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A recent article detailing 5 commandments that govern the Internet 5 Internet Commandments To Live By Or Incur The Wrath Of The Web (And A Note On Porn) 5 Internet Commandments To Live By Or Incur The Wrath Of The Web (And A Note On Porn) The Internet is a somewhat lawless place. Sure, there are various legalities concerning the posting and viewing of certain content -- including pornography and copyrighted material -- but generally speaking the rules that govern the... Read More prompted a rather serious realization to emerge in my rapidly aging gray matter. While these commandments are all jokey in nature – being adages created by people more intelligent than you or I – perhaps the Internet needs a real set of rules and regulations to turn it from the Wild West into a civilized place to hang out.

Everybody has rules in their life, whether or not they choose to believe they’re completely free. From country-specific laws to personal morals, statutes govern how we live our lives. These follow through to the online world, but they’re often overlooked or underplayed.

For last week’s We Ask You column the MakeUseOf readership explored this subject matter, and the results were rather enlightening.

The Results

We asked you, Does The Internet Need Rules & Regulations? The response was phenomenal once again, with almost 100 comments at the time of writing. The discussion suggests people are passionate about this subject, especially those who want the Internet to be left well alone and beyond the reach of governmental interference.

This was always going to be a subject which touched a nerve. The reactions to SOPA and PIPA SOPA And PIPA Abandoned After Day Of Internet Activism [News] SOPA And PIPA Abandoned After Day Of Internet Activism [News] As the day of online activism opposing SOPA and PIPA continued, supporters quickly began to have second thoughts. Now, the final blows have been struck. Senator Harry Reid has decided to put the Protect IP... Read More , and more recently CISPA CISPA: What Is It & Why Should We Care? [INFOGRAPHIC] CISPA: What Is It & Why Should We Care? [INFOGRAPHIC] Read More , show how worried people are that our online rights will slowly be eroded. Unfortunately this subject is also one that’s too big to sum up in just a few paragraphs, so I urge you all to read through the discussion here Does the Internet Need Rules & Regulations? [We Ask You] Does the Internet Need Rules & Regulations? [We Ask You] I previously wrote an article detailing 5 of the commandments that govern the Internet. These are more like adages than laws; more a form of etiquette than hard rules. Still, it set my mind to... Read More .


Having done just that myself there are some key points that deserve highlighting:

  • Personal morals should govern the Internet more than any actual laws.
  • Any rules and regulations should be decided by the Internet as a whole.
  • Laws specific to a country should only apply within its borders.
  • There is a distinct lack of agreement when it comes to copyright violations.
  • The online “crimes” existed offline before the Internet was created.
  • The Internet has no borders, and yet companies who operate on it still do.
  • Apart from a select few things, there is a real lack of consensus.

Comment Of The Week

We had great input from the likes of Tecno, Dragonmouth, and Maxi3w, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to dc0de, who receives the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this:

As one who started on computers and BBS’s back in the late 1970’s, I have always enjoyed the freedom of expression that exists in the ‘online’ forum.
I would be sad to learn that those freedoms could be limited. The internet has grown into a place where freedom, anonymity, and expression are not only encouraged, but openly welcomed. While there are some websites, services, and limits, removing those places where that freedom can still be expressed, would be a significant move backwards.
Think about those who live in repressive countries, who have used the internet to show the rest of the world how they are living, and then enacting positive change to gain more freedoms? How would limiting the internet be beneficial?
As a parent, I agree, that Pornography is a minor problem. However, I also have the responsibility as a parent to ensure that my children understand the difference between sexuality and sensuality. Nudity is not offensive, it is artistic. There are tools that allow me to block pornography sites and other offensive content, without impacting the internet community at large. It is easy to find, and easy to use… if people simply look.
In the United States, limiting the internet is tantamount to limiting free speech. I don’t agree with any reduction in our rights, so I feel that any move in this direction is a misguided one. We should be spending our legislative dollars on fixing existing legislation; removing old, outdated legislation; and updating laws for this new environment.
I’d much rather see legislation that protects my personal data, and a law that requires full disclosure of ALL personal data that is stored by anyone, including the government. My information is not a commodity to be bought and sold.

We especially liked this comment because not only does it come from someone who has been dabbling online for a long time, it introduced the concept of “responsibility” into the discussion. We’re all responsible for what we do online and offline, regardless of the rules that exist to veer us towards a certain way of behaving.

We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps for your fellow MakeUseOf readers. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.

Image Credit: Richard King

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  1. Marek S?owikowski
    April 3, 2013 at 3:13 am

    Internet is only medium or tool. Like car or hammer. You can use it or not. You can use it wisely or not. You can drive a car to get where you want or you can make an accident. You can use internet to steal info or you can invite your friends to party by e-mail. If someone want to restrict internet access, he should consider to audit every knife user as potential murderer. Guns do not kill people. People do this.

  2. Maxi3w
    March 29, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Very well chosen comment of the week. Thanks dc0de, you have summed up perfectly and entirely what some of us feel outright about our Internet freedom.

    Responsibility, yep, we all need to take some of that on board. And porn? of course it's a minor issue. (I love your last sentences about information about 'Everybody', rich, famous, in polotics and so on, should have their info made public too if it came to it).Great, deserved winning comment! :-)

    • Dave Parrack
      March 29, 2013 at 7:06 pm

      I'm glad you agreed with the comment chosen to win the points. I always wonder whether the majority agree with my decision or not. :)

      • Maxi3w
        March 30, 2013 at 11:09 am

        Hi Dave, - we are dealing with people here! ;-) You know some are going to agree with the winning comment and some are not. But overall, especially on this winner, many of us were saying the same thing - he just encapsulated it better!!

        You could always hold a "Do you think the winning comment was justified" segment.... However, that would just keep the subject going on for ever!! You are a knowledgable guy who knows his stuff and I think you spot the winning comments well.

        You won't make everbody happy, but I reckon 90% of people will agree with your decision - the most minimum would be 75% - but I think the majority do :)

  3. Th3 Ghost
    March 27, 2013 at 1:25 pm

    Why sharing files is piracy? Is it the same thing to share some book in real life to your friend to read,you pay for the book and people that you want to share can use it free. What's different in virtual world?
    About that "Does The Internet Need Rules & Regulations? " I think that we should have place where we can do anything because everything is virtual.If you want to be like in real world everybody to track you and watch your activities then Create new global protocol for business and www for entertainment.

    • Chris Marcoe
      March 27, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      So, you are saying: If someone commits a crime online, it should be OK. i totally disagree with that. The law is still the law, regardless of where the crime is committed. And if it is a virtual crime, it doesn't mean the crime was virtual in an unreal way. It was still a crime.

    • Dave Parrack
      March 29, 2013 at 7:03 pm

      That's one argument for piracy, but you're not going to convince copyright holders anytime soon.

  4. Scott M
    March 27, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Keep the internet free.Join the Pirate Party and make your views heard.

  5. macwitty
    March 27, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Things that are illegal off line is illegal on line and should be prosecuted in the same way. Today it seems as police and prosecutors do not really understand how to do and some see life on the Internet as a kind of play pretend world that they need not bother.

    • Chris Marcoe
      March 27, 2013 at 5:04 pm

      That is an incredibly insightful comment. You hit it right on the head. Too many people think its not the real world and think there is no accountability on the net.

      • Jeremy Garnett
        March 28, 2013 at 12:11 am

        I agree, this is a comment well thought out and relevant to all of us, not just in the USA. I particularly like the last paragraph.

  6. Uchitha Jayathissa
    March 27, 2013 at 4:23 am

    Yes. Internet is a free space. Too much freedom leads to too much troubles.