Columnist Claims Italy's Google Verdict Makes Sense

from the someone-edited-that? dept

Ted Rall is a columnist/cartoonist, who, a couple years ago, wrote one of the most ridiculous opinion pieces we've seen in a long time -- suggesting that the answer to newspapers' current economic woes is that they should all take their websites down. That column was so full of economic and legal ignorance I thought there was a good chance that it was actually satire -- but people insisted he was serious. Now reader Mandy alerts us to a new column from Rall that again is so devoid of basic logic that I wonder if it's satire. This time he's standing way out on a limb arguing that Italy got it right in finding three Google execs criminally liable for a video some kids posted to Google Video.

Rall's reasoning once again defies logic. He seems unable to comprehend the difference between a publisher and a tool or service provider. Instead, he just insists that Google (and any other online service provider) should be forced to carefully review and fact check every piece of content uploaded before it can be available. Apparently, he doesn't quite recognize what he's asking for. On YouTube alone, more than 20 hours of video are uploaded every minute. And that's just YouTube. Rall also suggests that every blog post, every Tweet and every Facebook message should first be reviewed by an editor before it can be posted.

I think this really goes back to Rall's previous clueless column. He can't stand competition, so his solution is to put in place ridiculous free speech destroying rules and regulations to effectively kill off the internet, because someone might misuse it. His argument is based on the scenario that what if he ran a story falsely accusing you of being a drug-addicted child pornographer. He claims -- falsely -- that if he just published it online, there's nothing you can do about it. He later admits he's lying by saying you could sue him, but he brushes that off by saying no one would sue him because he has no money. Of course, people sue for libel all the time -- even those with no money.

But the really scary thing is that Rall seems to think that basically destroying the freedom to communicate and to express yourself online makes sense, just because the tool might possibly be used to spread a false statement. Does he not recognize the unintended consequences of this? Does he not realize that his "suggestion" for fixing the internet is effectively how much of China's internet censorship program works? Does he not think there might be more effective ways of dealing with such situations? For example, if Rall were to falsely accuse you of being a drug-addicted child pornographer, and it's clearly bogus, then you have an opportunity to fight back, and point out that Rall is wrong, destroy his reputation, and make sure he never gets another job again. Why not let free speech combat free speech?

Instead, Rall seems terrified of free speech, and would prefer that it only come from the "professionals" like himself.

Filed Under: communication, editors, filters, free speech, italy, ted rall
Companies: google


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  1. identicon
    known coward, 9 Mar 2010 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: the law applies to everyone, even google

    I do not see how my knowledge or lack thereof of US safe harbor laws has any effect on the instant case. Nor did i mention this being covered by US law. Maybe it is you Mr. Mouse who needs to take reading comprehension lessons.

    This case is in Italy, last I read, Italy was in Europe and not subject to US law, no matter what all the fans of google and those who believe ‘internet uber alles’ desire.

    All I did was applaud the Italians going after the true “criminals” who would be the folks who set this illegal policy, and are therefore responsible for it. If this were a US case the SA’s would be in trouble and not the policy makers. I am pleased the Italians are placing the blame for the illegal activity (in the Italian space) in its proper place.

    If Italian law had safe harbor provisions, yes you all are correct this would be a bad decision. No matter what EU law is, Italian law is different, and google can either go along with it, pull out, or suffer the consequences.

    The internet is NOT above a nations laws, it has to survive within each nations jurisdiction.



    you said:

    And Italy still must comply with EU law, since they are a member state of the EU, which does provide for certain safe harbors. The Italians should be ashamed for not following the laws they agreed to when they joined the EU, and you should maybe educate yourself a bit since this has nothing to do with the US.

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