Censorship

A public or open index such as the one I outline here needs examination regarding censorship.

If each node is capable of deciding whether to censor something or not, then universal censorship is impossible.

Censorship is applied per node. A node cannot control what another node chooses to censor. The idea is that this should give a level of censorship relative to, and possibly representative of what exists out there in the real world.

Now that’s not really how things are – most of us passively accept (or aren’t aware of) censorship being done on our behalf, and yet in a system of independent and equal nodes, the people behind the nodes need to actively censor.

That’s the same sort of opt-in strategy that gets people pissed off when corporations do it.

Nevertheless, this scheme seems reasonable and democratic, if not justifiable. If each node censors according to the laws and views of the people who maintain it, then no one should be offended, no one should go to jail, and ultimately nothing should be censored – only diminished.

If each node can censor according to its own values, then it can be argued that in sum the Index represents the general attitudes of society, and that things will be more or less as censored as they are in the real world, with nothing completely excluded so long as there is someone who accepts it.

And that’s a problem: if some nodes don’t agree, then objectionable material will ‘leak out’ into the Index.

So if universal censorship is desired, it would be hard or impossible to censor the whole Index.

An uncensored index empowers the individual, and is not necessarily beneficial to the community. It can threaten safety and public standards. Do individuals really have a higher claim to information?

P.S. I’d like to have quoted Jefferson with “Information is the currency of democracy,” but the Jefferson Library (http://www.monticello.org/library/reference/quotes.html) says they can’t attribute it to him. So instead I’ll give you “”Each man is perfectly free in that which does not harm others” (Rousseau quoting Marquis d’Argenson in The Social Contract).

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