The Power Of Intermediaries To Silence Speech Online

from the forget-big-brother,-look-out-for-the-corporations dept

While plenty of people worry about the possibility of government censorship online, some are noticing that the real issue isn't with government censorship but the fact that various intermediaries, in the form of service and application providers have the power to make content disappear online -- and they are often being pressured to do so, even if it's perfectly legal. This means that various hosting companies or other services, such as MySpace and Facebook often have tremendous power to hide content that it dislikes (or that someone else convinces them they should take down).

While the really egregious examples of taking down content are often brought to light by people complaining, it is a reminder that you might not really control all the content you think you control. This can be true even if you think you "control" your own domain. If the content is hosted by a service provider, often it can be convinced to pull down your content. While this should lead to more companies who promise not to get involved, there really are only a few who promote themselves that way (and it often gets even more difficult with laws that require "notice and takedown" such as the DMCA in the US). While this might not be a huge problem for most people, it is worth remembering how much power these various intermediaries may have over what you consider to be "your" content.

Filed Under: free speech, intermediaries

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  1. identicon
    Joe, 8 Jul 2008 @ 4:19am

    free speech

    I would sure like to meet the people who agreed that posting a photograph on a website somehow constituted free speech. I would like to meet the people who agreed that "expression" is equal to speech.
    The United States Constitution has been twisted, deformed, mangled, and misquoted for so long now that most Americans have no idea what the bill of rights says anymore.
    We can all thank the ACLU for protecting rights that don't exist by convincing the courts that they do. We can thank the ACLU for not fighting for the rights of those in the minority and only going after high profile cases.
    Posting a photograph is NOT FREE SPEECH! It's POSTING A PHOTOGRAPH!
    Please stop adding things to the bill of rights! Stop changing the definitions! But most of all, stop the damn crying because someone didn't like your stupid ass picture.
    Grow the hell up ya damn sissy!!! (free SPEECH in action)

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