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San Juan Gossip Mills Outlet

A veritable fanatic of the Internet. His avocation is teaching while his main vocation is practicing the much maligned law profession. Currently teaching Constitutional Law at the FEU Institute of Law and a guest lecturer at the De La Salle University teaching "Freedom and Regulation in Cyberspace" in the Graduate Program of the Department of Communication. He is married to his beautiful Ateneo law school classmate and is blessed with a daughter and a son.

Location: San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Yahoo's Board of Censors

Recently, I was sent an email invite to join our high school alumni yahoogroup. While I am already a member of my batch’s website, I decided to register in the mother alumni group.

After registering, I browsed through the site and I noticed that pre-approval was required before the messages will be posted. While Yahoo gives the owner of the site the right to review and pre-approve the messages before posting, I considered that requirement as prior restraint.

So, I sent my first message to the yahoo group which while thanking them also raise the concern about censorship. And true to their caveat, my message came out more than a day after sending the message.

I decided to unsubscribe from my alumni yahoogroup because requiring messages to be pre-approved constitute censorship and prior restraint. I received circuitously an email from the moderator informing me that pre-approval of messages was necessary because of their past experience with viruses.

Could you imagine if the whole internet was subject to pre-approval in theguise of virus protection? That would have slowed down the wealth ofinformation we now have access to. The more prudent thing to do on a possible virus infection is to take out the member whose computer has been unknowingly infected, or whose name has been hijacked, or is the unwitting source of spam and to run your anti-virus software regularly. That would have been a preferred course of action.

I am not saying I do not believe their reasoning but the point is a virus is a technical problem which can be remedied technically. Censorship is just a step way too drastic for me to accept. Maybe, it is my legal background that compels me to nitpick about censorship and freedom.

And my other point is that removing a virus requires no discretion on the moderator to act, i.e., once he sees a virus, it has to be removed and no one will question his motives. But allowing a message to pass through or not requires discretion on the moderator. He can say that a message is too vulgar, too uncouth, or too unbecoming for the site. But what would be his basis for saying so? The Bible, Playboy, Miss Manners? We don’t even know the moderators’ standards. Quite frankly, at the bottom of this discussion is really the basic issue on our constitutional rights to free speech. Anyway, so as not to ruffle any feathers in the general populace of the alumni yahoogroup, I have unsubscribed and I have no plans of visiting the site.

It is a sad commentary on my alumni yahoogroup that pre-approval was ordained to prevent a virus takeover. But between a virus takeover and loss of constitutional freedoms, I would prefer a virus destroy my PC (I hope not so backup your files) rather than toil in an atmosphere where you always have to look over your shoulders. I did not go to EDSA One to liberate ourselves from tyranny only to be excised in a yahoogroup by a moderator whom I do not even know or have not even seen. That is plain and simple censorship.

Let us not allow intellectual pygmies to lord it over us and our hard fought freedoms. To paraphrase William Wallace: They can take away my virus but they can’t take away my FREEDOMMMM! Let freedom ring forever in the land!


Blogger Punzi said...

I agree. That virus excuse is nothing more than that. An excuse.

I do suppose that Yahoo! already has virus protection built-in since it cannot afford to have its servers, or any part thereof, infected in any way.

But then again...these are private fora and... you know where I'm going...

Anyway, given this, you did the right thing in just unsubscribing and blogging about it. That's the way I would do it.

That's my motto: "Disagree? Then blog about it too..." in one's own blog.

9:32 AM  

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