1996-12-10 - Re: PICS is not censorship

Header Data

From: “Thaddeus J. Beier” <thad@hammerhead.com>
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Message Hash: 0ee4980998b79b73eb5ded9be04a8577fc9355a299407f3dce753429d6806752
Message ID: <32AD8E70.41C6@hammerhead.com>
Reply To: <v03007807aed2edd5da77@[]>
UTC Datetime: 1996-12-10 16:21:29 UTC
Raw Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 08:21:29 -0800 (PST)

Raw message

From: "Thaddeus J. Beier" <thad@hammerhead.com>
Date: Tue, 10 Dec 1996 08:21:29 -0800 (PST)
To: cypherpunks@toad.com
Subject: Re: PICS is not censorship
In-Reply-To: <v03007807aed2edd5da77@[]>
Message-ID: <32AD8E70.41C6@hammerhead.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Timothy C. May wrote:

> If it's only a contract, and forever only a contract, then I am less
> worried. But my point is that I fear the purely contractual status will not
> last.

I completely agree, if the labels, and their format, are mandated, then
it is
a bad thing.

> (And, as I think it was Lucky Green who pointed out, what is to stop people
> who have _not_ entered into any contract with one of the (several?) PICS
> agencies from simply claiming a rating? If the PICS folks want to set up a
> system for digital signatures, compliance testing, etc., fine...so long as
> non-customers don't have to pay for it. Let the Hallelujah Brigade and the
> Dervishes subsidize their systems.)

'zactly.  Signatures are pretty easy, and DSS is free.  Compliance
I'm not so sure about.  They should be able to finance the whole project
suing label forgers :-)

> Doubful. I contend that any such approach is bound to fail.
> Suppose I describe a picture of adults having sex as "A joyful experience,"
> or "Children need to look at this!"?
> There simply is no "factual" description of a page. Every person will have
> their own descriptions. Mandating that words be "true" is the end of free
> speech as we know it.

You can label it however you want, Tim.  But, most browsers won't
recognize these
ad-hoc labels, and many people will be blocked from your page.  Which is
fine, those people
have chosen to not see pages that aren't labeled in a way that they
understand, and
that is as it should be.
> Fraud? What happened to free speech? The assumption that there even exist
> "factual descriptions" (and presumably "false descriptions") is an
> incredibly pernicious idea, at least as regards free speech.

Again, the only fraud I would recognize would be if you created a label
that used
the trademark of a labeling company.  I completely agree that you should
be allowed
to describe your page in any way you want, or not at all.

> Of course, the most correct and consistent view is to just leave it for a
> market solution: some label, some don't, some label carelessly, some label
> anally [no content is implied! :-}), some label deceptively, some label
> clearly, and so on.

That's a really 
> Again, my concern is not that some bunch of folks initiate a PICS or SICS
> or LIKS system, but that it the legal system gets involved...I surmise that
> many lawmakers are already talking about this--this came up in connection
> with the CDA case, that a labelling system such as PICS could resolve some
> of the issues....I hardly expect that a fully voluntary system would meet
> the demands of the censors.

We'll just have to see about this, won't we.  I'm betting that it will
I think that you'll be able to set up your browser very easily to
restrict it
to only see the 5% of the pages that happen to be rated (these will be,
from the big companies like Discover, Microsoft, McDonalds, and so on)
and these companies
will pressure the government to declare the problem solved, as the kids
will be funneled to their sites.

-- Thaddeus Beier                     thad@hammerhead.com
   Visual Effects Supervisor                408) 287-6770
   Hammerhead Productions  http://www.got.net/people/thad