Alex raises some important questions. My thoughts are that there is an opportunity for innovation here, but also a collective action problem.
On one hand, I think that the new web is about transparent identity, which requires a certain amount of disclosure and mutual sharing of info. But we don’t have the standards and the trusted intermediaries we need. We also haven’t established clear principals that I own my data and that value derived from it should somehow flow back to me; nor the mechanisms to make that principal a reality.
So is the solution a technical one, matter of personal choice and education or regulatory? I don’t know, but it is an interesting and increasingly important problem area in need of new ideas.
A recent example of this chilling effect when netneutrality.ca, an activist site arguing for Internet network neutrality principles to be protected in Canada, was taken down after the site’s owner Kevin McArthur was targeted by an undisclosed plaintiff. For a couple of months, the site languished and the dialogue about this important issue was stifled as a new home was sought for the site. It was only brought back to life when Michael Geist took it over and was prepared to defend it. However, there has been no real activity since, and its founding voice appears lost.
These suits are known as SLAPPs, “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation”. California has enacted an anti-SLAPP statute to offer defendants an early option to strike the complaint on free speech grounds.
Not every issue has a law professor willing to step into the fray and draw the fire. Legitimate public discourse and a vibrant democracy requires the freedom to express opinions, and Canada’s democracy is endangered by anything that threatens speech. Canada needs more free speech and a more engaged electorate able to find its voice and embrace new forms of expression like the web.
I encourage you to learn more about the state of libel law in Canada, it’s chilling effect on political speech and the impact to the Canadian blogosphere. Check out LIBELCHILL.ca.
The Toronto BarCamp scene is one of the most vibrant in the world. Until recently Toronto was also the most active Facebook network in the world. So what happens when you bring the two together: a massive gathering of developers and others who can’t get enough of all things Facebook and with an itch to create.
Unfortunately, a huge pile of work waiting for my return and my status as a non-developer TorCamper kept me away. With a 400 capacity crowd in MaRS’ main auditorium plus a 70-person overflow room with closed-circuit coverage, they certainly didn’t need another warm body. Congratulations to the organizers and presenters on a milestone event.