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Re: [Bug-gne]the problem of illegal content vs. freedom

From: Bob Dodd
Subject: Re: [Bug-gne]the problem of illegal content vs. freedom
Date: Thu, 15 Feb 2001 14:23:03 -0800 (PST)

I think what we need to face is that even GNE requires a philosophy of
right and wrong, however we define that.

The lowest common denominator would seem to be
1) content format
2) spam control
3) external links
4) submission routes into GNE
5) supported written languages

and we can probably get some basic agreement on what is acceptable in
those areas. In doing that we _already_ have established some form of
censorship/editorial contol.

If we call everything above "Level I", then I guess "Level II" goes
something like:

6) full acceptance of local/national laws where GNE is physically
running. E.g. no storing of hate propoganda on German mirrors...

7) full acceptance of local/national laws where GNE is
developed/maintained from. E.g. no active development/maintenance of
GNE in contries where distribution of GNE content would be illegal.

Level II is because we're law-abiding folks, not because we necessarily
agree with those laws.

Level III is where it gets (even) more ethical. Having applied our
basic rules, and by a mixture of design and policy, have also complied
will all local/national laws, we still need to be very sure in our own
minds what is acceptable for us to publish on our servers.

The only way I can see to deal with level III is to look at extremes...
The most extreme thing I can think of would be child pornography, and
there was a case of people being jailed in the UK this week for
disributing over the internet pictures of the rape of a 3 month old
baby. Would we accept those pictures if they were accompanied by a
reasoned article on the horrors of pornography? Even if we could find a
country where distribution of such pictures was legal, I shudder at the
thought of holding it on any part of the GNE network, or having GNE's
(and hence though guilt-by-association my) name associated with it. So,
level III must include: 

8) rules on picture content, wherever we set the limits...

Of course child pornography comes in many forms. Would we hold a
detailed textual description of the rape of that baby? Or fantasies
based upon it? If we are to be consistent, then we have to say that we

9) rules on explicit/graphic textual content, wherever we set the

I don't say it's easy to choose these limits e.g. when does a child
become an adult? All we can do is to apply our very western ethics/bias
and choose something that most of us can live with. But we first have
to cross the philosophical bridge of admiting there _is_ right and
wrong, and just because we can find a legal loophole in some country
somewhere, that doesn't mean we should use it to store highly
objectionable content.

So, in summary

## Level I is about making the repository function
## Level II is about keeping Hector (and the rest of us) out of jail
## Level III is about dealing with (at least) extreme ethical points

We need all 3 levels. How we police and enforce them is something else,
but it's important not to confuse the need for the levels with those
enforcement issues. 

I can also see a Level IV which would cover rules on promotion of
political ideas, philosophies, and theologies which would cover some of
the ground that jimbo is concerned with. Unfortunately I can see so
many practical problems, and dangers of overbearing censorship and
interference, that I feel this area is best left to the classifiers to
handle. I don't particularly want to give a platform to nazis, but at
least by the end of level III editing control, we will have removed the
most offensive images and text, and the classifiers will ensure that
the rest of the material is presented in context, if at all.

/Bob Dodd

--- Jimmy Wales <address@hidden> wrote:
> Mike Warren wrote:
> > Why would you have personal guilt because of someone else's essay?
> Mike,
> I think that the point you are missing is that there is a big
> difference
> between _censoring something_ and _refusing to support it_.
> I support -- strongly -- the right of anyone to espouse their
> political theories or historical theories or anything else.  But I do
> not choose to support their doing it, not with my time, my hard work,
> my money, my machines.  I think that many people feel this way, and
> quite justifiably so.
> I think it would be a terrible mistake for GNU to lend immediate and
> direct support to evil ideas.  This is not about censorship.  If 
> holocaust deniers wish to espouse their theories, we will do nothing
> to stop them -- they can do it on their own time, with their own hard
> work, using their own money, on their own machines.
> But GNU should not serve articles advocating racism from GNU
> machines.
> I think that the naive dogma that editorial oversight is censorship
> really misses the point.
> --Jimbo
> -- 
> *************************************************
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