One of the most influential sites on the Internet is undoubtedly C-Net Central.  This web giant is the World Wide Web location of a media conglomerate which includes several television shows which air on multiple cable networks and, I believe, in syndication.  They are involved in at least one joint venture with at least one of the computer world's giants.  And they have decided to use their strong position to recommend legislation, and to garner support for this legislation through a survey.  I'm not sure I agree with all of their points, or their methods, or their reasoning--so I'm going to give you my

Thoughts on the Ten Internet Laws Proposed by C-Net

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  Before I tackle the issues individually--and allow me to say that I do agree with some of their positions, some of their reasoning, and some of their suggestions--I want to complain about their methodology.  They allege that they are taking a survey, to determine the opinions of "netizens".  But each page of their survey contains a biased discussion of the issue, stating why the law should be accepted.  In every case, the issue is open for debate (they admit this), but C-Net fails to give the arguments against its suggestions, or to recommend a source for a contrary opinion (although I have given them the opportunity to prove their lack of bias by recommending this site to the many who subscribe to their newsletter--of which I am one).  It is prima facie obvious that if in taking a poll you give the subjects the major arguments on one side of the issue, and not on the other side, before asking their opinion, you will bias your survey in favor of your own position.  Political polls are taken by experts who understand that even so little as the way a question is phrased can control the outcome of a survey--what you ask and how you ask it will control your results far more than the opinions of those surveyed.  For example, on the issue of abortion, people have opinions on several levels.  Most people believe that abortion is morally wrong; this opinion is more common among conservatives, but stretches into liberal ranks significantly.  However, conservatives generally also believe that government should not try to control the lives of individuals:  "the government which governs least governs best".  So if you ask people whether abortion is wrong, the majority will say it is; but if you ask if government should limit abortion, the answer will usually be no.  And if so small a thing as the difference between whether something is wrong and whether it should be illegal can produce so great a difference, how much more bias will be injected into a survey by arguing one side of the issue before asking the question?  C-Net's survey is biased in its structure, and therefore biased in its results.

  I will repeat this point:  if C-Net presents its survey as support for its legislative recommendations, the survey results are biased due to the bias in the structure of the poll, and should be discounted.  You are welcome to make your views known to C-Net--the link is below--but I'm going to invite you to read my thoughts on their questions first--each of their recommendations discussed on a separate linked page.

C-Net didn't choose to link to me--so how did you get here?

Put Porn In It's Place:  A proposal to control web sites which contain so-called adult material--that euphemism for the adolescent pap that passes for sexuality in the seamy side of the world.

Ban Spam:  A proposal to control unsolicited electronic mail by requiring a pre-existing relationship between the sender and the recipient.

Protect the Freedom to Link:  A proposal to prevent any legal limitations on links from any site to any other site.

Mandate Privacy Policies:  A proposal to require sites which collect personal information to state how it will be used, and to be held to that statement.

Stop Domain Speculators:  A proposal to prevent the sale of domain names between private parties, so that such names cannot be acquired as a commodity.

Unmask Mystery Webmasters:  A proposal to require all web page publishers to reveal their identities in an easily-accessed standard format.

Protect Personal Information:  A proposal to limit what information about individuals can be published on the Internet by requiring their permission to post it.

Close Libel Loopholes:  A proposal to clarify who is responsible for the content of material published on web pages, sent via electronic mail, posted on news groups, or otherwise spread on the Internet.

No New Taxes:  A proposal to prevent any nation, state, or locality from taxing Internet activities or revenues until jurisdictional questions are settled.

Create a U. N. Net:  A proposal to create and empower an international body to regulate the Internet, which would have the authority to make law binding in all countries with Internet connections.

  Those are the proposals, and the links to my thoughts.  I welcome yours, and hope that if you answer the C-Net survey, you will give some thought to all sides of the issue.  I regret that I could not find the C-Net survey last time I looked; it may still exist in some hidden corner of their site, or it may have passed into history--but since the issues are still hot, the ideas presented are still worth examining.

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