Cyber Civil Rights

>> Friday, April 17, 2009

David has already responded to the Cyber Civil Rights piece. Having read the article and the ensuing commentary at Concurring Opinions i want to give my own response.

First, this is not a new topic to me. I first began thinking about the issue of anonymity on the Internet and the major problems it could present when i heard about AutoAdmit. At first i was very much of the opinion that anonymous posting on the internet couldnt have much real world effect. After all, its people on the internet. Who believes what people say about other people on anonymous internet gossip sites? However, after thinking about it extensively and seeing the results of AutoAdmit i have come down in the camp that complete anonymity is too much.

I greatly value the first amendment and the freedom of speech it provides. I generally favor a very broad free speech right. However, i cant manage to bring the ypes of things said in the autoadmit case into any redeeming social value of speech. It truly is hate speech. Its not just hate speech either. Hate speech conducted in the real world exposes the person who does it to censure or other penalties both civil and criminal. Society has drawn a line that says certain types of hate speech that intimidates and deprives minorities of their rights is not protected by the first amendment.

The question i think is whether the Internet needs to develop its own rights. Internet rights as opposed to civil rights. this post by David Fagundes has a brief discussion of the ability of traditional law doctrines to translate to the internet and whether or not internet law is needed. My own opinion is that if we dont need to have such body of law. To date the internet seems to be treated as a separate and plane of existence. We can apply real world law doctrines to the internet but it requires treating the actions on the net as real world actions and not like they are committed in a different world.

It is the separation of the internet from our real world reality that causes the issue. If internet speech and action is treated just as real world speech and action is then the civil rights abuses would be clear. Attacking someone online because they are or are perceived as black would be a hate crime regardless of the fact that it occurred online. Breaking down the separation between online and offline worlds is one of the goals that Cintron is after with the IP logging. Knowing that your IP is logged when you engage in illegal activities will keep people from falling to far into the fantasy land that is the internet.

Some will suggest that we simply make everyone use their real name. I am not a fan of that. I write under a pseudonym because i dont want my politics and political views to interfere with my real world life. I like to be able to give my views without having to censor them out of fear they will come back to bite me in the ass. There is no relevant policy supported by forcing me to use my real name. My work stands on its own.

1 comments:

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