Drew Wilson Appears on Australias Radio Show ‘The Fourth Estate’

The shut down of 73,000 blogs certainly had a lot of people talking. The story made international headlines and, as a result, we here at ZeroPaid had the opportunity to talk to Australias radio show, “The Fourth Estate”

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Download MP3 (FF to 20:00 +-)

After it was revealed why 73,000 blogs were shut down, and burst.net confirmed the story that it was terrorist related activity that ultimately shut down the site, we were approached by Mig, host of the Australian radio show, “The Fourth Estate” to discuss what had happened.

I made an appearance during the segment 17 minutes in to the MP3 where I discussed why the shut down of 73,000 blogs had such a significant impact worldwide.

What I argued was that because this was in the United States, there are already implications when it comes to free speech being hampered because free speech is a highly valued freedom in the United States. Combine that with the fact that this was censorship online and you have yourself a perfect storm of controversy because free speech is a core fundamental freedom that really makes the internet tick.

It didn’t make it on to the air, but I was also asked if this could set a precedent for the future of free speech online. I argued that it really doesn’t given that it was Burst.net that ultimately pulled the plug on Blogetery’s operations. I’d say that had the FBI ordered the shut down of the site in the first place, then this case could set a precedent for online free speech, but this was clearly an administrative issue more than anything else.

That’s not to say that Burst.net was incompetent in any way. If you are a site administrator or a hosting company in the US and the FBI approached you saying that something under your watch is fueling terrorist related activities, what do you do? You are immediately put in a very stressful situation and when you are put in a stressful situation, it makes it much more difficult to think things through from all angles. How is it not a pressure filled situation when you have your own government knocking on your door anyway? Chances are, you know more about the flow of packets over a network than the Patriot Act.

This is not to say censorship is not a threat online given the more recent news of Italy’s government clamping down on written journalists and online bloggers. That has a possibility of setting a very bad precedent.

I do think, though, that in this case, other hosting services and open discussion forums on US soil should look at this case and ask, “If the FBI came knocking on the doors of my network or site, how should I react to ‘x’ demands?” Ultimately, I think other companies who haven’t put forth a set of internal procedures by now, they should do so in light of this incident. Yes, it’s all well and good to be an advocate of free speech, but one should also know that US companies have to operate with the laws that have been set in place as a result of US lawmaking.

I would like to thank Mig Caldwell, the producer of the Fourth Estate for this opportunity to make an appearance on her radio show.

More info: The Fourth Estate blog

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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