posted Jan 11, 2001

Fear of a Web planet
Free Speech
1/11/2001; 10:14:27 AM 'I say "perceived anarchy" and "apparent absence" because in truth, though the Internet is more decentralized and anarchic than any preceding medium with similar mass availability, it is not nearly as "out of control" as its more wild-eyed prophets have envisioned, or as its more paranoid critics, à la Carr, have insisted. The Internet is the creation of human beings and -- it's almost too obvious to point out, isn't it? -- human beings remain subject to the laws of their nations.

'If child pornography is against the law in the U.S., it remains against the law, online or offline. If selling "Mein Kampf" is against the law in Germany and your store wants to do business in Germany, you will have to figure out a way to stop selling it in Germany. Yahoo has recently faced a French court order to block access to pro-Nazi sites and sale of Nazi paraphernalia through its auction service -- and while Yahoo's core U.S. operations may not be subject to French law, the company has a French subsidiary that surely is.'

While this hueristic can't solve the whole 'problem of the Internet' (whatever you may define that to be), I think this article does do a good job of concisely demonstrating that the Internet is hardly 'out of control'. In the final analysis, at least here in America and most other Western societies, the Internet is simply a communication device that makes it easier to do things we could already do in the past.


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