What Unites Advocates of Speech Controls & Privacy Regulation?
Adam D. Thierer
George Mason University - Mercatus Center
Berin Michael Szoka
August 11, 2009
Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper, Vol. 16, No. 19, August 2009
Efforts to regulate both free speech and online privacy are united by an elitist vision and common regulatory mechanisms. The better alternative to political elitism enforced by regulation, they argue, is an empowerment agenda based on fostering an environment in which users have the tools and information they need to make decisions for themselves and their families.
The imposition of two elitist beliefs held by some leaders, activists, or intellectuals through coercive, top-down mandates in particular are at the root of almost all privacy and speech regulatory efforts: (1) the belief that people are too ignorant (or simply too busy) to be trusted to make wise decisions for themselves (or their children); (2) the belief that all or most people share essentially the same values or concerns and, therefore, 'community standards' should trump household (or individual) standards.
Enforcing these elitist beliefs by law threatens individual liberty and free speech as well as the future of free and open Internet. Other parallels between the two regulatory movements include internal philosophical inconsistencies on both the Left and Right, common mechanisms, political tactics, and motivations. An agenda of self-empowerment that lets users and families, instead of political elites, determine what is in their own best interest is superior to top-down regulation.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 14
Keywords: privacy regulation, speech controls, online privacy, free speech, elitism, online regulation, speech regulation, parental controls, child protection, Intellectual Schizophrenia, age verification, richard thaler, cass sunstein, lessig, green dam, clear channel, fcc
JEL Classification: A13, D11, D7, D79, D73, D81, I18, I21, K3, I2, I28, K14, K42, K23, L5, L51, L82, L86, L96, L98, O33,working papers series
Date posted: August 18, 2009 ; Last revised: November 9, 2009
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