: This is actually a rather confused story from the BBC about peer-to-peer as a new means of distributing news, but it raises again the important notion that we need a new means of delivering news to people in countries subjected to government censorship (which — and I’m only half joking — may soon include this one). The story quotes Cambridge Prof. Ross Anderson, who goes off on tangents about using this to get around big news organizations (the web already does that) and blocking porn. The important point is that P2P can provide a means of delivering and sharing news and opinion that would be harder to block since it has no one address, no one source. We need more such mechanisms for writers and readers in Iran and China and … well, you know the list.

: Hoder reminds me of his post on this sometime ago, which I also blogged at the time.

  • michael

    Our government already censors our news. Consider 2 easy examples:
    – during the first Gulf War, the military placed heavy resitrictions on the media for access to troops, battle sites, etc. Further, all news reports where first screened by the Pentagon before being sent to their editors. In fact, it was at the governments discretion as to who got be in the “press pool” in the first place.
    – currently, the Pentagon refuses to permit camera crews to record the return of troops killed in action.

  • Andy Freeman

    Not giving someone access isn’t censorship. Contrary to popular belief, no one owes reporters stories.
    However, there is govt censorship for political speech, complete with fines, and so on, and this has been going on for years.
    I’m referring to the campaign restrictions, some of which are administered by the FEC.
    You’ll note that Jarvis only complains about restrictions on media. While he argues that such restrictions are important because they might lead to restrictions on political speech, he doesn’t complain about actual/current restrictions on political speech by not-media folks.
    I’ll give Jarvis one thing – he, unlike many of his colleagues, is not actively hostile to political free speech by not-media folk. However, his “media shouldn’t be constrained” position that’s a long way from the free speech label that he claims.

  • michael

    Not giving someone access isn’t censorship. Contrary to popular belief, no one owes reporters stories.
    Congress shall make no law….

  • Jim

    Even if fining Howard Stern were to represent some kind of government control over his speech, it’s so far down on the scale of importance when it comes to media that it’s almost laughable.
    The biggest threat to free speech and the dissemination of news is the bias of Big Media.
    The blogosphere is developing as a counterweight, but its influence reaches only a small fraction of the general public – and usually it’s the fraction most likely to have questioned the story in the first place anyway.
    Over and over again we hear of stories out of which artificial sound and fury are generated by media desperate to put forth a certain political view while other stories which put the lie to the sound and fury are ignored or even subjected to vicious attacks specifically designed to discredit them.
    If you can’t hear your locker room humor for free on broadcast radio, there will always be unregulated sources such as satellite, etc. However, if the Big Media decide to lie or “overlook” important stories that affect all of us then our entire lives are built on lies of misinformation.
    If you can think this over and still decide that the “right” to hear Howard Stern’s potty jokes for free are a bigger concern, then you have a seriously misplaced set of priorities.
    Fight for an objective media capable of reporting facts as facts and letting readers and viewers decide the meaning for themselves, THEN worry about what place this kind of humor deserves (or doesn’t deserve) on our airwaves.
    Attacking a government straw man might work up the emotional juices and feel good, but let’s get a little perspective here…First things first…

  • Sigh … I remember when USENET/Netnews was the supposed uncensorable protocol.

  • enloop

    Michael, the First Amendment, by associating speech and the press, clearly considers both as acts of exposition: If I have something to say, I have a right to stand on a street corner and say it or publish it in a newspaper or other medium.
    The First Amendment guarantees my right to ask questions, but it does not guarantee any right to direct those questions to any single individual in particualr, nor does it obligate anyone to answer or, even, listen.
    Publishing in the press is also an act of exposition. But, the amendment obligates no one to allow access by the press, nor does it prohibit any individual or organization from actively keeping the press away.
    Example: If a President demanded all reports of his news conferences to be submitted for approval before release, the press would have an obvious First Amendment case. If the same President held no news conferences, ever, and never responded to any questions from reporters, the press would not have a First Amendment case. Note, though, that in either case, the status quo would prevail until someone took it into court.