Refreshing honesty – damnable ambition

Yesterday I blogged about s.230 of the Communications Decency Act, 1996 and how a group of academics and civil society organizations were trying to persuade the US government to insist upon Canada and Mexico agreeing to adopt a version of it in the negotiations currently taking place around the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Later that day someone sent me a link to a blog published by one of the signatories, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

It ill-behoves a Brit to lecture anyone on the ugliness of imperial ambition,  and the EFF at least had the good grace to confess being a little uneasy about their tactics. However, as with zealots down the ages, the ends can easily be made to justify the means.

Take those troublesome Canadians, for example.  Here is what the EFF say

The difficulty with the inclusion of Section 230 style safe harbors in NAFTA is that it would either require Canada and Mexico to change their law, or it would require the provision to be watered down in order to become compatible with their existing law—which would make its inclusion pointless. Therefore, the first option is the better one. (emphasis added).  For Canada, in particular, strengthening legal protection for Internet platforms could help roll back the precedent set in the Google v. Equustek case, in which the Canadian Supreme Court required Google to globally de-index a website that purportedly infringed Canadian trade secret rights.

So we’re clear about that?  For the EFF it’s the American way or it’s the highway. The quaint habits and jurisprudence of other democracies are to be tolerated only insofar as they are identical to ours. No room for doubt or deviation. Local context? Piffle. The whole world is seeking to modify the excesses which have been facilitated by s.230. The whole world is wrong and if they want to sell us washing machines……

I wish I could be as certain about anything as the EFF seem to be about everything.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International, Technical Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, which is administered by Save the Children Italy and an Advisory Council Member of Beyond Borders (Canada). Amongst other things John is or has been an Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and is a former Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. More: http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com
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