Monday, January 30, 2012

Where are our wise leaders?

Even though this post isn't about our physical health, it's a good analogy for the scenarios unfolding with some restrictive laws worldwide. Bear with me for a few moments while I explain that there is a cost to us not taking an interest in and acting on information about censorship of the internet, and how it's a little like not having a health checkup and acting thoughtfully on any scary results.

As men and women we are advised to regularly have check ups and for a good reason, they can detect problems before they become serious so they can be treated appropriately.

The same as it's wise to understand your personal health issues, it's important for all of us to understand the current issue with censorship (as best we can with the information available). I urge you to be informed and make up our own minds independently of those who have vested interests in filtering information for their own ends. It's not fun, but it is sensible to know what is at stake for our collective and societal health.

Below is a video that gives easy to understand information about internet censorship as currently proposed and/or has been legislated on depending on your country. From what I can understand, those in positions of power appear to have been caught up in the fear mongering about issues like child porn, piracy and terrorism. They appear to have made hasty knee jerk decisions that result in the cure being worse than the disease - apparently most countries already have adequate laws and ACTA is an additional act.
  • Child porn? Yes it's an issue. It won't go away with passing this draconian law. People into child porn will find another way to get their fix. To pretend otherwise is wishful thinking.
  • Piracy? Is it really the issue the big media companies and their mega million dollar industries claim? Not according to specialists in the field. Sensible alternatives to the censorship bills have been suggested.
  • Terrorism? Bad stuff, but have you noticed that terrorists don't seem to worry about laws? They overlook them. Terrorism in one form or another has, unfortunately, been around for millennia. They'll find a way around these censorship laws as well.
The possibility of excessive legislation being used inappropriately and in the interests of big business to gag whistleblowers is huge, and could be a serious threat to our respective democracies.

We need whistle blowers in our society. These people show amazing courage in exploring and shedding light on corruption. We mightn't like what they tell us, but they expose injustice, corporate wrongdoing and coverups. Ultimately society is strengthened as a direct result of their actions. People, groups and communities who share information on social justice issues could be gagged by those with vested interests. That's wrong.  In addition, the bills appear to be unwieldily, cumbersome and staggeringly expensive to implement effectively, fairly and ethically.

These bills can apparently affect free access to all sorts of information from educational material, open political discussion, discussion about the how our food is manufactured and tainted (think of the melamine scandal in China) environment, health, and scientific matters is frightening.

Personally I'm glad there were courageous whistle blowers in China. Companies shouldn't have been lacing milk products with melamine - this is the kind of thing we need to know and be able to share without fear of retribution.

This video is quite long. However it's a very informative presentation of copyright (which sounds impossible, but it's true!) It's easy to listen to and clearly presented. I urge you to listen - the main speaker begins about 10 minutes in.

And if after listening, you decide to take action in the form of signing a petition you can do that here.


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