General Question

flo's avatar

What country is the closest to getting the content of the internet right without getting the free speech part wrong?

Asked by flo (13313points) March 11th, 2016

That is, which countries have in place whatever is needed to keep all the sites that are unfit for consumption whether it’s for kids or adults. In western countries individuals have to work hard to keep those sites porn, hate crime, terrorist propoganda, away. So, in which country do you as an individual or company have to work least hard (energy wise time wise money wise)?

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11 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

whichever country has zero restrictions.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

The Vatican?

jerv's avatar


It’s impossible because we all have different definitions of “unfit for consumption”. Some people would call Trump’s campaign platform a hate crime. Others would call a woman with her face uncovered “pornographic”. Some places have some interesting ideas of what is considered “subversive”. Hell, there are some within our own country that consider anything other than theocratic anarcho-capitalism to be High Treason.

As disappointing as it is, I would say that the US is among the closest simply because freedom of speech is part of our nation’s constitution. Any place that has a more sanitary internet that what we have here usually has enough restrictions to not qualify as “free speech”. Yet many would (and do) argue that even we are unfree due to censorship or monitoring. Reporters Without Borders lists the US as an “Enemy of the internet” due to it’s pervasive surveillance while things like the DCMA and attempts at SOPA, PIPA, and related legislature are taken by some as an affront to not only our constitutional rights, but our human rights as well.

Now, if you want places where it takes the least effort for an end-user to avoid exposure to “unfit for consumption” content, you’re talking places like Iran, China and the Middle East that give fewer-than-zero shits about free speech. The internet is nice and safe there.

Freedom is a double-edged sword. You can’t have freedom and restrictions; it’s either/or. Either you have freedom of speech or you deprive others of it for your own comfort. You can’t have a free internet without risking someone having an opinion you find offensive, and you can’t restrict the internet without taking away someone else’s freedom.

You may be interested in what Freedom House has to say about how restrictive the internet is around the world.

@ragingloli Iceland.

flo's avatar

@jerv I’m against ending the comments section from news articles in the name of a lot of those comments are so nasty How about you? I remember someone debating me about that.

jerv's avatar

Well, @flo, that’s where it gets complicated. Where is “The Internet”? How do you draw borders of jurisdiction? Where does private property end and public property begin in a place where “property” doesn’t physically exist?

Society has yet to really address that in any agreed-upon manner, either in actual laws or the courtroom of public opinion, and whether on a national scale or an international one. We’ve tried pretty hard, but all we really have to show for it is a people with big stacks of legislature that clash with other people’s big stacks of legislature while the regular people, the ones who don’t make the laws but who still have rules about morality, fight among themselves over the definitions of what is “right” and what is “wrong”.

My own opinion about how to balance the First Amendment right to free speech against the rights of a website to govern their own server as they see fit basically boils down to “sysadmins can’t pick and choose”; either everyone gets a voice or nobody does. I feel that that is the fairest and most just way to handle the comments issue (Except, of course, in cases where the posted comment breaks other laws like threats or kiddy porn, but we already had laws about that sort of stuff before the Internet became a thing.).

flo's avatar

@jerv “that’s where it gets complicated” It’s not complicated. Take the opposite position like any lawyer can.

jerv's avatar

@flo I have taken both sides, and arrived at the conclusion that the law is in flux enough that any case law is generally specific enough to not serve as an overall legal precedent, and often is directly opposed by similar cases that had the opposite ruling.

Regarding the comments section, someone who owns a website does have the legal right to impose whatever Rules of Conduct they wish upon their site as it’s (kind of) private property except when said rules of conduct conflict with local/state/federal law. But the fact that websites are open to the general public means that websites are not private “property” despite what I just said in the previous sentence!

And that is where we go down the rabbit hole. Discrimination is illegal… except when it’s legal. Seeking redress of grievances is a right while inciting violence is a felony. The internet is public land except where it’s private. And the last one gets really interesting when you get into trying to draw the border.

I might feel a bit differently if not for things like the FBI trying to force Apple to unlock every iPhone in the world and being stupid enough to think that “it’s only one phone…. and a few hundred more”; another case on where the limits of privacy are in the digital realm, and one that hasn’t been settled yet.

But even if that one were settled, it would be of only tangential relevance to comment sections on websites. The only reason it’s relevant at all is that it determines the extent to which a computer owner can control access to their data, whether that computer be a server hosting a website or a smartphone.

flo's avatar

@jerv I hope you can see how this the thread, not just the OP responds to your posts.

jerv's avatar

To borrow @ARE_you_kidding_me’s words:

”[A]pparently I am handicapped in this discussion by the need to make sense… If ideology ruled decision making and not hard science, facts and consequences then we would still be in the dark ages or possibly extinct.”

That seems more relevant to this thread than I would like.

flo's avatar

@jerv Edied to add: You are demonstrating (without meaning to) that that science is far from helpful, that it leads to the dark ages or to extinction.

flo's avatar

….But of course it’s not scinece that’s unhelpful.

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