My name is Adam Curry and this section will contain info about me in the future, as soon as I get a few other things done.
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Earlier in the week I watched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton give a speech at George Washington University titled: "Internet Rights and Wrongs: Choices & Challenges in a Networked World", and caught an underreported comment that warrants dissection and discussion.
About halfway she said the following: "We have also ratified the Budapest Cybercrime Convention, which sets out the steps countries must take to ensure that the internet is not misused by criminals and terrorists while still protecting the liberties of our own citizens."
This is the end of free speech online in the USA. Even if you aren't a criminal or terrorist.
For an overview of the agreement, you can peruse the wikipedia entry, but the actual document itself isn't all that hard to read and it's important everyone who writes online understand what it means you can and cannot say/write/post/blog/tweet or change your facebook status to. [do this!]
Ratification of the Budapest Cybercrime Convention means that the United states has joined Europe, Japan, Canada and China in this agreement and is now beholden to it's protocols. That's elite-speak for 'it's now the law of the land', and like the other countries that signed this agreement, we must put laws and penalties in place to uphold it.
I think most will agree that although it is technically a restriction of free speech, racist writings have no place in any modern society. Xenophobia however, is a very different animal alltogether, and although the word sounds scary and wrong, it's actual definition is quite broad: "fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign"
The dictionary that came with my MacBookPro defines xenophobia even broader: "intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries".
Words matter, especially when you are looking at them from a legal perspective, which is exactly what courts do when you are being charged with a crime.
Under the protocols laid out by the Budapest Cybercrime Convention, which will soon, or perhaps already is law in the United States, it is illegal and punishable by law to post the following scentence:
Iranians scare me.
It's debatable wether this is an irrational statement of fear. Many deem me to be an irrational person in general, which would make me guilty. For the record, Iranians don't scare me. Hillary Clinton does.
I fear this broad language, that we apparently have all signed up for, will be used to create "criminal offences under its domestic law" for what is clearly free speech.
What ever happened to: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."?