Wednesday, 4 July 2007

ICANN may ban domain names to avoid causing offence

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN ) was founded in 1988 by the US Government to take over regulating key aspects of the internet's technical architecture like domain names and IP addresses. It has had a troubled history.

A recent report from a working group within ICANN called for any new domain names to be carefully regulated demanding that names should be censored according to "legal norms relating to morality and public order". Thus banning rude, abusive or culturally sensitive words.

Here we have a slippery slope. For a start exactly who’s 'rude' are we talking about? As anyone who has ever tried to market a product internationally this can be a minefield. As we all know something can be perfectly acceptable in one country that is rude, or insulting in another, even in English speaking nations, if you factor in other nations the problem multiplies.

The idea that it is ok for ICANN to appoint it’s self as global censor for the network concerns Wendy Seltzer, a fellow at the Berkman Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.

She believes ICANN should only set technical standards and avoid setting it’s self up as some sort of moral guardian of the network and it should be left to individual countries and even institutions to decide what is acceptable. The whole network should not be limited because of sectional or local interests

Regulating the internet is certainly possible, as the governments of China, the US and the UK have all demonstrated in various ways. But we don’t all want to be bound by what may be acceptable or convenient for one county. If there is to be such regulation then local control would be the least restrictive of freedom and freedom of speech and association.

The core architecture should be as open as possible, not only technologically but also in terms of any limitations of freedom of expression, not locked into a limited and politically controlled framework.

As Noam Chomsky said: "Goebbels was in favour of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you're in favour of free speech, then you're in favour of freedom of speech precisely for views you despise. Otherwise, you're not in favour of free speech."

Happy July 4th - Enjoy the Holiday.

…We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness-That to
secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any
Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of
the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…

July 4, 1776. A DECLARATION

Happy July the 4th America.

Mother donates eggs for sterile daughter

A nice, if unusual, story about Melanie Boivin in Canada. Her daughter Flavie is only seven right now, but she is sterile.

To give her the chance to have children if she wants to when she is grown her mother has donated some of her eggs to be frozen.

Egg-freezing is most often used by women undergoing lifesaving treatment that will reduce their fertility.

If Flavie does decide to use the eggs to have children, they would need to be fertilised with her partner's sperm and then implanted into her womb as with any other IVF procedure.

Not a done deal though, as she would need to apply for further permission from the McGill Reproductive Centre ‘ethics committee’.

Now, out trot the tin foil hat squad, in the form of Margaret Somerville, who heads McGill University's Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law. She is concerned about the ‘rights’ of the child (not Flavie) – still sounds ok-ish.

She asks: "What are the rights of a child not to be brought into existence in this way?

What! Sorry? Let’s replay that one: "rights" "not to be brought into existence"?

The hypothetical child is unlikely to be brought into existence at all if not in this way. What about the hypothetical rights of any child to be brought into existence in any way. No one checked with my parents if it was OK by me to conceive me, pretty cavalier of them if you ask me, thank goodness we now have Ms Somerville to ask these difficult questions for us.

Wait! There’s more: "I think here there was a lot of good intentions, but we also have to ask about that future child.”

"Can we reasonably anticipate that a child would consent to having it’s sister be its gestational mother, and to be a sister to the woman who gives birth to it?"

Presumably they are actually paying her to come up with stuff like this too.

Well given that the hypothetical child will only get to exist if that in fact happens and their other choice is never getting to exist at all what would most people choose – to be or not to be – You choose.

And no “to sleep perchance…” Not if you never existed in the first place.

A survey might give her a pointer. Would you rather never have been born?