'Pesky freedoms' at risk, on both sides of the pond

Whether you’re State-side or Blighty-bound, your freedom to blog, make satirical memes, and generally do what you do online is under attack

by Andrew Ian Dodge on 15 February 2013 10:39

It seems those pesky freedoms – pesky to politicians that is – like freedom of press and free speech are under attack again. On both sides of the pond, politicians of various political persuasions are doing their best to attack our natural rights.

Here in the UK, for example, Maria Miller is doing her utmost to target a political blogger who she doesn’t much like with a daft and unworkable addition to legislation. The “Press Royal Charter” includes the following section, highlighted by Guido Fawkes, and obviously intended to counter his popular website. (Though it would of course have far greater implications for all British political bloggers were it to go into law.)

“d) a person “publishes in the United Kingdom” if the publication takes place in the United Kingdom or is targeted primarily at an audience in the United Kingdom;”

Needless to say this is legally laughable and would not stand up in court. Short of banning UK citizens from having sites hosted abroad there is no way such a law could work as it would run into conflict with local laws where sites are hosted.

Her colleagues on the American side of the Atlantic are attempting equally daft and unworkable legislation. In Georgia, in America’s Deep South, Rep. Earnest Smith wants to ban ‘photoshopping’ of pictures, claiming, "No one has a right to make fun of anyone." This after his head was ‘photoshopped’ onto the head of a, shall we say, ‘blue’ actor.

There is a thin line between “making fun of” and criticism; one has to wonder if the US Constitution has reached this part of Georgia yet.

Then again intelligence and reason are not strong points of either party in DC these days. Two of Earnest’s colleagues, for example, are trying to revive the reviled Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) in this Congress. It got shot-down in the last Congress after widespread outrage about its attack on our freedoms, so they are trying again, according to Gamepolitics.

“The bill would likely cover any kind of activity you could imagine on the Internet - from information on Facebook activity, email, and instant messaging - to what a particular person is doing on a console game or in a virtual world such as World of Warcraft.”

So, ladies and gentlemen; whether you’re State-side or Blighty-bound, your freedom to blog, make satirical memes, and generally do what you do online is under attack. 

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