Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Country Boundaries and the Internet...

Interesting interview today with Canada's Lt.-Col. Francis Castonguay about Canada's drive for changes to the Canadian Armed Forces so the army, navy and air force could operate in cyberspace... He said part of their problem was internet's lack of boundaries...  If you go back about a decade we heard the same argument between yahoo and France during their infamous spat.  

If you're not aware of this, in short, Yahoo! stated that as a US company, it didn't have to abide by the wishes of France when France found Yahoo! was trying to flog Nazi memorabilia to the French public - and besides, it's a boundary-less environment that couldn't be enforced.  Further, Yahoo! said that the USA's First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech and expression, and that any attempt to enforce a judgement in the United States would fail for unconstitutionality.

They then said the French court was incompetent to hear the case.

Naturally, France got a tad upset by this and basically gave them 90 days to censor the Nazi content from the French people.  Magically, Yahoo! pulled this off.... largely because people outside of Yahoo! said to the judge that they'd be able to do it if Yahoo! couldn't.

After the case was brought before a bunch of US judges by Yahoo! saying that as an American company, the French Court's wishes were not applicable to them, naturally the American judge agreed.  Then a higher up court had the ruling overturned.  Then everything escalated and eventually the whole thing ended up in DC.  At this point, someone very high up who had a level head ruled this:

"Yahoo! is necessarily arguing that it has a First Amendment right to violate French criminal law and to facilitate the violation of French criminal law by others. [...] the extent — indeed the very existence — of such an extraterritorial right under the First Amendment is uncertain."

Yahoo! had lost trying to force American values on the French public.

The most interesting outcome that you don't hear too often is what happened after this: 
The same technology made for filtering out the American's sales of Nazi tat to the French was soon used to broker a deal with China, where (surprise!) the same filters were used to stop certain content reaching the Chinese general public.