Government is getting above itself – it should remember that it is our servant, not our master
In one small paragraph that buggers belief, UK members of parliament show that they are divorced from the reality of public opinion and bereft of internet knowledge.
Google acknowledged that it was possible to develop the technology proactively to monitor websites for such material in order that the material does not appear in the results of searches. We find their objections in principle to developing such technology totally unconvincing. Google and other search engines should take steps to ensure that their websites are not used as vehicles to breach the law and should actively develop and use such technology. We recommend that if legislation is necessary to require them to do so it should be introduced.
Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions – First Report: The role of search engines
These people, the cross-party Joint Committee on Privacy and Injunctions, are actually suggesting that Google should be forced, by law, to “develop and use” censorship.
There have been riots in European streets over ACTA’s censorship. The US government has been forced (however temporarily) to backtrack over SOPA’s censorship. The anti-censorship Pirate Party has won parliamentary seats in Germany. So much for being interested in public-opinion. And as for the internet. Almost 20 years ago John Gilmore said “The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” We’ve had two decades of immune system development since then. If it routed around in 1993, it will shrug off in 2012. All that will happen is that otherwise innocent people will be forced to break or by-pass the law in a natural curiosity about the truth.
But such supreme arrogance from our political master raises two important questions about the nature of democracy in the free democratic West.
- Do we elect people in order to delegate total responsibility to them, in order to say, ‘here you go, you make up my mind for me in future and just tell me what to do’; or do we elect people to enact what we wish them to enact?
- Is the rule of law sacrosanct; that is, once these people pass a law, do we have to obey that law under all circumstances?
To the first I say categorically that my elected representative is there to represent me and my wishes. He or she is not there to represent the wishes of business, other governments or anything or person other than me. And I say think again about your current attitude towards internet censorship and copyright protection.
To the second question I say that it is the duty of all citizens to reject the rule of law when their conscience demands it. War criminals are probably not law breakers: they uphold the rule of law in their own lands. You cannot say that the rule of law is sacrosanct here but not sacrosanct there. The rule of law must always be ultimately subservient to the rule of conscience.
So, to all members of government: remember your role. You are there to serve us; you are not there to usurp us.