Lafayette The notion that whole governments including ostensibly liberal democracies like the United Kingdom would simply throw all pretense about freedom of speech out the window when it comes to social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter, and various instant messaging services proves that all of the freedoms we take for granted are just that, taken for granted and as fragile as an egg shell.
Police and government officials in the UK asked Twitter if they could eliminate this nuisance of using Twitter names that were not real name, so that it would be easier for them to bust people Twitter luckily in this case demurred.
The Blackberry people with Research in Motion in Waterloo, Canada seemed from these reports to be read to fold as easily as a cheap suit to virtually any government request, which was disconcerting since so many of us are (were?) hanging on as Blackberry users and fans. Luckily, I don’t use whatever Blackberry Messenger is, but I found myself reaching out to colleagues in Toronto with ACORN Canada pretty damned quickly after reading about their weak knees to make sure that was the case.
The Iranian government is having a bit of fun with this and offered to send a human rights delegation to London to investigate abuses, since the UK had offered to do much the same when they shut down Twitter and Facebook during protests a couple of years ago. Ha-ha-not!
In San Francisco reputedly a bastion of both freedom and certainly speech, the BART rapid transit system has been stubbornly defending their willingness to cut off all access to the internet to block protests. There are now reports on stalking based on pejorative tweets within the Buddhist community in the USA.
Do we really want this? I don’t think so, and I say this as someone who has gotten a good share of flaming, threatening, and violently abusive messages over the internet transom at different times. I worry less about those crazies than the ones hiding behind doors, if you know what I mean. As long as there is a Delete button, I’m able to weather all of those storms with“sticks and stones” vigilance while letting the “words” roll off, like water off a duck’s back.
We have to have the ability to organize and associate, even when others go over the line. It’s easier to say we’re sorry in such circumstances, than to imagine the lack of freedom involved in having to ask permission to be able to speak to ourselves much less our governments about our interests and issues.