Bonum Certa Men Certa

When Hypocrites Speak Out Against Censorship

A Protestant Allegory
A Protestant Allegory: The four evangelists stoning the pope, together with hipocrisy and avarice

Summary: The definition of hypocrisy matches some of those (high-profile figures) who claim to be against censorship

IF someone criticises censorship and promotes free speech, then it is imperative to see that someone's own response to speech s/he does not like. A lot of people say that they are for free speech only when they defend the rights of those with whom they agree; a lot of people complain about censorship only when their own views are being suppressed or banned. One can only be a champion of free speech when he or she can tolerate uncomfortable messages, sometimes even libel (for which there are solutions other than censorship).

The other day we saw DRM apologist [1, 2, 3] Tim Berners-Lee expressing concern about censorship and lack of privacy [1,2], two things which DRM pretty much assures. So who is he to speak out for free speech and anonymity while promoting DRM? In similar news, see Google's Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt speaking out about the end of censorship [3] -- a problem that Google is a part of [1, 2]. Then there's Neelie Kroes, whose "think about the children" mentality and betrayal of net neutrality [4] (which is necessary for free speech) cannot be forgotten when she speaks about "online safety" (common excuse for imposing censorship) [5].

Here in the UK things aren't getting better. There are fresh attacks on free speech in universities [6] and this can be seen a lot more frequently these days when it comes to journalism which touches GCHQ et al. -- meaning software vandals, crackers, and saboteurs from the NSA and its ilk (people who break the law under the veil of secrecy and immunity by affiliation with statism). Those in power are also using legal threats in an attempt to silence voices by proxy (via site maintainers) [7], so even those who defend free speech are increasingly being threatened with lawsuits. It is horrifying.

This state of affairs is ill-gotten and we need to find a way out of it. For a start, let's name defenders of free speech who aren't. They're just posers. Sadly, some FOSS sites are also hypocrites on the subject of free speech (we won't name them to avoid embarrassment or infighting).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Tim Berners-Lee: UK and US must do more to protect internet users' privacy
    'Tide of surveillance and censorship' threatens future of democracy, says inventor of world wide web

  2. Tim Berners-Lee warns against government surveillance

  3. Google's Schmidt predicts end of censorship within a decade
    Google Inc (GOOG.O) Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has a bold prediction: Censorship around the world could end in a decade, and better use of encryption will help people overcome government surveillance.

    In a lecture at Johns Hopkins University on Wednesday, the executive of the world's biggest web search company made a pitch for ending censorship in China and other countries with restricted freedom of speech by connecting everyone to the Internet and protecting their communication from spying.

  4. Will the EU Parliament Enable Discrimination Online or Uncompromising Net Neutrality?
    The rapporteur Pilar del Castillo Vera (EPP - Spain) has concluded her draft report on Neelie Kroes' proposal for a Regulation on the Telecom Package. Despite numerous criticisms1 made against the unacceptable anti-Net neutrality provisions in the proposal, del Castillo Vera has chosen not to correct them. Before it is too late, citizens must contact the rapporteur and Members of the ITRE committee, and urge them to ensure the European Parliament guarantees a genuine and unconditional Net neutrality principle.

  5. Teaching online safety: I go "back to school"
    hildren now go online at a very young age. This is good thing: they can benefit from better digital and media literacy; and explore creative and educational online content. This is why Androulla Vassiliou and I launched the Opening up Education initiative.

    The Internet is a fantastic opportunity for young people. But they need to act responsibly too: and in particular to be aware of and able to cope with potential dangers. They must understand that our digital footprint is ever growing, and information put on the web can be misused.

  6. Universities should be the last place to ban free speech
    The censorship of an atheist bookstall at freshers' week is just another example of heavy-handed repression in our universities

  7. Appeals Court To Explore If A Site With 'Dirt' In The URL Loses All Liability Protections For User Comments
    We've covered the bizarre case of Sarah Jones vs. Dirty World (operators of the website "") for quite some time. If you don't recall, this former professional cheerleader/school teacher got upset when a user of posted some statements about her that were potentially defamatory. Rather than go after the actual person who made those claims, Jones sued the site. Well, technically, she and her lawyers first sued the wrong site, which made for quite a mess at the beginning. Eventually, though, she sued the right site, which correctly pointed out that they were protected from liability for their users statements under Section 230 of the CDA. Every court that has taken on a Section 230 case like this has ruled the same way -- that sites are not responsible for the statements of their users. E

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