Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 27th Apr 2011 22:48 UTC
Internet & Networking Well, this is a pleasant surprise. This weekend, we ran a story about the carrier situation in the The Netherlands. The largest carrier in The Netherlands has announced it's going to charge for services like IM and Skype, while the other two carriers were thinking about following suit. I stated I expected little from our politicians - but boy, turns out I was wrong. Basically the entire lower house - left to right, progressive to conservative - is not happy with the carriers' moves, and are now exploring options to prohibit them from implementing their plans - including the option to embed net neutrality in our telecommunications act. Go go... Politicians?!
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RE: Comment by error32
by earksiinni on Thu 28th Apr 2011 01:46 UTC in reply to "Comment by error32"
earksiinni
Member since:
2009-03-27

Here in the US, we recently had a case where William Cronon, a historian from the University of Wisconsin, ran an op-ed piece in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/opinion/22cronon.html) in response to the labor unrest in his home state (the governor of Wisconsin and Republicans in the state were pushing to virtually ban teachers in the state from unionizing as part of a "budget balancing" maneuver). He didn't take sides, but rather argued that Gov. Walker's position went against deeply-rooted Wisconsin traditions--shared by Republicans and Democrats alike--of political transparency and cooperation.

What was the response? The Wisconsin Republican Party filed a freedom of information request to access all the e-mails sent from and received by Cronon's university e-mail account. How is this possible? Because Cronon, who works for a public university, is a civil servant of the state, and therefore his e-mail is technically public property.

Regardless of how one interprets Cronon's original piece, it's obvious how such an abuse of power made big waves in the news here. Not only was someone's private correspondence forcibly made public through a legal loophole, but Cronon is a tenured faculty member. The whole point of being a professor with tenure is to be able to make independent statements even if society might not want to hear them. Plus, the move was carried out by a major political party, which has deep implications. One can see how the freedom of information request is tantamount to a political attack on an intellectual and freedom of speech.

None of this is to say that the request is "illegal". My point is that--and apparently this is a worldwide phenomenon--people are so "legally-bound" in their thinking that they can't imagine that laws and the principles behind them change or that we should change them. Yes, the network is the telco's, so I guess one should be able to do what one wants with one's private property, or in the case of Cronon, any citizen from Wisconsin should in principle be able to access (according to one interpretation) the e-mails of a public employee. But do we want to live in that world? If yes, enjoy your status quo. If no, gain power and pressure your politicians into doing The Right Thing. Or, once in a blue moon, you might just be able to get by with the politicians doing it by themselves.

It's called democracy, baby. (According to one interpretation ;-)

Edited 2011-04-28 01:54 UTC

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