsense, but is arrogant enough – and possibly right – to believe that neither the general public nor SuperBrown can grasp that it is nonsense, and so thinks it is great way of improving his profile as an authoritary figure with both of them floating such a wheeze at a time that guarantees him lots of coverage.

    From that point of view, the reference to enlisting the Obama administration is perhaps a bit dangerous in the internal Labour party context: some of them may be sufficiently interested in US politics to be aware that it is different – that Obama has at no point suggested he wants to tear up the Bill of Rights, and that he would be unlikely to get away with trying even if he did want to.

  • Ian B

    In what way is it “impossible nonsense”, Guy?

  • That makes me sad.

    Then crawl off and leave the fighting to those with the fortitude for it.

  • Ian B

    And what form is this “fighting” going to take, Richard?

  • Whatever it takes. Political action, social persuasion, political violence, whatever. But fighting requires a refusal to accept defeat and a determination to ensure that what has been done will be undone.

    But if you’ve given up, I’ll save my pixels for those who havn’t and won’t

  • Ian B

    Political action, social persuasion, political violence, whatever.

    None of which seems to have had any success whatsoever so far, which is my point.

    I’m sure I must look like a useless defeatist to you. But if we look at the history of the past century, we see a steadily advancing steamroller which has not even been appreciably slowed by any attempt at resistance. That doesn’t suggest much in the way of hope.

  • I’m sure I must look like a useless defeatist to you

    Completely.

  • Alice

    “It would be wonderful to have some oppositional strategy- but I cannot think of one, and neither have I ever read of one by somebody else. That makes me sad.”

    Cheer up, IanB! You have to think of yourself as the Christian facing the lion in that old Roman amphitheater. Yes, the lion has won — even before it sinks its teeth into your neck. But its victory is only temporary, and you will turn out to have been the real winner! Your religion will far outlast the Roman Empire.

    If you prefer a judo metaphor, your aim is to use your opponent’s own strength and momentum against him. Get out his way, and let him stumble.

    You are right that the Neo-Stalinists who have taken over the western democracies will not go quietly into the night — but into the night they will inevitably go. Attempting to seize the reins of power from them is an impossible task — if you succeeded, it would probably only by becoming worse than them. Instead, stand back and let them fail. That is the true oppositional strategy.

    The vital role that you must play in the meantime is to preserve and pass on the knowledge of history and human-kind’s long struggle for liberty. When you or your descendants (more likely, you) are standing in the smoking wreckage that Leftism has left behind, people will need to have access to the knowledge of a better foundation on which to rebuild. Samizdata indeed!

  • amphiboly

    …preserve and pass on the knowledge of history and human-kind’s long struggle for liberty

    Hear, hear, Alice

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Somehow, I don’t think ‘cooperation’ is what they have in mind. Push is about to come to shove and unless you’re able – and willing – to shove back, you WILL comply. And no, yielding with bad grace doesn’t count as resistance.

    So, how do you resist? Physical force is right out, if I read the Anglosphere correctly; most are complacent, or fearful of the state, and those that aren’t are rightly afraid of physical resistance getting out of hand.

    Publishing ‘work-arounds’ just means that publishing ‘work-arounds’ will get censored, too.

    As far as I can see, that leaves distraction: find out each and every disreputable thing you can about the would-be censors and their political associates and expose them, regardless of whether or not ‘it’ relates to internet censorship. So far as your needs are concerned, a Minister who bounces checks, or snorts coke, or can’t keep his hands off small boys is a gift from God. Keep them so busy covering themselves they eventually conclude the game isn’t worth the candle.

    Will this work? Probably not for long. But sufficient unto the day….

  • Robert Speirs

    We can see the weakness of the Neo-Stalinists in the troubles besetting the Obama kingdom-to-be. He’s not even President-elect yet – the Congress has yet to crown him – and he’s already knee deep in devils. And no “rightist” that I know of put him into this muck. The system is weak and stupid. It can be made weaker by determined resistance and can’t get any smarter.

  • a.sommer

    He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama’s incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites. [....]

    Oh, my goodness.

    It is quite clear that nobody has told this fellow about the 1st Amendment.

  • It is quite clear that nobody has told this fellow about the 1st Amendment.

    And the 1st Amendment prevents classification rules for websites? How?

    Once sites are subject to classification rules they can certainly be controlled, especially everywhere bar the US.

  • Ian B

    Cheer up, IanB! You have to think of yourself as the Christian facing the lion in that old Roman amphitheater.

    I think of us as more like pagan Romans, watching in horror as their shrines and way of life are destroyed by the new “progressive” religion that not so long ago was just a superstition of a handful of Jewish nutballs and slaves but which has now become the official religion of the State.

  • Lukas

    Somehow, I don’t think ‘cooperation’ is what they have in mind. Push is about to come to shove and unless you’re able – and willing – to shove back, you WILL comply. And no, yielding with bad grace doesn’t count as resistance.

    So, how do you resist? Physical force is right out, if I read the Anglosphere correctly; most are complacent, or fearful of the state, and those that aren’t are rightly afraid of physical resistance getting out of hand.

    Publishing ‘work-arounds’ just means that publishing ‘work-arounds’ will get censored, too.

    Because that totally stopped “piracy”.

  • Ian B

    Lukas, nothing (in most cases) stops illegality. The point of laws isn’t to stop illegality. It’s to stop legality.

    This is the choice made by prohibitionists. If you prohibit alcohol, you are choosing illegal alcohol. If you prohibit abortion, you are choosing illegal abortion. You force out the legal brewer and abortionist and replace them with the bootlegger and back-street abortionist.

    They don’t really want to stop people doing things. They want to arrest people for doing them, which is a totally different thing.

  • Otto

    Ian B, I think that you are far too pessimistic.

    The Enemy Class is essentially bureaucratic in its mindset. They work with a simple mental toolkit in which the solution to every problem involves spending money, passing laws and issuing directions, instructions and guidelines. As time goes on they create ever more criminal offences and ever more guidelines to regulate every aspect of our behaviour social as well as commercial ever more thoroughly.

    Whilst the Enemy Class’s arrogance, stupidity and, in the case of many of its members, evil is unlimited their practical power is not so unlimited.

    They are subject to the principle of diminishing returns. Already, a substantial part of the UK population (eg drivers, parents, small business people, welfare claimants) lives in a state of permanent low grade illegality.

    Gradually, they are turning Britain from a culturally lawful to a culturally illegal country. That fact alone greatly undermines their capabilities.

    In Britain, they are heading for running out of money in the not too distant future.

    I am sure to some extent they will manage to censor the internet.

    However, people who can think will in due course do so. The seeds of libertarian ideas are all around in books and in people’s memories of other times. All those seeds need is the fertile soil of dissatisfaction.

    If all else fails, the minority of people who can think will work it out for themselves, and, again if all else fails, spread their thoughts by word of mouth.

    Put another way, the Enemy Class will carry on legislating and criminalising with decreasing contact with reality until they are overthrown by revolutions most probably led by the dissatisfied of their own class. A different and less bureaucratic paradigm will then ensue.

    If you want a historical analogy, I would suggest the Reformation with the Enemy Class in the position of the Roman Catholic Church shortly before Luther nailed his theses to the cathedral door.

  • permanentexpat

    ‘Spartacus’ was crucified…as was ‘I am Spartacus’
    Rome went merrily on for hundreds of years until moral & military decline destroyed it.
    …and the Romans had more guts than we do.
    Nothing to learn there, of course.

  • Otto

    Permanexpat,

    You’re forgetting that Rome had the fundamentals of a market economy, control of essential resources (grain in particular) and a very effective military right. Where they did have a weakness was in periodic succession crisises whenever an emperor died without an adult heir or was murdered.

    The enemy class as they try to kill the market economy, have to import most resources and products, but for the moment can still pay the police, only gets one out of three.

    In due course, the cry of the many will be “Les police avec nous” (The police with us).

    Unlike Ian B (whose postings are always worth thinking about), I believe that the Enemy Class is living on borrowed time.

  • permanentexpat

    Otto:

    Permanexpat,

    You’re forgetting that Rome had the fundamentals of a market economy, control of essential resources (grain in particular) and a very effective military right. Where they did have a weakness was in periodic succession crisises whenever an emperor died without an adult heir or was murdered.

    Indeed I do not forget the points you mention. In fact I lived my early life in such an empire & it did not have the succession weaknesses which you correctly attribute to Rome.
    WW2 and, regrettably, FDR did for us &, unlike the French and, to an extent, the Dutch, who tried to restablish their hegemony, we simply accepted the gradual independence of our Empire which, as we had neither cash nor teeth, was eminently sensible.
    Then, betraying a Commonwealth composed largely of our own kind, we became subservient to an unelected bureaucracy called the EU…which doesn’t even speak the same f*****g language. Brilliant. Sic transit etc.

  • The idea that the Internet could be a stateless free-for-all was always a goofy fantasy. The infrastructure of the Internet still needs to reside somewhere, and wherever it is, states can regulate and control it. Not completely, of course, but the state doesn’t completely control society, either.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Well said Perry.

    And of course I have no doubt that if this revolting government is voted out, the Tories will not be any better.

  • Dale Amon

    Many point out something I consider a truism. All libertarians must be prepared to be outlaws. You draw your personal lines in the sand and when the State goes past, you go underground and keep on keepin’ on.

    “When freedom is outlawed, only outlaws will have freedom.”

    Is precisely the reason that an over bureaucratic state is on the way to becoming a failed state. When everyone is a criminal, the prisons are packed and there is nothing to be done but to start letting the killers and rapists and child-molesters run free to make room for the really dangerous people who commit the ultimate crime of lese majeste against the rulers.

    When a society reaches that point, it is collapsing.

  • Paul Marks

    Judging by the words of the left when they are talking to each other (either at physical conferences or via the internet) they are most concerned with getting people like M. Malkin off the internet and restricting places like Townhall.com and Human Events. However, yes they will use “kiddieporn” as a cover (to set the system up).

    Then it will be racism – Malkin is anti illegal immigrant and that can be claimed to be racist (even though the lady is not white), and Human Events has articles by Pat B. – and if was demanded that they not longer have such articles they would get angry and refuse (even though they do not actually agree with Pat B. much these days). And other sites (including this one) could be got rid of in other ways.

    “But the First Amendment Paul”.

    It will not stop them with broadcasting – the “airwaves belong to the public” so “diversity” (i.e. establishment leftistism) can be enforced – and most likely will be.

    Cable and sat, and internet – I am sure there is a “public ownership” angle somewhere. Which would leave only those great strongholds of the vast right conspiracy – the School of Journalism newspapers (such as the New York Times – may it go bankrupt and its publisher get the pox).

    Remember at least four of the judges on the Supreme Court are scumbags, and guess who is going to be appointing judges over the next four years.

    The stakes are very high for the leftists:

    The economy is going to fall off a cliff – and some of them know that.

    So the question is “who gets the blame”.

    Will George Walker Bush be presented as a “free market” person whose “minimal state extremism” (remember Nobel man Krugman has claimed Bush and co are libertarians) has led to the problems that play out under the “The One”.

    Or will policy under Bush be presented honestly – as the wild spending stupidity it was.

    With Comrade Obama continuing the wild spending policy.

    If the left control most sources of information they can make most people believe anything they like – no matter how flatly contradicted by the facts it is.

    And they only need 51% of the voters in 2012.

  • Andrew Duffin

    You say you won’t co-operate; neither will I.

    Fortunately for the Andy Burnhams of this world, however, it’s not our co-operation they need, but those of our ISP’s.

    All of whom are good corporate citizens, willing to trade favours with the Big State, and happy to adopt its views and further its intentions, if that buys them official approval and permission, for the time being, to continue in business.

    So we can “not co-operate” all we wish. It will make no difference whatever.

  • Please correct this American if I’m wrong, but isn’t Brit behavior at an all-time low for modern times? Aren’t many kids in the UK incorrigible brats? It’s not my intention to insult Brits, but rather I find it mistifying that government officials can’t see that when people were better behaved, the government wasn’t 1) surveyling them 24/7 with cameras, and 2) “protecting” children from the naughty bits of life. Nowadays, with Nannystatism run rampant in the UK, the bad elements in Great Britain are running rampant as well.

  • Letalis Maximus, Esq.

    Oh, I don’t know. Mark Steyn seems to be doing a pretty good job of getting pissed off, standing up, and not taking it anymore.

    Resistance is not futile. And that, friends, is the point.

  • Mike Devx

    If you stick to your guns, you are doomed to an early, easy loss.

    The internet is now a civic institution, available to all, not just to the early adopters – early adopters who can handle a lot of nudity, pornography, and chaos.

    Parents are going to be simply unwilling to put up with the internet, if their child can type in ABCD.com, and get presented immediately with a flagrantly pulsing ten inch, er, appendage right in the face.

    As a civic institution, the internet now requires parental involvement and involvement of all kinds.

    You’d better get to work on a meta-language that will allow content to be filtered by the end users, or you are simply going to lose, hands down, in no time at all. And the loss will be catastrophic, because free speech will be ended. ENDED.

    It’s your choice. Allow end user filtering, or accept a complete loss. The days of the Wild Wild West free-for-all, favored by the early adopters, is gone.

    Your cooperation in this simply doesn’t matter.

  • JB

    Not to sound like a punk, but this whole thread is stupid. They cannot control a damn thing for long because the emerging technologies will outrun their ability to do so.

    What happens when you have White Spaces, or some kind of emerging National Mesh infrastructure? You can’t control that short of banning and confiscating the access points. It’s completely decentralized in theory, with no ISPs. Think CB radio over long distances.

    You people still don’t understand what has happened over the last 10 years. This thing is beyond their control; they will try but they don’t have the capability to deal with it. The Singularity is coming — Kurzweil is right. They are too slow and will fall by the early 20s.

    Technology is the new libertarianism — they can’t stop it and it will take them down.

  • Kiddie Porn.

    And, if you don’t want to cooperate with those trying to put pedophiles in jail and off the internet then you too are a criminal.

    And as such, you belong in jail with the pedophiles you enable.

  • free man

    I think the future is Freenet, an encrypted anonymous network that operates over the Internet and supports many of the protocols we are used to though at a rather slower speed. The project is still in its infancy, but as more and more content is deemed to be contrary to the “wider public interest”, I expect to see more users and content there and better performance.

  • JB

    Kiddie porn? You gotta be crapping me. The future of kiddie porn is computer-generated imaging, i.e. kiddie porn without kiddies. It will be impossible to stop but it will be a victimless crime.

    They are still trying to solve problems that peaked a decade ago. What does that tell you about their capabilities? When the combined power of the Internet (think the Open Source movement) turns its powers onto undermining the fascists, they don’t stand a chance.

    How do you stop websites that mutate into encrypted mailing lists which auto-regenerate on the user’s display. This whole discussion is a joke, honestly. You’ve simply not considered all the end-runs that are available. They’d have to go whole hog fascist fast, and they simply don’t have the balls to do it.

  • tim stevens

    Protect children: keep the little buggers OFF the internet!

  • So are we pretending that copyright violation and libel *aren’t* issues on the Internet?

  • The technology has advanced too far to be controlled, in any society other than totalitarian.
    Anyway, the UK is going the way of Sharia, which will be the source of control. Look to Saudi Arabia for the future of England. Unless something remarkable happens fast.

  • Pat Patterson

    Let’s be honest if there was a button that allowed certain sites to disappear by using a Tantalus Field how many of us wouldn’t rid the world of Huffington Post or any web site devoted to kittens and cats.

  • toad

    Well one thing the control freaks have been overlooking is that in US the ending of the “fairness doctrine,” has created popular financial entities. There are people and organizations with access to lobbyist and campaign money that are also making money off the net as is. Print media is losing a good portion of its advertising to the net. The whisper has been a couple of US Congress critters have been warned off of trying to kill talk radio especially in an economic down turn. I wouldn’t be surprised if this applies to the net also, esp. with net radio carrying a number of popular conservative talk shows. A couple of newspapers are now no longer printing they are net entities only, the Christian Science Monitor comes to mind. I can see the lawyers salivating over attempts to regulate a religious sourced news agency on the net in the US.

  • Midwesterner

    The purpose of criminalizing so many activities is not to stop those activities. It is to make it easy to attack (by enforcing the law) any one who resists authority.

    How wonderfully appropriate that a commenter who chooses the name “PersonFromPorlock” chooses “distraction” as a weapon. I admire both your humor and your plan. For not only do these same laws turn virtually all politicians into criminals, politicians seem naturally inclined in that direction anyway. When authorities decide to silence and suppress any particular critics, we need to (and already are to a great extent) rally together as a group against the attacking authorities. Ezra and Mark have already had substantial success with this approach but they were actually very restrained and did not counter investigate the personal activities of the politicians attacking them.

    There’s letters seal’d: and my two schoolfellows,
    Whom I will trust as I will adders fang’d,
    They bear the mandate; they must sweep my way
    And marshal me to knavery. Let it work;
    For ’tis the sport to have the engineer
    Hoist with his own petard; and ‘t shall go hard
    But I will delve one yard below their mines
    And blow them at the moon: O, ’tis most sweet,
    When in one line two crafts directly meet.

  • brian

    You may not wish to cooperate, but keep in mind that the government is far more heavily armed than you, and have shown both here in the states, and there in Europe, that they have no compunction about killing citizens “for their own good.”

    Although any attempts at censorship will result in workarounds. It’s not like the outside world stops existing in China, it just takes a few extra steps.

  • Dobe R Mann

    If you would like to review an example, of a fascist entity, trying to censor the ‘net look at $cientology vs ..what…. everyone on the internet.

    It didn’t keep Xenu in the closet, as much as Tom and Company wanted it to.

    JB is correct. Bureaucrats verses the technological acumen of the–whole world– I’ll put my money on the whole world.

    Woof!

  • hitnrun

    Fortunately, the stars don’t really align for poor, confused Mr. Burnham. Both the left and right in the United States have factions with fascistic inclinations, but the current president-elect owes his survival within his own party’s contests to the young and (let’s not beat around the bush) piracy-inclined Internet idealists.

    The Democrats may not care about their votes any longer, but they still want their money. Some might vote for such a measure to garner some points with the morality crowd, but they would more likely kill it quietly. Republicans, of course, aren’t going to go for something so open to abuse if they’re not in power (and absolutely never if the reviewing body would be international). And regardless, the Supreme Court is divided between liberals and conservative textualists, who would hold an essay contest to see who could strike down the measure in the most emphatic fashion.

  • Alnonymous Gorte

    Actually the people who ‘created’ the internet

    52 comments, and no one has made the obligatory Al Gore joke yet?!

    OK, so Gore merely “took the initiative in creating the internet,” and didn’t actually invent it (nor claim to).

  • So are we pretending that copyright violation and libel *aren’t* issues on the Internet?

    Do you seriously think that this move is actually about copyright violation and libel? In any case the large chunks of the whole issue of copyright is moot.

  • Pink Pig

    There seems to be a great deal of misinformation out there about the nascence of the Internet. It was originally a project of DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and the first version of it was built by Bolt, Beranek and Newman in Cambridge, MA. The original name was ARPANET, the ARPA part coming from DARPA, of course. In the 80s, academics discovered its existence, and used it to send documents back and forth, which was undoubtedly an improvement over whatever preceded it. In the late 80s, 1989 IIRC, Tim Berners-Lee came up with the idea of using it to create hyperlinkable documents (thank you, Ted), thus the WWW.

    It is now beyond the control of any government anywhere, which personally I regard as a very good thing entirely. There is still a residual threat of overcommercialism, which is the main threat to the integrity of the net. It’s particularly a bad thing that companies like Google have apparently taken it upon themselves to be self-appointed czars of the Internet. The Internet is the last bastion of libertarianism, and needs very much to be protected from the encroachment of self-appointed czars. If we end up being taxed, then we will be destroyed.

  • A Government behind in the polls suggests an unworkable policy reliant on competence in IT and planning, what could possibly go wrong.

    Fortunately this ‘policy’ is for Daily Mail headlines not implementation.

  • Roger Godby

    Mr. Burnham? Is that Gary Numan’s pseudonym? I’ve got my CD of “The Pleasure Principle,” the cover of which I’d post, but it suggests sexuality explicit content and would thus have to be pulled down (like my trousers).

  • lukas

    Do you seriously think that this move is actually about copyright violation and libel? In any case the large chunks of the whole issue of copyright is moot.

    As are large chunks of the whole issue of libel.

  • speedwell

    I’ve been using the Net to chat and BBS so long that I predate “the Internet.” I have used a 300-baud modem when my friends considered a 600-baud modem “fast”.

    I’ve seen a new crop of newbies every year. The first thing I always tell them is, “The Internet is not some sort of centrally controlled Utopia. It is public. The people here are the same people as the people ‘out there.’ Not better. Not worse. The same. This is not another place. This is a place in the world. If you wouldn’t give your credit card number to some random con artist, then don’t do it here. If you wouldn’t join a cult over the phone, then don’t become emotionally attached to a chatroom. If you’re looking for bad stuff, you will find it. If you’re looking for good stuff, you will find it. If you let your kid on here unsupervised, it is the same as letting them roam around outside unsupervised.”

    Because of this, I see all attacks on Internet freedoms as indistinguishable from attacks on non-Internet freedoms. The state is now trying to cast the Internet as a “bad place” that needs to be heavily regulated (naturally), but if they are successful, they will use their regulations to apply to offline life too. When they can break up a chatroom, they can break up public gatherings. When they can deny someone access to the Internet, they can deny someone access to offline libraries, books and communications services. When they impose special conditions on Web-based businesses, it’s no different from imposing those conditions on all business. When they can dictate Web content, they can dictate all content. When they fail to recognize Internet property rights, they can subsequently claim that they recognize no property rights.

  • a.sommer

    It’s your choice. Allow end user filtering, or accept a complete loss. The days of the Wild Wild West free-for-all, favored by the early adopters, is gone.

    Eh? End user filtering is already out there- http://www.cyberpatrol.com/ – as a for-sale product provided by a company to those willing to pay for it.

    In the US, the Supreme Court struck down the Communications Decency Act and ruled 7-2 that the internet’s 1st Amendment protections are on par with the press, not TV or radio. The prevailing opinion of the SC seems to be that restricting the ability of adults to access online content in order to protect minors is incompatible with the 1st Amendment.

    You’re welcome to be pessimistically British if you like, but getting US gov’t buy-in for Burnham’s project is basically impossible.

  • The state absolutely plans on non-cooperation. That is what enforcement agencies and fines are for. What the state, or more accurately the people who make up the mandarinate and the political class is to survive. They expect to survive physically. They expect to survive economically, They expect to survive socially.

    Physical survival questions are for places like Iran, the PRC, or Zimbabwe. I would not recommend mailing bullets. But I find nothing wrong with economic or social pressure to make it crystal clear that government has stepped beyond what it should and a price will be extracted. Those who participate in illegitimate government action should feel alone, turned out from the best shops, and generally the worse for wear in their non-official lives.

    Without the fiction that they are loved, that they are doing good, that they are appreciated, a proper feedback loop will be strengthened. It would be about time.

  • Paul Marks

    First I hope that Toad is correct – in the Congress (and F.C.C.?) not moving against talk radio (if only on the commercial grounds that demanding “diversity” will bankrupt it). We shall see.

    As for child sex types – the left could not care less about child sex images or child rape.

    “How dare you say that” – I dare say that because in the United States the left are behind the movement that wishes to treat child rape as a “sickness” and do their best to keep child rapists out of prison. And I do not just mean the demented leftists of the universities – what starts in universities spreads, there are many judges who are part of this movement.

    But also (as I have said before) look at the left conferences on the media and the internet – on their conversations on their own sites.

    It is not child sex they are interested in blocking (when talking to each other they do not mention an interest in fighting this at all). Perry is correct, it is just an excuse for a power grab.

  • Paul Marks

    Rome.

    Decline can take a long time.

    Rome became a military dictatorship (with the commander of the army above the law) with the final victory of Octavian.

    Good dictator he may have been – but dictator he was. And he no more allowed private citizens to own and train with weapons (the standard practice of free men in the Roman Republic or anywhere else) than he allowed real elections for such posts as the Consuls.

    One could be very kind and say that Rome (in spite of slavery, and in spite of the corn dole, and in spite of public works and in spite of debasement and despite of …..) did not become a really statist (as opposed to interventionist) place till the time of Diocletian.

    However, under him the government tried to set all prices (on pain of death), and tried to prevent the vast majority of people (the peasants) leaving whatever land they were born on (making them serfs), and tried to make all urban occupations hereditory.

    Even the outward show of freedom was gone – with people have to prostrate themselves on the ground when they met the army commander (Emperor) as if he were a Persian “King of Kings”.

    Diocletian became Emperor in 284 A.D.

    Rome was not sacked by the Goths till 410 A.D. – and the last Emperor of the West did go till 476 A.D.

    If I wanted to argue that the Eastern Empire was “late Roman” (that the Byzantine Empire was not wildly less statist) I could say that the mess carried on till 1453 A.D., but I will not be so extreme.

    But I assure you there was no dramatic reform in the West after Diocletian (although there were Emperors who had some good ideas – such as the tax cuts of Julian, or the religious tolerance of Valentarian I) Rome was a statist mess.

    And it dragged its death out for centuries – with each generation living worse than the one before.