The Convergence Bill draft has opened a fresh debate on the rights
of the Government to impose laws that try to regulate Communication for
the purpose of preserving "Cultural Heritage". In practical manifestation
this would mean that the broadcast media would have a code imposed by the
Regulator which prescribes what cannot be broadcast to the public and if
violated what punishments can be imposed to the violator.
The libertarians are opposed to this move since this would mean "Censorship".
Let's for the time being restrict our discussions only to control of "Obscenity"
on the media.
Presently a huge debate is going on in the American market against a
proposed Bill to protect Children from exposure to Porno content on the
Internet. The proposal is to make it mandatory for all public Libraries
getting funds from the Government to install "Porno control software" (e.g.:
Net Nanny) and regulate the access to "Adult Sites".
This debate is also relevant in India where the moral standards are
even more strict. Some people feel that any form of regulation is an assault
on human freedom and the state has no role in imposing their verdict on
what is essentially a domain of Parental control. They argue that it is
the Parent who needs to decide what his child can or cannot see, and he
is capable of exercising this control.
Another school of thought feel that the Parents are not capable of exercising
this control even though a majority of them consider that such a
control is necessary.
This debate of whether Children should be "Protected" against exposure
to Pornography and whether they should have the right to chose their own
options is a never ending one.
It is not possible to find a solution to this argument since it hinges
on the basic premise of "Why do we need laws at all?".
Every legal provision is an infringement of freedom of some body. Take
the Napster Case. While 20 million members of the society approve and
want the service, a section including the law enforcers donot want
it and consider it un-desirable in the larger interest of the society.
The same argument goes for Human Rights also. Every act of terrorism
brings forth a backlash from the Regulators which Human Right Practitioners
consider it un-desirable. Every act of terrorism is itself a "human Rights
Violation" but the activists only classify the counter measures of security
forces as real "Human Rights Violation". There can be lot more examples
of such nature.
Let's therefore accept that the society for whom the laws are made and
by whom the laws are made will consist of both kinds of people those who
want their children to be protected and the others who abhor any "Cultural
How do we resolve this Conflict?
One option is "Democratic Resolution". Let's go for the majority. However
has this principle not been given the boot in the Napster Case?
If we cannot go by the Democratic rule, can we have the "Opt In"
Let there be regulation in the first place. Those parents who donot
want their children to be regulated, can issue "Adult Identities" which
can hold a pass for un restricted access to Adult sites.
To make this regulation easy, let us also support the Creation of TLD
.xxx and create a "Red Light Area" on the Cyber Space
entry to which is controlled by an "Adult Key".
I am sure that there will be further debate on whether there should
be "Opt in" or "Opt out" facility even if this suggestion of a "Red Light
Area" in Cyber Space is accepted.
However, considering the sentiments of those who think that "Irreparable
Damage will be caused to the Psyche of a Child" if they are prematurely
exposed to Pornography and Violence of a certain nature, and since this
section may be in a majority over the world, let us support the general
ban with "Opt in" through Parental control as a possible solution to the
Do we have alternate views?
Your views can
be sent here