Regulating the Wild West

I forgot to cross-post here a few paragraphs I posted to Liberal Conspiracy last week, commenting on Andy Burnham’s call for more internet regulation:

It is also contentious that the poor are being disadvantaged by the ‘lawless’ internet – One great advantage of the medium is that it reduces the financial barriers of entry into any given business. Putting online regulation in place will surely restore those barriers.

Later, Unity took Burnham to task at greater length, for misrepresenting John Perry Barlow’sA Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace‘ in a quest to defend royalties for the rich music labels, at the expense of new and more equitable business models, where intellectual property is shared or even waived, that are appearing online.

Meanwhile, the CMS Select Committee suggests that YouTube should be better policed, with content certificates similar to those awarded to movies. Taming the Wild-West seems to be on the DCMS agenda.

Although the “wild-west” conception of the internet is probably inaccurate description of most people’s experience, message boards like the misanthropic /b/ board at 4chan certainly do have a lawless air to them. Not only are there no rules governing behaviour, but the participants do not seem to abide by most established social rules, or rules of decency either. But, as this interesting article from the New York Times Magazine shows, even those who are intent on disrupting the lives of others, causing panic without empathy, do seem to operate by a code of sorts, only attacking those they consider to be stupid, hypocritical, inconsistent… or careless:

“It’s not that I do this because I hate them. I do this because I’m trying to save them.”

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