Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet

Geography, Laws, and the Internet 217

Posted by michael
from the making-up-rules-as-we-go-along dept.
Sara Chan writes: "This week's edition of The Economist has the cover story and lead editorial devoted to how geography affects the Internet after all. The whole of China is basically firewalled. In France, Yahoo! is appealing the court ruling that banned its selling Nazi memorabilia. In Iran, ISPs are required to block immoral sites. Each country wants to impose its own laws on others, of course without reciprocation. The editorial concludes thus: "The likely outcome is that, like shipping and aviation, the Internet will be subject to a patchwork of overlapping regulations, with local laws that respect local sensibilities, supplemented by higher-level rules governing cross-border transactions and international standards." Not all new, but worth pondering."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Geography, Laws, and the Internet

Comments Filter:
  • by gosand (234100) on Friday August 10, 2001 @09:00AM (#2109695)
    With all of the other atrocities that governments do (including the US Gov) people get upset about them limiting or filtering electronic content?

    What, now that someone in China may not be able to bid on your collection of Playboys on eBay, it is time to stand up?

    Puh-lease. Rape, spy, kill, cheat, lie, steal, oppress - but don't limit our internet access! I know, the internet should be free, but a lot of things "should" be. Let's get everyone some food, shelter, and safe living conditions before we worry about whether they can ride the information superhighway. (haven't heard that term in a LONG time) :-)

    ///Michael

    www.poundingsand.com [poundingsand.com] - Tshirt designs - check out Micropoly!

    • Rape, spy, kill, cheat, lie, steal, oppress - but don't limit our internet access!

      I would agree, but information is not trivial. As I recall, the Vietnam War became unpopular (and was eventually ended) largely because news coverage and stories coming back from the vets. I work with two of 'em, and it's really startling how savage things were over there, and how out of control. Thought control is mostly the control of what goes in to the brains of your populace. And it's controlling what they can communicate to the outside. Losing that level of control would be devestating for dictators of all stripes. That seems to be why the Taliban has banned floppy disks, and all other manner of things, and why China filters, and why the gov^H^H^Hcorporations of the US so heavily filter such things as job boards and fucked-company type sites (as well as porn).

      The Internet offers a powerful means of allowing those ideas to spread all over the place, and because it can escape, from time to time, the jurisdiction of governments, it allows us to realize that the government only controls us because we permit it. I think the reaction of the legions of independently minded programmers of the world to increasing geographic controls of the internet will be more distributed peer-to-peer type applications, which might allow dangerous ideas to cross borders once again.

    • This is about the freedom to know. The idea is that people everywhere should have easy access to free sources of information. I, and many others, believe that this is one of the most important rights that a person can have. It is probably even reasonable to argue that if you've lost that right, you don't have--or at least won't have, someday--any others.

      Sure, some of the information will be bit-mapped images of Playboy centerfolds. So what? Some of that information might also be on how your government is actually treating you.

      When the despotic Romanian government was being overthrown a few years ago, it was information from the BBC World Service (IIRC) that helped people know what was going on. Such information was crucial to success. There are countless other examples. The internet is the best thing to happen to freedom of information in the history of humanity. We need to fight to keep it that way.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This sort of filtering doesn't merely apply to bidding on nazi stuff or seeing /. from China. One of the ways that oppressive powers retain control is by limiting or distorting the availability of information to those under their influence. A friend of mine grew up in a communist state, and he told me that as a young man he'd always imagined the beleaguered citizens of the U.S. wandering around under gray skies feeling sad that they lived under capitalism. Capitalist newspapers, books, broadcasts, were all filtered out of his society's media: they had no way of being aware what their lives might have been if things were different. How he's got the internet, and he can can see, if he wants to, all the amazing things that go on in lots of different places. He thinks that if more citizens in his country had been able to see that their expectations and beliefs about what a human life could be were baseless, the revolutions would have happened sooner. I've never heard of any world political figure starving to death, even ones from countries where famine is rampant. Now in my life, yes, the internet is mostly used for liesure and commerce, but maybe for others it could the the medium for the sorts of social changes that would bring food, shelter, and safe living conditions. But for the internet to facilitate these phenomena, it must not be filtered.
  • The internet is being Balkanized as nations reassert hegemony and as virtual nations (large corporations) extend their control over the communications networks.

    I hope you enjoyed the last half of the '90s because it may never happen again.

    There are two extremes and one middle road in controlling the Net.

    One extreme end of the spectrum can be seen in the Taliban, who are tearing down their infrastructure and returning to a midieval level of existence.

    The other extreme can be seen in China which is modernizing its infrastructure but increasing its control over access. In effect firewalling the country and stonewalling the internet cafes.

    Either of these methods are done at tremendous cost to their citizenry. Its not that they don't care, its that they care about keeping control more. In Afghanistan, its cheap. In China its not as cheap but there are only a few key poi9nts that have to be controlled.

    The middle road is making lawyers rich in every second and first world country by trying to apply technological solutions (with results ranging from poor to execrable,) to enforce nationalism and censorship.

    The problem is that civilization (key word civil) doesn't scale up well to the larger aggregate of nation states.

    Bejing was fine under emperor Chin but it quickly degenerated into an insular court culture. Germany was okay until the reunification which preceeded and then almost inevitably led to two world wars.

    Early history in Greece is the story of city states.

    The renaissance in Europe happened in and because of city states.

    The story of money starts in Amsterdam and is still concentrated in and around a few mercantile exachanges. This leads to certain very large accumulations of wealth on localized centres which almost behave in a civilized manner.

    Civilization is a local phenomenon. There are millions of dead and millions more dying because it doesn't scale well.

    We'd do well to remember that and try more localized approaches.
    • "The internet is being Balkanized..."
      That is true, but I think the major reason for this has more to do with "identity" (maybe better "national identity") than firewalling or filtering unacceptable external sites.

      Computing and the internet, more than anything else, have led to English becoming the lingua franca (irony intended);
      Language, the most obvious identifier for a culture, is the main reason why many governments want to change or control the internet; (I know there are exceptions, such as China/Afghanistan and a few others). If I am Chinese, or Greek, or Russian, why can't I have my web address in Chinese, Greek or Russian? This alone identifies the internet with Western culture (.biz, .kids anyone?) which is not acceptable to many in some contries. This is what makes all external influences (external websites, such as Yahoo in France) unacceptable.
      I think, until this imbalace is addressed, the Internet will allways be a target for restrictions.
  • See http://www.gipiproject.org [gipiproject.org] for an initiative by netizens on this topic.
    I had proposed a Internet Legal Task Force (ILTF)in a mailing list discussion. GIPI could very well be the solution for this.
  • Some of the best writing on the impact of the internet and geography comes from Frances Cairncross' (Financial Times) "The Death of Distance" and Thomas Friedman's (NY Times) "The Lexus and the Olive Tree." Both of them are more boosters of the net than this Economist perspective, but it's clear that net technology has significantly impacted geography in many unexpected ways.
  • Geographic Routing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CrazyBrett (233858) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:53AM (#2115765)
    I've been contemplating an idea for a routing protocol based on geographic location.

    Right now, our notion of the "destination" of a packet is based on IP addresses, which are somewhat arbitrarily chosen and have little relationship with the physical location of the target machine. To make this work, we've needed to employ complex routing tables and algortihms with relatively large upkeep and administration requirements.

    As the 'net becomes more strongly connected, there will be even more paths for packets to take, and it seems logical to try and simplify routing. If the "address" of a machine were derived from its physical geographic location, then packets could be routed simply by "sending them in that general direction". Instead of complex routing tables, routers would only need to know their relative geographic location in order to send packets toward the target. Conventional routing methods could be used on a local scale to calculate the final hop or two for the packet.

    Needless to say, this method would trivialize the problems posed in the article as well.

  • IIRC, the original Great Wall was a bust because the Mongol Horde bribed the guards at the guard towers along the Wall. Between corruption and simple bureaucratic incompetence, how hard can it be for someone to circumvent government controls?

  • by doctor_oktagon (157579) on Friday August 10, 2001 @09:41AM (#2116156)
    I'm sorry, but I was working in China for 3 weeks last month on a job for a large oil company.

    This company gets it's international bandwidth from a global supplier, and this also provides internet and e-mail access.

    This means Chinese employees in the firm can surf the Intranet using the corporate intranet connection, and thus completely bypass any state-controls governing usage.

    And for the paranoid out there, the bandwidth is provided over a cable laid from Shanghai by MCI WorldCOM. I have used the link extensively, and I found no evidence it is either tapped, filtered, or monitored.

    I also used various alleged-illegal crypto products over it, and I never got a knock on my hotel-room door at 3am to tell me to stop.

    You CANNOT firewall a country. There are always ways and means, and in practical terms the effort to do so is too high. Just because Chinese cyber-cafe's are monitored does not emply everything else actually is.
    • Data in and out of .CN is most definitely going through a semi-transparent proxying firewall. We've seen it here with our own eyes.

      We have servers in Beijing that send e-mail to US employees. The user account they send from is <watchdog@DOMAIN> because they're doing system monitoring (they're the WATCHDOGs, get it?)

      Anyhow, ANY mail they send to the US bounces. But here's the cool part, it bounces back to the sender (watchdog) but when that (as an alias) gets forwarded to the US again, it goes through, probably because of the null-sender envelope on the bounce.

      We know that its some active proxying mechanism that's intercepting the messages because the bounce message is something that the MX's in the US can't possibly generate (e.g., we have the source code for the MTA and the string that the "remote side allegedly sent" to cause the bounce doesn't exist).

      So, yes, despite your anecdotal "evidence" of there not being any firewalling mechanism, there most assuredly is one, and it plays havoc with my mail on a daily basis.

  • The Great Wall (Score:1, Redundant)

    by GroovBird (209391)
    The Great Firewall of China, the only firewall so big you can actually see it from the Space Shuttle.

  • by Dr_Cheeks (110261) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:52AM (#2117491) Homepage Journal
    The problem with the internet is that where you're located isn't necessarily anywhere near the same jurisdiction as the site that you're visiting. Physical borders become considerably more tenuous when it's as easy (pretty much) to view a site hosted a mile away as it is to view one on the other side of the world.

    For an example I don't have to look very far; my site has a .uk domain, but it's actually hosted in Norway (even though I'm actually based in the U.K.). Now suppose I slander someone from China on my site - which legislation does it fall under? It's time to face up to the fact that the internet is a global system, and is difficult to regulate nationally.

  • China is firewalled (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:37AM (#2117837)
    I live in China, and the firewall is *very* obvious.

    Some days, I try to get through to slashdot but I get a "Access to this page is denied" error on my screen.

    Most people don't realise the extent of the firewall. 90% of the time, if I send an email to another country it doesn't arrive at the destination.

    One time I even had an email message changed - I was simply stating that I was feeling a bit unhappy due to lack of money, and it changed to I was feeling unwell, but *because* of all the money flowing around the place I *was* happy.

    Be thankfull for what you have !
    • funny i had no problems when i was in beijing for a spell, nor does my friend who lives there. no sites blocked, no mails changed.

      maybe they just don't like you ;)

    • According to my logs, CodeRed can still make it through the firewall. How about censoring that? ;-)
    • by Xoro (201854) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:56AM (#2130004)

      I live in China, and the firewall is *very* obvious

      I hear you can even see it from outer space.

    • by Bryan Ischo (893) on Friday August 10, 2001 @10:15AM (#2130041) Homepage
      That is a complete and utter fabrication. I have been living in China for seven months now, using China's public internet service the whole time, and have never experienced the above.

      Yes, China does filter out sites, but that is the extent of it. I have never received any "access denied" error when visiting Slashdot, and I visit it every day, from Beijing no less, where the Communist Party's dictums are most readily observed.

      True, China's connection to the outside world is slow and unreliable at times, but that's not selective by site - it's just poor network infrastructure.

      Please don't spread FUD about China ... there is alot of it here already, and you're not helping clear things up for anyone. Americans who know little about China will jump at the chance to believe anything negative about this country, and you are just giving them more ammunition.

      My own personal opinion is that China's filtering policy is lame and misguided, but hey, this is their country, they can do what they want with it.
      • True, China's connection to the outside world is slow and unreliable at times, but that's not selective by site - it's just poor network infrastructure.

        Thank God there is someone else here to lend weight to the impression I formed myself while visiting!

        As to the quality of the network infrastructure, in reality China has a fantastic telecoms network in the cities, as most of the phone lines are extremely new. I realise it will be a very different afair out in the sticks, but in comparison to the UK for example, in China it's much easier to get a good, clean dialup connection.
        • Hm, my experience has been different. The Chinese internet cafes often have very good access, but dialup is often very poor. At first I was using the state-owned internet service - you just dial 263 from any phone, and you get a PPP connection with username 263 and password 263, and your usage is charged per minute to your phone bill. But this is amazingly expensive - it was costing me about $100/month and that's a small fortune in China! It is possible to buy internet dialup cards, which give you a username and password which expire after 3 months. That's what I'm using now, and the service is godawful bad at times, but it is much less expensive. Most of the Chinese that I have met who use the internet (almost entirely under 30 years old, almost nobody over that age seems to use the 'net here) don't use it from home due to the expense and poor quality. They go to internet cafes.
    • by tbo (35008) on Friday August 10, 2001 @11:25AM (#2134756) Journal
      I think Canada must be firewalled, too. Every time I try to go to a page linked from Slashdot, I get a "server busy" error. Must be a conspiracy...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It is erroneous to say that the whole of China is firewalled. Only Red China (Mainland China) is firewalled. The democratic Republic of China (Taiwan) is not firewalled.

    There are at this time two Chinas.

  • What will happen is an increasing distance between laws that say what people shouldn't do and what people actually do. Any "firewall" that allows some form of two-way traffic can be circumvented. Any content filter can be circumvented by encryption. Any IP address filter (geographic or otherwise) can be circumvented by intermediaries (e.g., proxy servers). If you are really determined to filter, then you get an escalation of filter and circumvention complexity, but again, any two-way communication can be exploited. Anybody involved with circumvention had better watch out where they travel to.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Amazes me that in this year of 2001, the population of earth is being subjected to forcible control over what they choose to expose their own minds to. Life is too short for this sort of abuse.

    Barbarism seems to doggedly stay with us, regardless of the growth of physical technology.

  • If you want to see a graphic demonstration of how closely the Internet is intertwined with the physical world, just watch what happens when there's a fire at a place like the MCI pop in Downers Grove. That was a real mess from a network engineering point of view. The point is that the the Internet is, and always has been, highy centralized at the physical level because there simply are not that many backbone providers. In the US these backbones are controled by a small number of companies and in other places they might be controled by the government. But, the fact of life is that, ultimately, in any country, the Internet is controled by a very small group of entities, many of which operate without public representation. Right now much of the world likes the notion of a free Internet, and most companies don't care go what goes across their backbone as long as they get paid, but that could change.

  • by boaworm (180781) <boaworm@gmail.com> on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:30AM (#2121400) Homepage Journal
    I dont think there's any real need to worry about this yet. The Internet is a very new fenomena compared to many other media we have, say newspapers, books, tv etc. Things does get better with age, and the Internet will probably selfadjust to a suitable level.
    What I mean is.. there's no need to panic because some things are not they way they should just now. Criticism on the internet often referes to bad/unsuitable things published to the masses.

    As an example, today in a large swedish online newspaper, a reporter found a huge "scoop". He found out that one of the Universities of sweden was providing computer resources to swedish nazists. After a bit of research, it came out that the university was running an Irc-server (dalnet) where the nazis held "online-meetings".

    Noone would consider it a scoop that a bunch of criminals phoned each other over the telephone network, or that they sent snailmail.

    The Internet will get integrated into our everyday routines, and its use will get balanced to what it's good for.

    And where's the problem with china being firewalled, isn't that all up to them ? I bet there are firewalls protecting western world internet resources against china as well...

    • As an example, today in a large swedish online newspaper, a reporter found a huge "scoop". He found out that one of the Universities of sweden was providing computer resources to swedish nazists. After a bit of research, it came out that the university was running an Irc-server (dalnet) where the nazis held "online-meetings".
      Noone would consider it a scoop that a bunch of criminals phoned each other over the telephone network, or that they sent snailmail.


      Or if they were meeting in person. Similarly a huge fuss is made about information available "on the Internet" which probably came out a public library in the first place.
      Also consider what would happen if a mail order company in the US were to be selling things outside the US... Or for that matter a mail order company outside the US selling something not legal in the US to customers in the US.
  • by truthsearch (249536) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:31AM (#2121613) Homepage Journal
    In the US, the corporations are trying to impose regulations to get maximum profit, while the government (for now) has mostly stayed out of it because of respect for free speech. Outside the US, where speech is not so free, governments will try to regulate in accordance with their countries beliefs. I hardly think this can be compared to shipping and aviation.

    Regarding the cover story, the hinderences caused by distance will (like everything in the computer field) be overcome by technology. Data traveling from PC to server and back at the speed of light can have very little difference in travel time when the computers are next to each other compared to opposite sides of the planet. Of course we're far from this (optics direct to the computer, instant switching, etc.), but we'll get there, just like everything else. We'll look back and laugh at cover stories like this in the decades to come.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Outside the US, where speech is not so free, governments will try to regulate in accordance with their countries beliefs

      Excuse me ?

      Which country is Skylarov from ?

      Which country was he arrested in ?

      America. Where the people are not only stupid enough to be led by the nose, but they're stupid enough to not even realise it.

    • Outside the US, where speech is not so free,

      This is fundermentally incorrect, the US does not have a monoploy on "free speach". Indeed there are parts of the world where some speach even appears to be more free than in the US.
      In the case of computer software (which US courts have defined as "speach") this would be most of the planet.
    • In the US, the corporations are trying to impose regulations to get maximum profit, while the government (for now) has mostly stayed out of it because of respect for free speech. Outside the US, where speech is not so free, governments will try to regulate in accordance with their countries beliefs. I hardly think this can be compared to shipping and aviation.

      This comes from a person who must not be in the US, or is oblivious to the laws... If you haven't noticed, the DMCA was passed, check out CALEA, and look at the legislation that the US tried to pass the Clipper Chip. Recently our government has done a lot to restrict our 1st Amendment Rights to Free Speach and Expression. I think most of the US Government needs to re-read the first, fourth and nineth, amendment. Further, they need to take their hands out of the industry's pocket and start paying attention to the people they represent.

      I don't see how anyone can say that the DMCA's restrictions on fair use is anything but the corporations getting legislation passed to maximize profits.
      • Recently our government has done a lot to restrict our 1st Amendment Rights to Free Speach and Expression. I think most of the US Government needs to re-read the first, fourth and nineth, amendment.

        You missed the 10th, 14th (though "hate crime" laws might be well intentioned they weaken the basic concept of equality before the law) as well as the IP clause in the unammended document.

        Further, they need to take their hands out of the industry's pocket and start paying attention to the people they represent.

        Which they just arn't going to do unless they are forced into the position of having to do that. If necessary through application of the second ammendment. Problem is with this kind of situation that most people are unlikely to see that there is a problem, until it wacks them, by which time they are powerless to do anything about it.

        I don't see how anyone can say that the DMCA's restrictions on fair use is anything but the corporations getting legislation passed to maximize profits.

        If that wasn't the intention you'd expect the law to be behind something like DeCSS... In both cases where "circumvention devices" are involved the "device" is a copyright protected piece of software.
    • (...)Outside the US, where speech is not so free, governments(...)

      I know that /. is basically US-centric, and that we foreings are just foreings. But if you say something like this it sounds like you are including all other countries, and this is not good (as well it's not true). And to tell the truth, I always see things like this in /.

      I prefer to believe that you didn't mean that, and I'd like to hear that for you americans I am misunderstanding the whole thing. But, please, this phrase sounds very offensive to me, and I'm sure it sound offensive for every non-americans.

      The point is, here we have full free-speech, of course that we need to respect children and ladies, and the good manners, but we can basically speak whatever we want. Of course everbody also have the right to dislike it (it sounds pretty like US and many other countries)

      But we don't have DMCA or Napster-like process. But we also have problems with big corporations trying to change the laws in a way that they can make more and more profit.

      IMHO, world is not ruled by people and/or presidents. World is ruled by money, wherever you go, monarchy or not, democratic or not, with or without free-speech, the money will rule the world.

      Sad but TRUE


      offtopic: have anybody put this kind of poll? something like: "Where are you from?"

  • Why doesn't one of you clever boffins just invent me a network protocol with a strong anonymity system.

    Packets have to know where they've going, do they absolutly have to know where they are from?

    Give me a network full of sourceless traffic and let them try and regulate that.. If that doesn't work, put uplinkable routers in orbit..
  • As we have seen time and time again, retrictions on any computer system are not foolproof. Inevitably, any restrictions placed on Internet content by other countries must be implemented by software or hardware. People in those locations will find ways around or ways to defeat blocking technologies.

    This ultimately means that although global access to any information on the Internet may be slowed, it will not be completely eliminated. Censorship efforts like these will certainly claim victims along the way, but are ultimately doomed to failure.

    • That there are ways around things is obvious.

      The DMCA and CSS don't even slow down pirates, They make faithful bit copies right down to the FBI warning on the material they're duping.

      But its not them the DMCA and CSS are after. Its you and your money and odds are you don't know enough to build yourself the hardware or write the software to get around the protection rack.., uh, schemes. (Or they want to nail your ass if you aren' smart enough to shut up about it.)

      The criminals and the people in the power structure who hire them, will always have access. They just want to restrict YOUR access.

      In the city-states of ancient Greece, it was knowledge of the dodecahedron that was considered too dangerous for the common man.

      In the commerce-states of RIAA and MPAA its this week's top grosser that has to be protected from the common man, unless he paid admission.

      They're both deluded. Information is a perishable comodity. If you wait, you'll get it for free and you'll realize that it was worth what you just paid.
  • http://www.eff.org/Publications/John_Perry_Barlow/ barlow_0296.declaration

    or click here [eff.org].

  • Akamai's network can help to smooth out huge fluctuations in traffic. A further benefit is that the customer's web server does not have to deliver the heavy items, which reduces the load on it dramatically and makes it less likely to collapse when faced with a sudden surge of visitors.

    In other wordrs, Akamai has almost finished developing a complete defense against our strongest tactical weapon, the Slashdot effect. They must be stopped at all costs.
  • by freeweed (309734) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:40AM (#2128731)
    Anyone else ever wonder about the little blurb when you try to download the 128-bit encryption for IE?

    The Windows 2000 High Encryption Pack is eligible for export from the U.S. to all customers worldwide, except to US embargoed destinations. Please see http://www.microsoft.com/exporting/ for details. Other countries may exercise separate jurisdiction over the import, export or use of encryption products. Users who download this product should observe any local regulations that may apply to the distribution or use of encryption products.

    I've always wondered just how they seem to think this is enforcable .. I guess the cuban tld is firewalled over at Redmond? :)

    • Mozilla has a similar blurb on their releases [mozilla.org] page. But they don't give you the option of downloading binaries without crypto, and you don't even see the blurb if you opt to download a nightly build instead of a release build. I can't imagine someone in an embargoed country downloading and building from source just to avoid breaking a US law.

      The strange thing is that the default build options don't include crypto. I found this out when I copied someone else's build script, which included the BUILD_PSM2 (build with crypto) option, and then tried to build Mozilla. It turned out that I had to install an extra program in order to make the PSM2 build work. (Why don't they link to the how to build Mozilla with crpyto [mozilla.org] page from the how to build Mozilla on Windows [mozilla.org] page?)
  • That's fine.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by baptiste (256004) <mike@baptiste.CHEETAHus minus cat> on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:30AM (#2135012) Homepage Journal
    I figure if a country wants to firewall itself - fine that's their problem (and their citizens) But France's attitude is a dsigrace. If they don't want their citizens to see stuff - then its up to them to filter it, not Yahoo's. I'm all for the having a web site be subject to the laws of the land where it is LOCATED. If its farmed into differnet countries, then all those laws will apply and the company has to deal with teh overlap. Proxies and cache don't count.

    We all have our problems. But in this case, its easy - you don't want your citizens to see something? Its up to you to restrict them and deal with teh consequences like being voted out of office (if your citizens have that right.

    Yes in an ideal world everything would be free and all would be free to see it - but that just isn't gonna happen. Sure, we can bitch about China firewalling and filtering everything - but that's life in a communist country.

    Yes, I'm American so I can take this stance since my net use is pretty much wide open unless the FBI has a bad day [disgraced.org], but beyond that, as long as some other country doesn't try to stick their noses into an American companies business (yeah right) I'm happy :)

    • and it is accessible to US citizens? Guess what the US government would do?

      Disclaimer: I'm not a supporter of child porn ! I figure if a country wants to firewall itself - fine that's their problem (and their citizens) But France's attitude is a dsigrace. If they don't want their citizens to see stuff - then its up to them to filter it, not Yahoo's. I'm all for the having a web site be subject to the laws of the land where it is LOCATED. If its farmed into differnet countries, then all those laws will apply and the company has to deal with teh overlap. Proxies and cache don't count. We all have our problems. But in this case, its easy - you don't want your citizens to see something? Its up to you to restrict them and deal with teh consequences like being voted out of office (if your citizens have that right.

      Yes in an ideal world everything would be free and all would be free to see it - but that just isn't gonna happen. Sure, we can bitch about China firewalling and filtering everything - but that's life in a communist country.

      Yes, I'm American so I can take this stance since my net use is pretty much wide open unless the FBI has a bad day, but beyond that, as long as some other country doesn't try to stick their noses into an American companies business (yeah right) I'm happy :)

      According to your logic, it's up to the US government to filter out those sites. The fact is, the people who run the site will probably be in an american jail very soon, and the country where the server is will be in trouble too (since only the US has the muscle to force most smaller countries).

      Just ask Dmitri what happened to him. The US didn't like what he did, all you have to do is to filter out his site for all Americans. And why is he in a US jail then?

    • Citizen Blind (Score:2, Insightful)

      Quote: If they don't want their citizens to see stuff - then its up to them to filter it

      I must take an aside here and mention that in the US, if 'they' don't want you to see stuff they just don't report it.
      I'm going to give you a couple of links to a web site that has forced me to admit that I knew nothing about the world. The site is the World Socialist Web Site [wsws.org]. These people have an agenda, which I find quite refreshing because once you get used to it you can quite easily learn to look past it to read the quality news and analysis beneath. There's nothing worse than the myth of of objectivism, someone who's pretending to be objective is merely hiding their opinions inside the news insidiously. Why are all those WTO protesters violent anarchists? Why can't I find information on CNN [cnn.com] that describes why 150,000 people show up in Genoa? Besides one page [cnn.com] that after reading other opinions elsewhere is just so much of Huxley's soma. Remember many of these people were foreign nationals who spent a non-trivial amount of money to travel there specifically to protest.
      I don't believe myself to be a radical, as some may accuse me. I believe in Democracy, I believe in Capitalism, I don't believe we should all rush out and overthrow our government. The other component of government is values and that is what I read the WSWS for. I'm a Canadian so I readily identify with Socialist values and am naturally open-minded to them.
      As a further aside, what about the US' last elections? This article [wsws.org] talks about the military role is those elections and is based primarily on an article written by The New York Times [nytimes.com]. If the conclusions in the article are valid (and only you the reader can decide that) then the US has taken a step off of democracy's road and onto the road of authoritarianism.
      I'm afraid of Americans.
      • I'm afraid of Americans.

        Me too and I'm American :) The worst part is most Americans KNOW they are spoon fed and honestly don't seem to care - now THAT is scary.

    • When you offer a worldwide service, your aim is the whole world.

      Yahoo offers its service in France. If they don't like French laws then they shouldn't offer their services to people who live in France. Problem solved. (1 question on registration: Do you live in France? yes/no).

      Analogy 1: if I set up a site in kwikelikwakkie that violates rules set out by the SEC (e.g. public sale of some bogus financial instruments to US citizens) I problably would get arrested upon entry in the US. My assets would get targeted too I guess

      Analogy 2: if I set up a site in Russia circumventing some copy protection, I would get arrested in the US. Next step is to seize property my company owns in the US.

      If you want to offer services worldwide, you should compy with standards worldwide. US standards alone just don't cut it.
      • Re:That's fine.... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bmongar (230600)

        If you want to offer services worldwide, you should compy with standards worldwide.

        That is completely impractical. There are millions of legal entities world wide(countries, states, counties, cities), is it beyond the capability of any business to keep track of them all. If a legal entity doesn't want content, I think it should be up to them to keep it out like China does. Not to require some foregin business to notice that somebody is french.

  • by Reckless Visionary (323969) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:25AM (#2135077)
    Keep in mind, the French were never that great at building impenetrable barriers.
    • Re:Maginot Line (Score:2, Informative)

      by Apogee (134480)
      IIRC from my history lessons, the Maginot line was not penetrated but circumvented. It was pretty solidly built but based on wrong assumptions.

      Kinda like having that big-ass custom firewall set up on your box and then allowing telnet access to its root account, figuring nobody would ever guess the username root...

      • Re:Maginot Line (Score:3, Informative)

        by Keith_Beef (166050)

        The Germans were able to simply drive past the end of the Maginot line by taking a detour around the north, because the French government of the time thought "hey, we can save some money here... we don't need to extend it any further noth because nobody is going to be able to drive through the marshy Ardennes flatland..."

        The penny-pinching government got it wrong. The Germans drove through the Ardennes.

        According to the French, the people have never been defeated by the enemy. They are simply let down by incompetent leaders or are sold-out by traitors.

        The analogy with firewalling an entire country would be that as soon as one [individual|organisation] finds out just where the government-organised "protection" stops, it will be circumvented. And all those nasty outsiders will be ably to flood the region with their [propaganda|pr0n|advertising].

      • Re:Maginot Line (Score:2, Interesting)

        by iamblades (238964)
        Yeah, the germans wen around the maginot line, though the low countries. Still though, it was france's fault for putting too much trust in a defense that didn't even cover the entire border of france...
    • Indeed, I - or rather my boyfriend and I - had terrible trouble with one of their letters...
  • Offshore offense? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by oldave (160729) on Friday August 10, 2001 @09:58AM (#2135213)
    I think the biggest thing we're all waiting for is for someone to break a law in another country, and find themselves arrested and extradited.

    The Skylarov case comes to mind, obviously, but it's slightly different. Mr. Skylarov was accused of breaking US law, and then when he voluntarily entered the US, he was arrested.

    What scares me, and should scare the rest of you, is the possibility of a foreign nation demanding extradition of someone for breaking that nation's laws without ever entering the country physically.

    It is a simple matter to break Singaporean or Chinese law - simply denounce the government. Many other countries have similar laws, and if I should put up a website denouncing the Chinese government, that website would be in violation of the law in China. But I'm not in China, I'm not a Chinese citizen, the website wouldn't be in China.

    That may not matter. China can demand my extradition to China to stand trial. Certainly, today the US wouldn't comply with that demand. But how long until keeping China happy is more important than a single US citizen? China produces a LOT that's exported to the US, and enjoys most favored nation trade status currently. This gives them a certain amount of clout with the US government (admittedly, not enough to extort $1million for an airplane sitting on a runway for 6 weeks or so).

    If you think this can't happen, look to the state of California extending its jurisdiction to anyone in the world (the DeCSS case). I'm afraid this is only the beginning.

    Thanks for taking a moment to listen to my ramblings and consider.
  • by sheck (37769) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:50AM (#2137831) Homepage
    If all the world leaders were trapped on an inflatable life raft, how long would it take before they decided to cut it up and distribute the pieces amongst themselves?

    Sheck
  • Shipping and aviation regulations are imposed at a country's physical borders. They affect only the individuals and businesses who wish to interact with the country itself.

    What France is trying to do to Yahoo, in contrast, will have a globally chilling effect. France is trying to shut down Yahoo's auctions of Nazi-related collectables not at French borders, but on servers thousands of miles away, intended for non-French audiences. If they succeed, Yahoo will no longer be able to offer these auctions anywhere.

    French laws concerning shipping don't affect what goods I can manufacture in the U.S. unless I try to ship those goods into France. By the same token, French censorship of the Internet shouldn't affect what content I can produce in the U.S. Censored content should be stopped at French borders, not at the source.

    To be fair: the U.S. is no better. Our DMCA gets Norwegians and Russians arrested. Our Carnivore will intercept e-mails well beyond our borders. Our patent laws affect software authors and distributors world-wide. The U.S. (and California in particular, it seems) has a rather elastic sense of its jurisdiction, too.

    A country's right to exert control over the Internet ends at the country's borders.

    --Patrick

  • by Fleet Admiral Ackbar (57723) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:23AM (#2142599) Homepage
    When the United States can't be bothered to maintain the pretense of freedom for the Net, (e.g. DMCA, Carnivore, et al) why should other countries?

    We (just meeting the USians here) should be setting an example for freedom, not censorship and control.

    • Geographic restrictions cut both ways.

      Since the US has DMCA, those of outside want geographic walls so that we can sell software and services without worrying that it will be bought be USians (think iCraveTv.com [slashdot.org] and Skylarov).

      Given the current state of affairs in the U.S., other countries should be trying to cut themselves off from you!

    • by seizer (16950) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:43AM (#2137828) Homepage
      That's a bit harsh - the ostensible aims of DMCA and Carnivore are far from nefarious.

      DMCA "aims" (completely unsuccessfully) to ensure copyright can still function profitably (a noble aim, not everybody is motivated to create without an incentive), and Carnivore aims (with more success, but with many more undesirable side effects) to negate the effects of terrorism, the activities of child pornographers, etc etc. There are valid motives behind these things, but somewhere along the line, they got hijacked by combinations of big bizness(TM), stupid senators, and fascistic neo-mccarthyists.

      And as for the US setting an example for freedom, well. I don't think we (non-USians) need to be taught, actually. Freedom is one of those rather instinctive things, and I'm not going to enhance my knowledge of it by reading USA Today (yes, slightly trollish, but I'm pissy about that comment).
      • MCA "aims" to ensure copyright can still function profitably...Carnivore aims to negate the effects of terrorism, the activities of child pornographers, etc etc.

        I'll reply with a saying we have here: "Hell is paved with good intentions".

        Just my $.02

      • ...all I meant was that the United States has long prided itself, rightly (WWII) or wrongly (Bay of Pigs) on being a haven of (pseudo-) democracy and freedom. If we are going to "Talk the talk", we should also "walk the walk". We can't bitch about French laws while we restrict content. We can't complain about China while we arrest Dmitry. Plain and simple.

        To address the second statement, I do not think freedom is an "instinct". The history of civilization has very little freedom in it, and a tremendous amount of subjugation, slavery, misery, and copyright law. Screwing is an "instinct". :)

      • "DMCA "aims" (completely unsuccessfully) to ensure copyright can still function profitably (a noble aim, not everybody is motivated to create without an incentive), and Carnivore aims (with more success, but with many more undesirable side effects) to negate the effects of terrorism, the activities of child pornographers, etc etc. There are valid motives behind these things, but somewhere along the line, they got hijacked by combinations of big bizness(TM), stupid senators, and fascistic neo-mccarthyists."

        No, don't you see? It is exactly those valid motives that makes those laws and technologies so wrong. Then ends do NOT justify the means, my friend. Sure one or two "good hearted" ideas turned bad won't ruin the country, but once started down that slippery slope, there is no going back. Where is the line? When do you say "No, this particular piece of legistaltion is wrong but that one is fine."? The Ministry of Love was all about good motives, you know...

  • by alen (225700) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:44AM (#2152810)
    In 8 years in the Army I've been from Korea, to Saudi Arabia, Africa and Europe. Everywhere we went we were told by our chain of command to respect local laws and customs. I think we need to do that with the Interenet too.

    Americans think porn is OK, in the Middle East you can get hanged for it.

    • true as that is, if someone from one of those countries comes to the US (or a US site) they
      can see port or other offensive material...
      <br>
      also, i would suggest that on the net, they need to respect our right 'to view' as much as we respect their right 'to hang'.

    • There is a fairly large difference between being physically present in another country and someone from another country viewing something that may be contrary to local laws. There is no way to obey the laws (let alone the customs) of every country from which people may view a website.
      In my opinion, web content should be compliant with the laws of the country in which the server that hosts the site is located.

    • In 8 years in the Army I've been from Korea, to Saudi Arabia, Africa and Europe. Everywhere we went we were told by our chain of command to respect local laws and customs. I think we need to do that with the Interenet too.

      I respect the lesson you learned in the Army, but those other cultures need to respect our laws and customs too when we aren't forcing them down their throats. If our customs dictate gigabytes of lesbian porn, so be it.

  • the way i see it (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Johnny5000 (451029)
    The burden of blocking that which is illegal/objectionable/whatever should be on whatever community the content is illegal in. It shouldnt be up to yahoo to ban the sales of 'objectionable' material. If France doesnt like it, France should figure out a way to block it. If nothing else, they should tell the ISPs operating in France to not allow their customers to access yahoo auctions, if they want to continue to operate legally in France.

    That's just one suggestion, I'm sure there are other ways to do it. The point is, no country should have legal jurisdiction over an internet company except where the servers are located.

    Other than that, if the government of a country/state/town/whatever want to keep the people from seeing a certain site, they can figure out a way to block it themselves.

    -J5K

    p.s- I'm not advocating blocking sites or justifying the behavior of governments that censor what its citizens can and cant see. If they're going to censor anyway, they should just do it for their citizens, and leave the rest of the world out of it.

  • by gunner800 (142959) on Friday August 10, 2001 @08:50AM (#2153756) Homepage
    In aviation, it's relatively easy to avoid straying into a given legal jurisdiction. With shipping, a route can be planned ahead of time with known jurisdictions. It's not so simple for the 'net.

    I live in Texas, and operate a website hosted in Florida. Easy enough, two jurisdictions to worry about, both in the same country. But my cable modem service provider is Time Warner; I have no idea where my insidious signals get bounced on their way to Florida.

    And, of course, there's the people who visit the site. I get hits from every continent, and it's been shown that it's not possible to accurately block an entire large geographic block. If some country out there decides to be as arrogant as the US, I'll be obliged to obey the laws of some country I didn't even intend to contact.

    The Economist's story is good, but the conclusion should be restated for brevity: we're hosed.

  • in the us? (Score:2, Insightful)

    we already do that here... just, on a state level. every state wants to control every other state's emails, phone calls, etc. if you do some crimes across the internet , you're going across state lines, blah blah blah, and you're in federal pound me in the ass prison. what's it matter that if i break a law in china, iraq, or anywhere else? they don't export fugitives to us, we don't to them. bah
    • Those Who Believe They Are Free Under Any Form Of Government Are Those Who Are Truely Enslaved -

      And where would society be without goverment?

      The flaws of human nature prevent us from a true utopia.

      Without organization we would get no where.

      Go live in the Amazon if you want to be free.

      I'de rather give up some freedom for a chance to eventually figure out how the universe works. The Native Americans were truly free for thousands of years and they didnt figure out a damn thing, Except how to survive.

One possible reason that things aren't going according to plan is that there never was a plan in the first place.

Working...