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Slashdot: FreeNet's Ian Clarke Answers Privacy Questions

Apr 10, 2000, 19:07 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ian Clarke)

"I'm all for an open forum for free speech, but this seems almost reckless. In most venues of speech, accountability for someone's words is fundamental. The Internet has opened up the possiblity of free speech without accountability to a small degree, and look at what has happened. Do you fear any legal repercussions to your group for creating this forum based on this fact?"

"Ian: Thanks for your question tcd004. The problem is that it is sometimes impossible to have free speech unless it can be delivered anonymously, since the threat of retribution can be a very effective deterrent against people stating their opinions. I would even go so far as to say that a forum which forced people to identify themselves was not permitting true free speech (This is why Slashdot allows "Anonymous Cowards" to have their say). I should further point out that there is no reason that people cannot digitally sign information they place in Freenet to indicate that they are the authors of a piece of information, but we don't force people to do that. Someone could even build up an anonymous reputation by signing all of their work with the same private key."

"My personal feeling is that liable, and liable law, assumes that people will believe everything they read. This might, to an extent, be true in this time of centralized media, but my hope is that systems like Freenet (and indeed SlashDot) will encourage people to make judgments about the reliability of information themselves rather than relying on a corruptible centralized source."

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