Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Cyber Civil War


We often talk about the internet as being borderless, as if it were a country. Maybe it is.

Even countries predicated on the grand concept of the internet can have problems.

What happens if/when the EU enacts laws which allows victims of terrorism or racism to sue the platform, ISP or hosting company connected to the transmission of the hate or terrorism. Think of the Ford Motor Company being sued because their cars were used as  in a robbery or a bombing.  When faced with untold millions of dollars in lawsuits and court costs, what would a  company do? One answer is to leave Europe.

What would happen if Google, Facebook or Twitter suddenly closed all their offices in Europe and decided to take their chances as solely US entities, responsible solely to US law? Not happening? Already is. Wikipedia, has no offices outside the US..This is a conscience move to protect their content. For all their massive info source, on a world of topics, they are not beholding to any law other than the US. North Korean law does not apply,  EU law does not apply, only US domestic law.

This is only possible because Wikipedia is a foundation. They weren't created to make money, just luckily happens sometimes. But if the major online services were faced with a profit gutting threat, how hard would it be for them to rationalize retreating behind the first amendment?

What would happen? Would countries in Europe and Asia start blocking US IP addresses? Possibly. France threatened to block all of Yahoo and Amazon if the companies didn't better manage their content to reflect French law.  Would Twitter or Facebook refuse to accept traffic and users French IP addresses? Who knows.

It is all starting to sound like an all-out war with embargoes, espionage and attacks and counter attacks. Except that a war in our new internet based boarderless country is simply a civil war. Civil wars though, are always painful, wasteful and rarely end well.


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