Commentator | 02.01.2003 16:27
|[ Note to Indymedia : This is a format-corrected reposting from yesterday - original was virtually unreadable. Please delete yesterdays version.] |
The Council of Europe has ruled that member states must pass law to criminalise not only the expression of certain views or publishing of certain insults on the internet, but even the "aiding and abetting" of someone else to do so. The thin end of a very wide wedge.
It is true that the views they will repress are views that most of us would think offensive, but I find the wording dangerously wide and an open invitation to governmental abuse, and prosecutions for what is in effect "thought crime".
We already have laws against incitement to racial hatred, of which I wholeheartedly approve, but this goes much much further.
I am talking about the Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime of The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe.
The protocol states (Art 6) that each member state must act to criminalise:
Notice in particular, that while each state (Party) has the right in general to choose which international courts to trust for these purposes, there is one and only one court whose findings every state is compelled to support.
Why must this one court, from long ago, be singled out as the only one which is compulsory ?
But turn nearer to the present. Kosovo for instance. A long history of two racial groups taking alternate turns at being first the perpetrator and then the victim of genocide. Will websites speaking of the suffering of one side be criminalised if they even hint at any justification in previous history? And websites which even carry a link to such sites (aiding and abetting).
And genuine historical reserch websites, which discuss cause and effect. Where is the line between identifying the possible causes of genocidal abuse, and justifying that abuse? Between investigating the historical accuracy of abuse reports and "grossly minimising" them ? Way too much scope for governmental abuse to suppress free speech. Remember, this moves it out of the domain of civil action, defamation etc. This makes it criminal, ie your government can imprison you.
And look what is missing.
My personal view is that true democracy rests on free speech.
I fear the people who rule us are not pleased with the power given to the ordinary people by the internet. We can expect steadily more repressive legislation, of which this is part.
It is of course this same Convention which forces member states to criminalise the ISP who fails to cough up not just the information on your internet traffic, but the ACTUAL CONTENT OF YOUR MESSAGES. Read the main body of the convention. I don't think you'll be very happy.
And no, you nitwits at www.honestreporting.com who are trying to suppress honest reporting, I am not an anti-semite. I am trying to defend free speech and democracy for my children. I am not interested in your racist games. I want you to have free speech too.