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Jun 17, 2010

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As I sort-of said elsewhere, imagine if the Army didn't exist and the Federal government proposed to create one. It would be kind of funny to watch all the self-styled libertarians have hategasms over the thought of Government! Intrusion! Into! Our! Civil! Liberties! Why, you can't possibly expect the government to manage a military force properly--they can't even enforce their own laws, much less defend the nation from foreign aggressors! Here, let me post an irrelevant anecdote about some screwup involving a government agency, clearly that shows the validity of my assertions!

Come to think about it, BP could have saved itself $20 billion if it had just persuaded Congress last year that trying to regulate deep sea drilling would create a crazy Big Government "Oil Supply Kill Switch."

See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowout_preventer

My understanding is that this legislation would empower the government to shut down individual websites and servers, as well as deny Internet access to geographical regions within the United States.

Once the government starts shutting down websites as being contrary to the national interest, where will it stop? Throughout the 20th century, the government used its power to regulate the postal system to ban mailing gay rights literature, magazines advocating communism, adult pornography, etc. In each instance, the government argued literature of this type was so far beyond the scope of decent society that it should be banned from the mail for the collective good. The Supreme Court eventually struck these bans down.

More recently, the Clinton Administration supported the Communication Decency Act and Child Online Protection Act, both of which criminalized online speech that the government considered "indecent." The purportedly "indecent" speech ranged from AIDS prevention information to websites on animal husbandry practices to information on sex for those with spinal cord injuries. The courts struck these statutes down, ruling that that the government can not limit online speech and activities by adults to what the government deems it appropriate for children to see.

How long until mere speech is deemed so harmful as to justify shutting down websites? The Obama administration has argued before the Supreme Court, in U.S. v Stevens, that the government should apply a "balancing test," banning speech where the perceived harms outweigh perceived benefits.

"Hate speech," as defined by whichever group is in power, is an obvious target. There have been repeated complaints that the government is trying to prevent the media from covering the oil spill. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/us/10access.html?scp=1&sq=Lysiak&st=cse And so on.

Density Duck: I saw your other comment on VC to same effect and appreciated it. Maybe I'll borrow it in some future post, it that's ok.

Externality: Your understanding of the legislation is not correct.

Sure, go ahead.

Stewart: You're welcome to use the idea in your writings.

My understanding is that this legislation would empower the government to shut down individual websites and servers, as well as deny Internet access to geographical regions within the United States.

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