The Corner

“Empowering and democratizing but…”

After my travails up in Canada at the hands of the thought police, the drawing-a-line-striking-a-balance lingo here sounds very familiar. Britain’s “Culture Secretary” discusses the dangerously unregulated Internet:

This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.

So what’s he got in mind?

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Andy Burnham says he believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama’s incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites…

Giving film-style ratings to individual websites is one of the options being considered, he confirms.

That proposal’s so stupid and unwieldy it’s surely a shoo-in. Whoops, I hope my naked contempt hasn’t just nudged NRO from PG-13 to R. What else?

Mr Burnham said: “If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now… This isn’t about turning the clock back. The internet has been empowering and democratising in many ways but we haven’t yet got the stakes in the ground to help people navigate their way safely around.”

Gosh, that sounds awfully “helpful”.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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