Last 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.