Our very first topic of discussion is away, and it is one that sprang to mind when I read today’s press. The conservative party in the UK is proposing that there should be greater controls placed on web content. Is this a good thing? or do you think it is the first step to policing and censoring the exchange of information?
A day late getting this posted....
I am a big fan of the concept of self-censorship. And by that, I don't mean stifling creative thought. I mean that we each have an obligation to try and get along with other people, and that means in part that we have to make an attempt to avoid offence. Just because it's virtually impossible to avoid offending anyone isn't a good enough reason to just give up and offend everyone.
I am not in favor of legal restrictions on web content; beyond the practical, I feel that if we needed them, we'd be not much better than children, unable to control ourselves. And there is the practical - unless you go the route that China has chosen and attempt to provide all of the internet content for your citizens internally somehow, it's very difficult to control what web content can cross your borders.
In the less-distant future, perhaps we will actually be a global culture, governed by a single legal body. Even then, the appropriate route is in creating consequences. There are consequences if you open your mouth and insert foot at your boy/girlfriend's family dinner and offend his/her family, and there should be consequences for putting certain types of content online or putting it online without appropriate safeguards to keep in out of the wrong hands.
What should those be? Depends on the culture we have developed by the time we're able to enforce those. Right now, it's usually monetary, and that doesn't seem to be working. I'm not thrilled with punative options, although perhaps it would work better if "prison" were on Mars or something. Who knows. I think there's gotta be a better solution. We're too advanced not to be able to come up with something.