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I've had it in mind to do a discussion post about Censorship since last Summer because of a heated dispute that arose here about it back then; but also because it is an oft-recurring subject of debate on the site to this day, with our Administrators sometimes being accused of being hypocritical in relation to I-Power's long-established support of Net Neutrality.  The confusion arises, I think, because many people assume {and wrongly so}  that supporting Net Neutrality also somehow constitutes a support for chaos and/or anarchy, which is not the case at all.  Net Neutrality and bills/laws like SOPA & PIPA involve the idea of governments restricting the individuals ability to connect with others on the internet... and although this could be considered a form of censorship, it is actually more about regulating the conduit of communication, and not the regulation of what somebody may individually wish to publish or express.  It's a matter of semantics, I suppose. 

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In any case, Censorship is something that is commonplace everywhere on the planet.  It has always existed, everywhere, in some form or another; and it always will.  In a way, it is a foundational element of social interaction, and oftentimes facilitates rational and "civilized" discussion.  In the United States, for example, the "freedom of speech" and expression and the right to assembly are popularly considered to be inalienable human rights, {meaning that they are basic human rights that cannot be taken from you, or given away,} .. but they are not practically treated as such, and they never have been.  Various laws exist that regulate public assembly and personal expression in the United States, and these laws differ from State to State, and from city to city.  And if you commit a felony crime and go to prison you can bet your ass that your "freedom of speech," as well as many other of your "inalienable rights," will be stripped away from you.

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Net Neutrality involves the idea that there should not be any excessive form of government regulation of the Internet.  Its proponents believe that individual web sites and domains should be able to operate in much the same way as independent cities and municipalities would.  Which is to say that they should have the freedom to regulate themselves as they see fit, and that they do not need to have a higher agency of some sort imposing regulatory mandates upon them.  In the international, online gaming community called Second Life, for example, enacting scenarios that would mimic sex with a minor child is forbidden by common consensus, and there are virtual police officers in the game who can "arrest" you if you are caught breaking this "law". 

See:  Second Life - Terms of Service - User Conduct

And:  Second Life - Community Standards

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The majority of people in this world consider sex with minor children to be offensive behavior, and so they create laws where they live in order to prohibit such activity, as well as anything that might serve to promote it, such as child pornography; and these same people also tend to transfer their feelings about this matter onto the internet when they create and join online communities.  There is no need for any government to tell them to do it.  They create these kinds of prohibitions all by themselves w/o being told that they have to do so.  And just as small cities and towns will change the speed limit for automobile traffic as you drive through them, or sometimes make laws prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages in their area, or the operation of adult bookstores or nude dancing pubs, the creators of internet websites and the communities that form around them likewise also make up independent rules and guidelines that specify what kinds of behaviors are acceptable {or not} for their particular domains.

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The I-Power community is like this.  Our service provider, Ning, has several guidelines for anybody who wishes to use their service and create a site on their network; and we also have our own set of guidelines for what is acceptible here on this particular site, and for what is not.  The most common area of dispute that I see here regarding these "rules" seems to revolve around the subject of "freedom of speech" and personal expression, with members occasionally being suspended from chat or the site itself for being excessively vulgar or for personally insulting other members.  And while some of our members feel that any type of personal expression should be tolerated here, others do not.  Overall, the rules that we have adopted for member conduct on I-Power are very standard ones; and the enforcement of them is actually quite loose compared to other sites on the net.  Our main goal is to provide a "family friendly" atmosphere which will promote fun and civilized discussions about important issues that affect our world; so language and behavior that runs counter to this goal is frowned upon, and sometimes penalized.  So, for example, while most of us would fully support your right to take nude photos of yourself and to upload them to the internet somewhere, we would also tell you that this particular website is not the place to do it and we would recommend that you search for another site that does permit that kind of thing.  Common sense and good judgement usually prevail here, and they should be suitable enough as a general guideline for how you should conduct yourself.  Of course, if you think that the rules here are too restrictive, you are free to close your account;  but breaking them in order to show your discontent will not likely get you very far, and may get your account closed for you.  :-)

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In ending, please note that I did not post this as a discussion about whether or not the Community Guidelines for I-Power are right or wrong.  I posted this as a general discussion about the subject of Censorship, both on the internet, and in real life.  If you wish to dispute our particular Guidelines, please do not do so publicly in this thread.  Instead, privately contact the site's creator, Reese Leysen, or one of the other site Administrators to do that.  Also, please do not bring up any individual cases from the past where a member may have been disciplined for their conduct here.  Those type of incidents are also best handled privately with the Administrators;  and any attempts to argue about them here publically will be deleted and censored.  hehehe

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Do, however, feel free to discuss here below what you think, and how you feel about the subject of Net Neutrality and Censorship in general; and list cases where you feel it is appropriate; and cases where you think it is excessive; etc.  That should make for a very good discussion in itself, w/o creating any unnecessary drama.

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*wink*

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Tags: Censorship, Internet, Net, Neutrality

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Replies to This Discussion

Net Neutrality, I think it's important, but it should be monitored for fraud, childporn, etc.

There is no noticeable censorship (no bleeps) on the Belgian television. But I don't watch it. I get too angry, if I do watch TV.

How people decide to communicate to each other is there choice. Every person and therefore every situation is different. When you apply censorship, what you can loose is the strength of the message, the emotional experience and the underlying problems. Censorship can also offend people for not being able to finish there point. I do think that striving for emotional-less discussions is the way to go. But not everything is a discussion. I prefer to say we're studying life.

Applying laws, without offering help is not really fixing the problem (like child molestation).

Interesting post, Shiz. i'm bumping this thread

I think while net neutrality is essentially an ideal, in practice it cannot possibly be allowed. Think of it like an entirely free market, in a free market private companies would own everything.. hospitals, prisons etc. Now when this occurs, exploitation of consumers etc becomes rife. This is why government involvement in economies is essential, to make things fair for a consumer.

Now, take the same principles and apply it to the internet. If the internet were entirely free, there would be no protection, no safeguards for the average internet user. Governments would have no involvement so there would be no official body protecting a persons information. Private firms may seize opportunities without a government in place, but that is a different, hypothetical and fairly unexplored matter. 

On the other hand, if a government becomes too involved in the internet, well im sure everyone is aware of what happens, no more freedom of speech, etc. etc. etc. 

Therefore, it is my view that a balance has to be struck between the involvement of official bodies and the freedom of the internet. One note i will make, is that the motives of an official body becoming involved should be more purely based on that of protecting the information of individuals, the prevention of fraud and for methods of preventing crime. I do not think governments should use their power to support multinational corporations, large companies, firms etc. 

Laws are a necessary part of the world as a way of establishing the boundaries of what is socially, morally, ethically acceptable, and there has to be some standard that applies to the internet, as there is in real life. We have no entirely free speech in real life (which in my opinion is not at all a bad thing as it helps prevent things like racism, sexism, ageism.. all that discriminatory stuff that is clearly not acceptable), and as such we do not have it on the internet.

To conclude, and possibly repeat myself, the internet in my opinion should be free to the extent that the government should only be able to regulate when a person's information is stolen, persons are being discriminated against and criminal activities are being prevented. 

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