463 does a little project work with the Harvard Law Berkman Center for Internet & Society, but I somehow had missed running across a fascinating project of theirs called Global Voices. It's a "non-profit global citizens’ media project." Or, in other words, it's an easy way to read aggregated perspectives of sharp bloggers from places other than North America and Western Europe that you wouldn't otherwise be able to find or understand.
For example, as I write this, the home page features summaries of home-baked blog coverage of Ecuadorian Internet security and privacy concerns; opinions on the current state of affairs in Iraq; and, reports of social networking-fueled strikes in Egypt over pocketbook issues. Super interesting stuff.
What grabbed me most, though, was a thorough summary of Japanese blogger opinion on the all-too-familiar Internet content regulatory creep.
The post by Chris Salzburg explains that the two leading political parties are currently trying to out do each other with legislation aimed to regulate Internet content deemed "harmful" to minors. Moreover, despite mainstream coverage of earlier moves by Japanese officials to filter mobile content to minors and top news sites, the bloggers say that, inexplicably, there seems to be far too little attention being paid to how severe the new potential regulations could become...
Japanese bloggers have been making noise the past few days [ja] in reaction to two separate bills, submitted first by the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP) and next by the leading opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), each aiming, in apparently similar ways, to legislate regulation over Internet content deemed to be “harmful” to minors (users under age 18).
On March 19th, LDP Diet Member Takaichi Sanae submitted a bill to a government panel to legislate the “prevention of browsing on the Internet of information harmful to young people” in an attempt to maintain the “sound upbringing of young people”. Shortly thereafter on April 2nd, Diet Member Takai Miho of the Democratic Party submitted a bill with the aim to create an environment that “makes it possible for children to safely use the Internet”. According to bloggers, the bills go significantly further than earlier legislation introduced late last year, which mandated default filtering on mobile phones for minors. Nonetheless, aside from a single article in Asahi shimbun [ja] on the topic, the two bills appear to have been granted no mainstream media attention.
The bills follow on a recent trend of increasing moves toward regulation of the Internet in Japan, but according to bloggers, this time Diet Members Takaichi and Takai are going significantly further — and advancing legislation significantly faster — than in the case of earlier proposals.
Global Voices notes that one blogger raises obvious big issue in the proposed regulation:
First of all, the definition of “information harmful to young people” covers a broad range, and there are many vague expressions like “something that causes …” and “something that poses a danger of …” that can be interpreted at the discretion of the “Committee on the Promotion of Sound Upbringing of Young People"
Check out the post for more classic good intentions; really bad application of law.