This one has caught my attention in the past few days. In an effort to put a halt to filesharing, ISPs in the UK have agreed to participate in a government initiative (gotta love those!). Apparently, this involves sending nasty letters to "suspected music pirates". Which begs the question - what constitutes a pirate? Not to mention the other question - what are they threatening them with? I can't help but think that it's more a symbolic gesture than anything else. For starters, it's hardly in the ISPs best interest to cut off users who - in their capacity as "music pirates" - spend a lot of time online downloading things, all of which the ISP can presumably charge lots of hard-earned for. In my mind, this is the same old argument that we've been debating since the internet was made available to the masses. To censor or not to censor?
There is never a time when censorship - particularly of the variety done by governments - is going to be acceptable. I'm all for appropriate content in the appropriate places, but when a government (or ISP, or any other organisation) is deciding what is 'decent' and what is 'acceptable', where will the forums be? It used to be that commons existed in every town - as time has worn on, the commons have changed, and in today's connected society, the internet can be viewed as one great, global commons. Sure, there's bits of that I really don't want to have anything to do with, but that comes down to choice, and freedom. But, in the immortal words of St Jude and the Internet 21:
better ugly speech than enforced silence.