As surprising as it may sound, digital surveillance and speech control in the United States already show many similarities to what one finds in authoritarian states such as China. Constitutional and cultural differences mean that the private sector, rather than the federal and state governments, currently takes the lead in these practices, which further values and address threats different from those in China. But the trend toward greater surveillance and speech control here, and toward the growing involvement of government, is undeniable and likely inexorable.
In the great debate of the past two decades about freedom versus control of the network, China was largely right and the United States was largely wrong. Significant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values.
It is a shame to see Goldsmith make this kind of argument, he was rightly very critical of the George W Bush admin when he worked in it. hope the guys can have him on the pod. He is a regular contributor at Lawfare and I know they have wanted to get Ben Wittes on, which would also be great.
Perfect! And we should put these censorship rules in place immediately, so our executive branch can begin to control what we pions are allowed to read and hear. He’s a genius you know, perfect for this job.
I can only assume these authors are big fans of Fox and Friends.
The alt-right has been screeching about this article, seemingly oblivious that the primary author is a right-wing blogger and think-tanker in addition to being a Harvard professor, and that he is toeing the alt-right party line with regards to Section 230. In fact, without making any significant argument, rather stating the status quo with their own spin, the article seems to be designed to float the delusion that Section 230 is a "gift" given by the government, and not what it really is, a protection from a specific tactic of legal thuggery, establishing legally what is common sense - that people's words are their own and are their own responsibility, regardless of whose machines they flow through to get from one brain to another.
Section 230 does precisely the opposite of what he claims it does, allowing the moderation of all that "bullying, harassment, child sexual exploitation, revenge porn, disinformation campaigns, digitally manipulated videos, and other forms of harmful content" without it putting computer services in the same category as a newspaper employing editorial discretion, which would open them up to frivolous lawsuits.
Inevitably these frameworks and censorship tools are too convient and useful to pass up for any government, no matter how noble the cause
To me the one of the greatest ironies of digital censorship is that after pulling out of China largely largely claiming not wanting to build a system that allowed dynamic censorship based on government quests - Google built a system that does exactly that (abet with checks and oversight) for the European Union.
The real question on the future of the internet will depend on how the arbiter of truth is derived. Anything from state censors, a coalition of tech companies, or supposedly impartial third party judges have all been suggested, but none of the proposed solutions adequately capture the horrifying potential power of the controll over the very idea of truth
Dr. Andrew Woods, a professor of law at the University of Arizona, argues that China is winning the war on internet control. At one point in the attached article, he states that "[s]ignificant monitoring and speech control are inevitable components of a mature and flourishing internet, and governments must play a large role in these practices to ensure that the internet is compatible with a society’s norms and values."
On that premise, Woods concludes that China has done a superior job in terms of bridaling digital free speech. But this may prove to be a disturbing conclusion to some. Is speech control inevitable? Is it a good? Philosophically, can speech flourish?