Saturday, September 15, 2012

YouTube says TOS rules vary according to laws and cultures of receiving countries, not those governing speakers

News reports since Friday indicate that YouTube has no plans to reconsider the legitimacy of controversial videos that composed “Innocence of Muslims” with regard to its TOS rules.

The company said that the video seemed to “attack” Islamic religious beliefs but not Muslim people.  One could probably wonder if a physically deceased (in the usual secular sense) religious historical figure (or prophet) would quality as a “person”. 

The Obama administration had reportedly asked it to review its own TOS rules with regard to the video, and many bloggers (including myself) had posed TOS questions.

The company does disable content in countries where it could be illegal according to specific local law (as with Nazi materials in Germany), where it knows there is extreme cultural sensitivity, or an unusual security issue.  Controversial content is often user-generated, and material acceptable in one community often is not in another.

The New York Times has a recent story on p. A10 of the Saturday Sept. 15 New York Times, by Claire Cain Miler, here

Michael Walsh has a similar, if shorter, story in the New York Daily News here

The company also noted that it could never prescreen all uploads, because of overwhelming user volume, an issue well known from the SOPA debate. 

Again, as noted Thursday, people (including those in mobs that weak governments have trouble controlling overseas) do not grasp the idea that people can speak  or broadcast themselves so publicly without government censorship, and expect that governments of other countries can be expected to restrain their citizens and companies.   (They may grasp what China does more easily that they can understand the way we value freedom of expression.) This could cause delicate political, economic or security issues down the road.  

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