no-mans-landLast year, we asked you for ideas on how to make the internet safer for kids, and, in response, you sent us several innovative suggestions (including forcing users to solve a difficult maths challenge before they can access content inappropriate for children – despite the fact that many adults find entering their date of birth a difficult enough maths challenge as it is). However, there was also a strong reaction from several commenters arguing that it was simply impossible to make the internet safer for kids, and that regulators shouldn’t even try.

Limbidis, for example, was cleary the “No” man:

No, no, no! The internet is a “no man’s land”. That’s its purpose. If we start imposing regulations even there, people won’t be able to express themselves freely… No ACTA, no control or regulations, nothing. Put a warning label [on it] if you wish. But no interference.

We put this comment to Jan Albrecht, a German Green MEP who works closely on the question of digital rights and regulation, and who campaigned against the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA):

We also had the chance to put the same question to Marietje Schaake, a Dutch Liberal MEP whose works particularly covers issues of civil rights, freedom of speech and censorship (and who was described as “Europe’s most wired politician” by the Wall Street Journal).

A releated comment was sent in by John, who argued that individual companies are unable to solve the problems of cyberspace without government intervention:

Individual companies, however big they are, seem to be unwilling or unable to combine their huge knowledge of how the internet works to sort out the several major problems that continue to plague cyberspace… In the absence of this kind of action by industry Governments must step forward to speak for and protect the broader public interest.

How would Marietje Schaake respond?

Finally, related to one of the most high-profile cases of internet regulation in recent years, we had a comment from Paul on the ACTA issue. Paul argued that:

Intellectual property rights are, and should be, discussed, agreed and implemented through the far more open discussions of the World Trade Organisation.

First, we put this to Marietje Schaake for her response:

Then we asked Jan Albrecht how he would react:

What do YOU think? Is the internet a lawless, libertarian utopia? Or, just like in “real life”, are rules needed to protect everybody? In the absence of solutions coming from private companies, do regulators need to step in? And is it even possible to regulate cyberspace? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

IMAGE CREDITS: CC / Flickr – Balakov


36 comments Post a commentcomment


  1. Georgi Hrisstof

    Terms and capabilities. Privacy and protection of personal media presence and space delegated by copyright message and position. Control control to not pour undue stress, which is the desire for better pay. Young people will control themselves, but also their training places needed to educate and offer a solution, “deal” with advanced technology and monitoring. Changes in relationships and contacts, knowledge and knowledge sharing is the freedom of each person and the ability to know without being read and definitely dogmatic and already marked by “coryphaeus faithful dictatorships societies ..” this is the new world of intimacy and communication, but also the world with personal and conscious choice .. and independence!

  2. eusebio manuel vestias pecurto

    A Internet é um espaço onde a liberdade de expressão é a rainha Agora somos nós que devemos saber fazer liberdade de expressão dentro da internet como mundaças das sociedades e também nos politicos globais é também um mundo indepedente Eu no passado quando comecei a comentar dentro da Internet as pessoas comentavam os meus comentários e comentavam gostei do que escreveste isto é a nossa liberdade de comentar dentro da Internet é verdade á quem goste e quem não goste agora as pessoas tem que saber comentar para não prejudicar os terceiros meus amigos somos nós que temos de controlar a internet e não a internet

  3. Christos Mouzeviris

    “social media can be a great ground for real debate and social changes among ordinary citizens… instead of trying to scare people off making comments (unless of course these are bullying or derogatory terms for a person or ethnic group) you should encourage them. instead, make illegal for companies to fire or hire people according to what they do online… if a company fires a person just because they do not agree with his political convictions that he freely expresses online (as he or she should-we are supposed to have democracy) the it is the company that should face the music. make it a law. unless of course the comments are as I said above inciting hatred or bullying. that is another story!!”

  4. Christos Mouzeviris

    what would democracy be without the absolute freedom of opinion by the public? even if it is inconvenient! through a debate we can educate our youths and form their opinions, not by not letting them comment on sensitive issues. even if they have a negative point of view, if we silence them they will never change it.. if we listen to them, but engage with them and offer them another point of view, they might reconsider…

  5. Maro Kouris

    Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Thought must reign supreme on the internet, to “Keep the Bastards honest”. These are the values of our cherished egalitarian democracy.

  6. Eugene Markow

    This is a good question, and a constructive one. The issue I see taking place within internet related debate and discussion are when pseudonyms or fictitious individuals assuming another ‘nick’ or identity are involved (aka ‘trolls’). These individuals are falsely representing or being erroneously associated with other social or ethnic groups when offensive and insulting comments are being made. This does much harm to the debate itself and undermines the values and objectives. Unfortunately, social networks like FB still do not have appropriate controls to regulate this properly. The solution to this is for the individual groups initiating the debate itself properly and thoroughly screen participants as to their identity. When ‘real’ individuals are involved whose actual names and identities are revealed, the tendency for trolling is greatly reduced and the discussion will result in a more credible and intelligent one.

  7. Diogo Vaz

    The only way to keep Internet safe for kids is to have responsible parents. Everything else is lack of conscience to teach children, only have them to access to credit houses, automobile and luxury items with a more easy life with generational mortgage… and to have that easily let´s make a lot of laws to kill the beauty of INTERNET so that some promiscuity people can abandon their children to the faith of destiny…. anyway I was lucky to grow at a time that only existed pedophiles and no INTERNET… we only could threw them rocks, smash their car glasses and scratch the car paint… it was a lot more dangerous but was a hell of a fun… and we were only 8 or 10 years old by that time… nowadays the people have so much protection that at a certain time of their lives start to be irresponsible counting on wrong laws and leverages due to once being so jerks…

  8. Maro Kouris

    Eugene, you should never judge a book by its cover but by its content. Does it really matter if a person wears a mask to conceal their identity? Quality of intellectual content is what matters.

  9. Eugene Markow

    Maro, many individuals on the internet (and FB) that camouflage their real identities often use this to express unethical, offensive, and distasteful content. FB has specific rules in their policy explicitly requiring all individuals to use their real identities. It’s clearly stated and there is a good reason for this. One must abide by the law. However, many still do not conform to this policy.

  10. Alex Avram-Rusu

    It’s mostly useless to try and debate things over the Internet. People will always insult more, even when they provide “real identities”. If they want to express offensive content it’s their right. It’s also your right to ignore trolls and any people that you don’t like. In real life, most trolls would be molested on the street, but on the Internet they are safe. They feel comfortable in their homes :)

  11. Michele Vanolli

    Regulate cyberspace is very difficult and i think that we risk to have a diminution of the freedom.
    Everybody can take a measures to increase their security.
    But the real problem is to contrast the cybercrime.
    I think that, in the next future, will need to make an international agreement, that includes the largest possible number of states, for regulate cyberspace.
    Internet is a great opportunity but, if we don’t regulated cyberspace, we can have a enormous problem in the next future.

  12. Maro Kouris

    No regulation is required or necessary to stifle DEMOCRATIC DEBATE derived from Freedom of speech or freedom of thought.These basic FREEDOMS are cornerstones of our Democratic values and Democratic societies. To object to these Freedoms is to support DICTATORSHIP and we who live in Democratic societies all know what a complete FAILURE Dictatorships are.

  13. Ramona Andreea Gheorghiu

    Maro, what about copyrights? Intelectual property is the area which suffers because of this freedom. If you were an artist, would you be pleased if an anonymous account uses your works and takes credit for it? Think about all the aspects of the so called freedom you keep bringing in discussion.

    • Eduard

      If we will censor internet for the wealth of big companies then maybe the next step is to take a look to every people right. First we should remove share button from every social network!!! then we should ban phone cameras – because (except nature) every object from your photos is made by someone who has a patent for it! Who is affected by sharing? – mainly entertainment industry…
      Anyway how many tracks can someone listen in a day? Keep in mind that MTV, VIVA, U-TV, etc. isn’t banned and streaming works fine on 4G! How many movies can watch a man in one day ? HBO costs about 4 Euros for a month! I think sharing it’s the key!
      If there will be an authority that would keep statistics on all movies, all photos, all the songs heard or seen monthly and if we will pay another 5-10 Euros to the internet provider then this problem will be solved. Cloud technology is here too! If all movies, tracks, photos, etc. will be uploaded by their owners on Amazon cloud (for example) and based on the audience will get their share from this “Copyright Tax”, everyone will be happy.

    • Melvyn Sopacua

      Anonymity and misrepresentation are basic human rights that are under constant strain. You have this right in the real world. You have the right to go into a bar and call yourself Amy, make up a profession and simply have fun. Why would this have to be any different on th internet, if the law is not broken by these actions?

  14. John Flerianos

    There’s no such thing as cyberspace god damn it. It’s not a physical thing. It’s just information spread around computers.

  15. catherine benning

    The internet is already in the hands of those who fear the power of the freedom it gves us all. The game now, is to use it to make millions, tax free.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU-neNg0OoE

    They want to be able to force you to see only what they give sanction for.

    And they will do it via money making Taking your money to allow you only to view what you have bought to see. This will mean you cannot surf and find what you want without their permission and knowledge. Every email you send, every website you visit, they already have access to. Which leaves you open for anything they plan to use against you.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHST8dyZ8Tw

    So it is already taking place, they are simply letting you know they now have control in order to see how much oppostion they may face. Rremember, though this enormous gift given to us by our superb scientists will grow beyond this step, some smart guy will find a way to change what we today cannot change.. That is why it is call cyber war. The growth will continue back and forth ad infnitum.. Each time, removing more and more of your freedom to know what is going on.

    And the big reality that shows we are being duped.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f-72SzLN4hE

  16. Maro Kouris

    Ramona, you do not judge a book by its cover but by the quality of its content.

  17. Ankit Khandelwal

    Internet has to be free and there is no doubt young people will control themselves. But there is nothing wrong in educating the young people telling them about good and bad aspects of the internet. It is also a good idea to tell them limits of social networking.

    In a day when we are using technology as our 3rd hand, we often forget that information whether its good or bad spread very fast.
    Let me give you an example: Sometime around 2 years ago, a teenage girl from a country in Europe, created a facebook event on her birthday. She invited her friends and kept the invitation open for everybody. Her friends invited others and it soon became a chain reaction. Later, out of 10-15 she has invited, many of the people turned up (in hundreds) for her birthday celebration. It created some chaotic situation and police later in fact demanded money from the family of the girl as a compensation for the chaos created and public property damaged from her drunken uninvited friends.
    Now, what we can get from this event? Freedom was still preserved but without any discipline, so it calls for some serious measurement without touching the free part.

  18. Maroussia Morgan

    I do not know if Internet can be successfully regulated. It is great for freedom of speech and perhaps we just need a code of ethics. No person should use the Internet to harass another or spread lies. Everyone is representing herself/ himself. No employer should use Internet postings to judge, criticize an employee ( and that one is hard to enforce). It is kind of a free land right now. It is relatively simple and easy. The rules too I think should be simple and easy. Keep it good for any person with good social interaction intentions to stay in. The Internet may put amend to the oppression of people in many countries. It certainly made possible the reelection of President Obama. No President ever before has been closer to the people. Just think how amazing this has been…

  19. Liliana Lili

    ESTE UN MOD DE A LUA LEGATURA CU CEILALTI,DE A AFLA EVENIMENTE,DAR IN ACELASI TIMP NU-TI CONFERA SECURITATE,TOTI STIU DESPRE TOTI !

  20. Raj Kumar

    It can be controlled of course b/c designed by us but we have to come to gather……..in any way…….

  21. Alexandrescu Sorin

    The Internet is where free spirits meet, where words meet other words, where good and evil are together at the same table.

  22. Ronald Dunham

    I’ll say that yes, it is lawless. Proof? Anonymous. As in the group. No one knows who these guys are and they could theoretically get away with anything they like, unethical or otherwise. Is this something we allow to just run wild? Faceless people doing what they like with no harm to come for their malignant actions? Freedom of Expression and Speech are great, but when you violate someone else’s rights there has to be accountability. Anonymity and the very lawless nature that the internet is about counteract that and remove accountability.

    So yes, it is lawless and it is a problem.

  23. Nelle

    Fastidious respond in return off this question with sollid arguments and telling all on the topic of that.

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