Technology May Make Censorship Obsolete
from the one-can-only-hope dept
Under various guises, like public ownership of the airwaves, the government, from time to time, engages in censorship. The famous seven words you can't say on the air proved an irritant to Howard Stern in his early days. Eventually, a new technology (satellite radio) allowed him to broadcast outside the reach of the FCC, and he's now free to say whatever he likes. This week, the WB announced that they would self censor an episode of their racy drama The Bedford Diaries, to avoid the FCC's wrath, but they also announced that the unedited version would be available online. As Adam Thierer argues, technological progress signals the death of government content controls. Conversely, government content controls hasten the death of free broadcast media, as they're an impetus to distribute over new platforms. While this is a great trend, this could also result in a backlash elsewhere -- such as giving the FCC regulatory powers over internet content. Already, some want the FCC to regulate indecency on cable TV. There's no public-ownership excuse there, that's just censorship.