The Privacy BlogThoughts on privacy, security, and other stuff.

Jan/08

15

Disparate national laws trample privacy expectations

Israel recently forced Google to hand over the identity of a blogger. Declan McCullagh wrote a good post covering the facts of the case. This case illustrates one of the problems caused by the international nature of the Internet. A message, article, or blog post you write (completely legally) in your country, may subject you to prosecution and punishment in another. I am not thinking here of obvious and major crimes such as fraud, child pornography, etc. (and even these are not universally criminal), but rather of more subtle speech and thought crimes.In the United States, the “truth” is an absolute defense in liable cases, while in the UK it is not (lawyers in the audience, please correct me if I am in error here). Denial of the holocaust  is protected first amendment speech in the US but not in much of Europe. Personal sharing of copyrighted materials is legal in many countries, but not the US. Think cartoons of Mohammed, the Satanic Verses, the secret teachings of the Scientologists, pictures of Burmese protests, publishing of Cryptography software. Each of these is legal in some countries and not in others.How can anyone know if their words or actions might be illegal in some country somewhere in the world. 

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3 comments

  • Scam · January 15, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is no defence, or at least not in the UK.

    I quite agree with your sentiment though – I often get emailed by people who suggest some of my thoughts should not be allowed on the web.

    Free speach (and thought) is a luxury that the world at large is quickly losing a grip on. :(

  • Author comment by lance · January 16, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Ignorance of the law is not a defense in the US either. Unfortunately it is now almost impossible to be informed of all the laws that could be brought to bear against you.

  • Darren Chaker · November 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    The truth in the U.S. is a defense, but in China, North Korea, Russia, Georgia, Iran, etc. its death or imprisonment if the truth is not to the liking of government.

    Darren Chaker

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