Ana Viseu on 22 Nov 2000 21:30:45 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Yahoo, the regulator

[Here is an article from ZDNet on the topic of Yahoo! vs. French state, I 
think it complements Geert's post on Yahoo! as a regulator. Ana]
By David Coursey;ZDNet News; 2000, November 22;

Why does Yahoo! think it's above French law?

You have to make some tough choices when you're an Internet portal these days.

Take Yahoo!, which seems to have decided that Nazis aren't dangerous but 
pedophiles are; therefore, the company is getting after the pedophiles 
while defending people who want to sell swastikas where they aren't wanted.

The stories describing this weird state of affairs are right here and here 
on ZDNet News. I found one a little above the other on the home page 
yesterday and couldn't resist the rich irony they present.

In the first story, Yahoo! UK installs a moderator to chase pedophiles out 
of chat rooms. In the other, Yahoo! bemoans the French government's steps 
against its auctions of Nazi regalia -- even on the American Yahoo! site.

It's hard to oppose chasing predators off the chat rooms. It's not like 
they won't go someplace else, but anything that makes it a little more 
difficult for sick people to prey on children is fine by me.

It's easy for me to side with the French on the Nazi issue. If Yahoo! 
thinks it's too good to play by French rules, then French ISPs should 
filter all of Yahoo! out and their French site shut down -- forcibly, if 
need be.

Rule of law

No, it doesn't bother me that this means erecting a border on the Internet. 
I am all for the Internet losing out to the sovereignty of nations. That 
is, I believe, the only way the Internet will develop its full potential -- 
by respecting local laws where its users live.

Yahoo! wants to have it both ways. It wants a global Internet, but it 
doesn't want to deal with the conflicts that causes. Sure, Yahoo! France 
doesn't sell Nazi material in its auctions. But, the American 
site, hardly stops at our borders. And if the French find it offensive, 
that's Yahoo!'s problem.

After all, who is Yahoo! to tell the French they don't have the right to 
decide what's best for them and take steps to enforce their laws?

The French are, for reasons easy to understand, sensitive about all things 

As are the Germans, whose fear of a repeat of the 1930s and 40s has led 
them into a fight with a software company run by a member of the Church of 

As I supported Germany's right to enforce its laws, I likewise side with 
the French.

Yahoo! seems to be arguing on principle. At least I hope it isn't because 
the company is too lazy or stupid to fix its software to make the French 
happy. Amazon and eBay don't have trouble with the French because they've 
taken what seem like reasonable steps to comply with French law. Like the 
wise man said, "It's only software."

The French are right, and Yahoo! is wrong. And that should have been the 
end of the story a long time ago. But today it looks like we can expect a 
protracted court fight, perhaps ending up before American judges as well 
and European ones.

I'd like to see your comments on where the Internet stops and local laws -- 
and taxes -- should begin.

Tudo vale a pena se a alma nao e pequena.

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