Are the big online content providers – Google, Facebook, Netflix and the like – eroding free speech to make doing business internationally easier?
Remember – while free markets will trend toward free speech, the Silicon Valley giants are not free markets; they are to their various corners of the ‘net at best industrious but regulation-made Germans or Swedes, and at worst – Facebook and Twitter – Red Chinese in hoodies and sneakers instead of Mao jackets.
They are bureaucracies – and bureaucracies crave uniformity. The kind of uniformity that only partnership and acuiescence with Big Government can give them.
It took a remarkably short time for the ethic of the Internet to devolve from “Information wants to be free!” to “Follow the rules blindly!” The danger is the California-emissions dynamic, i.e. the tendency of the most demanding and restrictive standard among a group of competing standards to become the de facto universal standard in that it allows a single consistent mode of production. In the United States, 16 states follow California’s auto-emissons standards rather than the national standard, which has made the California standard the effective national standard for many manufacturers. In a similar way, it will be tempting — it already is tempting — to make China the worldwide arbiter of free-speech standards for global technology companies and other international carriers. If you think that a commitment to “artistic freedom” is going to prevent that, go to the movies: The remake of Red Dawn originally was about a Chinese invasion of the United States; after protests from Beijing, it became the story of a ludicrous North Korean invasion. The New York Times submits to censorship abroad.
Read the whole thing.
Because we’ve all got to demand better.