A recent article detailing 5 commandments that govern the Internet 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.
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, and more recently CISPA, 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.
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