Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Fight the Power!

... oh, wait... they are the power.

The New York Times has this article about Microsoft's evolving standards for an appropriate level of, and process for, censorship when it is called for to appease arbitrary government authorities. (If I were writing a work of fiction then I would give Microsoft's chief counsel the name "Mr. Smith," and, happily, that is in fact his name.)
"One of the things we've looked at is, How far does a government's jurisdiction reach?" Mr. Smith said. "In most countries, a government has jurisdiction over the flow of information to its users, but no country has legal jurisdiction over the flow of information to users over the rest of the world."
Wow. Is this really Microsoft's position? I mean... well, two things. Two and a half. First of all, it's trivially true. First-and-a-half, it's an easy position to take, here in the land of the free. But secondly, where does Microsoft - a US company - draw the line? Where does the law draw the line? What if the United States government demanded Microsoft shut down a blog or a site? (Because... well, make up your own farfetched paranoid web-based terrorist conspiracy, God knows the government will.) Would Microsoft really be so bold as to merely black out U.S. users, leaving the site accessible to the rest of the world?

Or... I don't know, it just seems a very sweeping statement. I like it. Maybe someone could make a slogan out of it, something catchy, like, "Information wants to be free." Or maybe, "It Can't Happen Here."


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