Date: Tue, 3 Nov 1998 19:46:54
An Andy wrote,> People's publicly > stated views and public acts should be open to discussion and privacy laws > should have no bearing on them. I am not persuaded, simply because one > web administrator chooses to protest the law by shutting down a site, that > the law actually restricts online discussion. On the other hand, I have > seen clauses in proposed privacy laws that draw the line around protected > private information very broadly and could lead to absurd results.What once constituted the unquestionable line between private and public expression -- between gossip and defamation, if you like -- was, plain and simply, whether the 'victim' was there, in place, to know whether hyr good name was at risk of being slandered, and to defend it in person if it was, hand-to-hand.
To maintain the electronic equivalent of the h2h encounter, the appropriate corrective measure to apply to the information blender, I mean revolution, is the development of a protocol or encoding for each and every email handle. Wherever and whenever a name is referenced, a whereami lookup command will generate (only for its owner, of course) every occurence of the Simple Ego Link Format.
"Publicly stated views and public acts" would be open to unfettered discussion, as they should be. Only if those views and acts are associated with a SELF without permission (such as granted by list subscription), would its owner have authority to seek compensation; the message 'content' per se would have relevance only in determination of the settlement.
Naturally, the rights of 'incorporated' entitites to registered names would persist in this context. 'Time' magazine, for instance, would be free to prosecute, if it chose, every instance of the word 'Time' used anywhere or at any time - but it is easily seen that most of the time it would not find it worth their time to do so, and in fact, it is highly likely that Time, Inc, would soon decide to choose another name which could be more efficiently tracked.
Conversely, it is equally clear that URLs must be kept within the public 'free expression' domain. They do not directly reference statements or acts, only their location -- and it is location which has been problematized in cases of 'invasion' of privacy.