Jump to content

Recommended Posts

On this Forum, it is well known & openly declared that freedom of speech does not exist.

Is it legal?

 

I had a look at the wikipedia article about freedom of speech in which it is mentioned that:

 

"The right to freedom of speech is recognized as a human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and recognized in international human rights law in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The ICCPR recognizes the right to freedom of speech as "the right to hold opinions without interference. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression."[1][2] Furthermore freedom of speech is recognized in European, inter-American and African regional human rights law."

 

especially interesting is the part about the Internet, where nothing is mentioned about moderation into specialized Forums.

 

I guess the Staff must have a legal advisor that could answer the question.

Edited by michel123456

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rights are between an individual and a government. SFN isn't a government. You are (or should be) free to express your opinions, but that doesn't mean you can do so just anywhere. Public areas and your own property, but not someone else's property. If you show up expressing your views on someone else's property, they can ask you (and force you) to leave. It can be because they don't agree or because you are being disruptive, or any reason at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Rights are between an individual and a government. SFN isn't a government. You are (or should be) free to express your opinions, but that doesn't mean you can do so just anywhere. Public areas and your own property, but not someone else's property. If you show up expressing your views on someone else's property, they can ask you (and force you) to leave. It can be because they don't agree or because you are being disruptive, or any reason at all.

 

The question is really about legality.

When subscribing to this Forum, we must agree the rules. It is a kind of agreement, a contract between the member & the Forum's staff. My question is about the legality of an agreement that goes against a Human Right. IIRC you cannot make any contract that goes against the Law.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This forum is private property. We are invited to discuss certain topics here and are given a great deal of freedom in doing so, but that doesn't mean anyone has a right to do so. Not allowing someone to use this property to say something is not a restriction of their ability to say it elsewhere, just like stopping you from drawing on the side of my house is not a violation of freedom of speech, and I certainly think any court anywhere would agree.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The rules don't breach the law on human rights because you can always leave the forum.

It is commonplace for local rules to infringe on what would normally be seen as rights.

For example I have seen plenty of pubs where wearing football colours is forbidden.

Perhaps a more widespread example is that, I believe, you need to wear a uniform if you work in McDonald's.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Freedom of speech is explained by some people as "I can say whatever the hell I want, whenever, wherever"... which is just silly.

 

There are a lot of things that you shouldn't say, because the other person or group just doesn't like it...

 

For example, I can think that my boss is not functioning. As long as I keep that to myself, it's fine. As soon as I say it in public (behind his back), I can jeopardize my career. And if I say it to him in his face, without the necessary politeness and without backing up my point, I might as well be fired... and if I would call anyone in our company names, then I lose my job instantly. It's just not done.

 

People who explain the "freedom of speech" as the "freedom to insult" just haven't understood it.

 

If you call someone an a**hole on the street, and you get into trouble because of that, you have yourself to blame... not the other person because he doesn't respect your freedom of speech. If you call someone else's mother a b*tch, you will again have yourself to blame for the trouble you find yourself in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question is really about legality.

When subscribing to this Forum, we must agree the rules. It is a kind of agreement, a contract between the member & the Forum's staff. My question is about the legality of an agreement that goes against a Human Right. IIRC you cannot make any contract that goes against the Law.

 

The right to free speech means that a government cannot suppress your speech. It says nothing about whether you an enter into a voluntary agreement to abide by rules as a condition of participation, or other examples given above..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The right to free speech means that a government cannot suppress your speech. It says nothing about whether you an enter into a voluntary agreement to abide by rules as a condition of participation, or other examples given above..

Is that why governments are kindly requesting Internet Service Providers (private companies) to block content, rather than doing it themselves? >:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The question is really about legality.

When subscribing to this Forum, we must agree the rules. It is a kind of agreement, a contract between the member & the Forum's staff. My question is about the legality of an agreement that goes against a Human Right. IIRC you cannot make any contract that goes against the Law.

 

1. Whilst I wish the UDofHR was law, it is not. Within EU the EConventionHR can have the power of law within certain states - other states have included HR legislation.

2. In jurisdictions where it is law; Legislation like this acts on the state, on state bodies and other organisation that fulfil a function of the state - the SFN are none of these.

3. You are correct that no contract can be validly made to break criminal/civil law - however it is quite ok to sign away some of your rights within a contractual situation (we all do so regularly)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

While human rights usually do not bind private parties, but just restrain government action with respect to individuals, private contracts made in violation of human rights will not be enforced by courts in jurisdictions recognizing those rights, on the grounds that the contracts are 'contrary to public policy.' Thus you could make a private contract with someone to be your slave, but if you tried to enforce that contract in the courts of almost any jurisdiction, the contract, together with all its obligations and penalties for breach, would be declared a nullity. This could conceivably affect even this forum if there arose a dispute between someone posting here and the administration, provided that a court found that there was some sort of implicit contractual relation between the parties in the first place.

 

Also, some jurisdictions do have systems of human rights which bind private parties rather than just the government in interaction with private parties. In German constitutional law this can arise under the so-called 'Drittwirkung der Rechte,' and in Canada the federal and provincial Human Rights Codes apply solely to private party interactions.

 

This forum could claim to be governed only by the jurisdiction in which it is headquartered, but different countries have different ideas about how they can seize jurisdiction of foreign broadcasts affecting people protected by their rights regimes. A useful way to avoid problems in advance is just to require all people using the forum to waive any and all claims to enforce their rights against the forum administrators as a condition of use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"you could make a private contract with someone to be your slave, but if you tried to enforce that contract in the courts of almost any jurisdiction, the contract together with all its obligations and penalties for breach, would be declared a nullity. "

The only way to try to enforce that contract would be by threat of violence or some such. That threat would be unlawful anyway.

The contract would not be void because it contravenes the HR act, but because it would be impossible to enforce. Any attempt at legal redress (like suing them for breach of contract) would fall flat because it is a breach of the contracts act (which requires contracts to be "reasonable").

 

The contract here on this forum is different.

It's perfectly simple for the owner of the website to block someone and delete their postings if he wishes to do so.

 

Most jurisdictions would permit me to eject someone from my house for saying something I didn't like.

In the same way, they would let me throw you off my website if I didn't like what you said.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Rights are between an individual and a government. SFN isn't a government. You are (or should be) free to express your opinions, but that doesn't mean you can do so just anywhere. Public areas and your own property, but not someone else's property. If you show up expressing your views on someone else's property, they can ask you (and force you) to leave. It can be because they don't agree or because you are being disruptive, or any reason at all. [/Quote]

 

swansont, that's totally incorrect; Rights are not something that stop at the doorstep of another's property line, especially when that property is a public place. Technically, I can think of a dozen, so called rules on ANY forum, that would not pass a legal challenge, but as with most Internet projects, would be impractical, if not impossible to actually challenge. I won't even get into "due process", which is totally ignored...

 

The point and question, I believe this thread is questioning is moderation and one which should be looked at, by the real owners of this "for profit BUSINESS". Subjective moderation or applying rules to fit ones personal opinion, sometimes agenda, is certainly unethical and should not be tolerated, IMO. If those owners and/or investors fail in this obligation, the end results are and always have been or will be failure.

 

I'm not posting this for any specific reason, but when you say "or for any reason", then apply a legal justification, speaking for the owners, your probably over stepping your authority. It's always amazed me, why so many people (posters) will actually take the time and post, sometimes for years, up to maybe 10,000 post and in the end be arbitrarily dismissed as someone not qualified to post. Would you care to legally justify this action, in any court of law??? Said another way, you CAN ban, bar access, anybody, anytime and for any or no reason, but that in itself dose not make it legal and Marat in any US jurisdiction. Recourse is available, but only an idiot would take such a case, even to a Forum's registered address, much less file a complaint/charge with the FCC, I would think.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do I have to publish the password to my homepage so that everyone can edit it? Or my password on arXiv, in case someone has a different opinion on my personal data that he wants to communicate to the world?

Edited by timo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

swansont, that's totally incorrect;

 

Totally incorrect? Rights have absolutely nothing to do with the government? Gosh, I totally misinterpreted that whole "Congress shall make no law" thingy in the Bill of Rights.

 

Nah. Looks to me like they are all limits on government power.

 

Rights are not something that stop at the doorstep of another's property line, especially when that property is a public place. Technically, I can think of a dozen, so called rules on ANY forum, that would not pass a legal challenge, but as with most Internet projects, would be impractical, if not impossible to actually challenge. I won't even get into "due process", which is totally ignored...

 

If you will notice I did prominently mention public places where the rights can be exercised. And I'm intrigued by your implication that I would not have the power to keep someone off my property for any reason at all. I keep seeing "no trespassing" signs. They don't mean anything?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The legal reason (in common law jurisdictions) why you can throw people visiting you out of your house is because they are defined by the law as having the legal status of 'invitees,' that is, persons who are not trespassing only because they are present at your invitation. As soon as you withdraw your permission, they cease to be invitees and have a legal obligation to leave immediately. You can't use any more force to eject them, however, than is reasonably necessary if they are not compliant, otherwise you can be sued for the intentional tort of battery, or you might even be subject to criminal prosecution.

 

An interestingly ambiguous case is presented by the walkway, front steps, and porch leading up to your house, which while being your private property, are also deemed to imply a general invitation to all unless that implication is withdrawn. So people can approach your front door without trespassing, unless you have somehow put them on notice that you withdraw the implicit capacity of the entryway to your residence to confer on all who approach the status of invitees.

 

But while private rights (property, tort, contract, restitution) are at play here, constitutional rights are not -- unless you eject someone because of racial prejudice, and then in a jurisdiction like Canada you could be prosecuted by the Human Rights Commission for private discrimination even without any government involvement.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your right to freedom of speech does not mean that you can force us to publish multiple copies of your speech. Nor do our forum rules forbid you from speaking freely wherever you so choose. You can even speak freely to our forum software when you are banned, all that means is that the forum software will ignore it. You can speak freely and we are not required to repeat your speech, as should be.

 

On a different note, we are not a public carrier like a phone company. By having chosen what content we repeat on our site we become somewhat responsible for the content of our site, for example we have to take down copyright violations. A public carrier on the other hand does not interfere with the content no matter how illegal it may be, and bears no responsibility for illegal content. If we did that our website would be full of flamewars and other trash, if you could see any of that under the pile of spam.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

looking at the ze rules, the only one that could be contrary to your FoS would be rule 3:

 

# Keep posts legal.

 

* References to the personal commitment of an illegal activity are forbidden, with the following qualifications:

o References to drug use are not permissible unless the references are scientific or otherwise useful as part of a discussion.

o References involving felonies are not acceptable and will be removed.

o Discussion of methods to circumvent restrictions made at any level, including school Internet filtering or parental controls, is prohibited.

* Discussion relating to hazardous or illegal chemicals or procedures is prohibited, unless the discussion:

o Is legal to disclose to the general public under the laws of the United Kingdom,

o Contains a warning of the potential hazards,

o Contains a warning describing the legality of the procedure.

 

If it is a legal requirement of us (and all other webforums) to censor these things, then there's no public forum where you can discuss them, and your FoS has been curtailed.

 

iow, if it's illegal to say on a website 'I smoke crack', then you can't say that anywhere online (which seems counter to the right to free speech); if it's merely a local rule, then you just can't say it here, which is fine (just go somewhere else to say it).

 

btw, me and cap'n broke S2:3a(iii) a while back, and it's not as if we actually enforce a ban on discussing tor (etc), so maybe we should remove that bit (or change it to "at a sub-ISP level"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are interesting differences in the law governing websites. For example, if in Canada you were to say, "No Blacks are allowed to post on this forum," someone could sue you for violation of the Federal Human Rights Act's anti-discrimination provision and you could be forced to pay a fine or the website could be blocked from transmission in Canada. This would be true even though no government action was involved in the discriminatory act of posting that website rule.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are interesting differences in the law governing websites. For example, if in Canada you were to say, "No Blacks are allowed to post on this forum," someone could sue you for violation of the Federal Human Rights Act's anti-discrimination provision and you could be forced to pay a fine or the website could be blocked from transmission in Canada. This would be true even though no government action was involved in the discriminatory act of posting that website rule.

Citation needed.

 

There are legal issues related to websites such as this. For example, the Maldives Scuba Diving, Pvt. LTD et al v. Intermedia Publications, Inc. et al lawsuit and the actions by Righthaven, LLC. Both of these can only force forum owners and moderators to be even more vigilant over what is posted on their forums.

 

A person who writes a letter to a newspaper editor has no right to expect that that letter will be printed. It is the newspaper owners, not the letter write, who has the freedom of speech. There is only one way to ensure one's words will be printed in a newspaper: Start your own newspaper. The exact same situation arises at forums such as this. Members at forums such as this have do not have they freedom to post as they wish. The only people who truly do have freedom of speech at this site are the owners. You want freedom of speech? Start your own website. The issue of freedom of speech would arise if and only if some government made a law that restricted what the owners of a newspaper, or a website, can say.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

(...)A person who writes a letter to a newspaper editor has no right to expect that that letter will be printed. It is the newspaper owners, not the letter write, who has the freedom of speech. There is only one way to ensure one's words will be printed in a newspaper: Start your own newspaper. The exact same situation arises at forums such as this.(...)

 

I looks to me there is a difference here. On a Forum like this, Moderators cannot act prior to publication. The Forum is somehow obliged to accept anything and then must deal with the "trash". Whish is not an easy work to do.

 

What I really do not appreciate is the act of deleting posts. Moderators have the ability to send posts in the trash can, and they can ban members.

I don't understand the use of deleting, IMHO it is like saying "that trash never existed, it never happened". The trash-poster gets pissed, and other forum members live in an ideal world. It is like wearing blinders with sunglasses.

 

And from a legal point of vue, when a country protects HR in its juridiction, I suspect that juridiction goes into any compartment without exception. Liberty of Speech exists in your house also, at work & at church. Otherwise it lis like saying entering a house, an enterprise or a church, you diminish your own rights, you become less human, and that is not the case. Of course, the way you use this right is up to you, it may come in conflict with others people right, and you may encounter problems. You may be driven outside but no-one has the right to make you shut up. And deleting posts is a manner of making people shut up.

Edited by michel123456

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And from a legal point of vue, when a country protects HR in its juridiction, I suspect that juridiction goes into any compartment without exception. Liberty of Speech exists in your house also, at work & at church. Otherwise it lis like saying entering a house, an enterprise or a church, you diminish your own rights, you become less human, and that is not the case.

Suppose an atheist goes to a church and, in the middle of the sermon, starts shouting loudly that the God the parishioners worship is a fraud. Or suppose a fundamentalist goes to a meeting of some atheist organization and starts shouting loudly that the members will burn in Hell. Neither has any right to freedom of speech in those venues. The only expectation either one should have is that they will be tossed, maybe vigorously, that they may be arrested for disturbing the peace, and that they may be sued for harassment.

 

Your right to freedom of speech ends at the moment you leave the public sidewalk. Once you enter private property you have no such rights. Even on the public sidewalk your rights are not absolute. If you make a lot of noise at 1AM in a neighborhood you can be arrested for disturbing the peace. If you and a whole bunch of people get together to hold some protest at 1PM but do not obtain the necessary permit the whole lot of you can be arrested for disturbing the peace. What the government cannot do is refuse to grant you the necessary permit because they don't like what they think you will be saying.

 

 

The owners, administrators, and moderators of an internet forum focused on science face a dilemma: Do they take an open or closed stance regarding fringe/nonstandard/completely whacked science? Both sides of the dilemma have advantages and disadvantages. The closed stand risks missing the boat on what truly is a major scientific breakthrough but has a much greater chance of having real discussions of science. The open stance risks having all energy going into arguing over nonsense, with no real discussion of science, but allows the possibility of a major breakthrough being discussed at their site. Freedom of speech, or lack thereof, is not an issue. Almost all sites quickly and quietly delete posts that tell people where to buy knockoff designer handbags or pills that can enhance your virility.

 

 

Regarding the deletion of posts: I would prefer it if there was a whole lot more deletion of nonsense posts and banning of crackpots at this site. Almost all energy at this site goes into arguing over nonsense, leaving very little room for real discussion of science. However, since I am not the owner of this site, my desires for stronger moderation are not satisfied here. To see my desires realized, I would need to either start my own forum or go to another that better suits me. I do the latter. My posting rate is considerably lower at this site than it is elsewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
And deleting posts is a manner of making people shut up.

 

Nope. Deleting posts can't shut people up. It just means the forum is not repeating their speech. Would you rather we redesigned the banning system so they can still submit posts but get a message that says their post is rejected? Your right to freedom of speech does not translate to infringing on our right to freedom of speech (by choosing whether to repeat your speech or not). Really, would you like it if people were allowed to paint messages on your house, or force you to repeat whatever they wanted you to repeat? Is that what you think freedom of speech is?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posts that are deleted fall into a few major categories. In general order of occurrence:

 

- Spam. This is routinely deleted and result in an automatic ban. We have rules disallowing advertising, porn, etc. Yes, we shut these people up.

 

- User request. We get a message asking duplicate posts be removed. We don't generally remove posts if there is some other motive behind the request.

 

- Rules violations. Posts filled with profanity/flaming or vapid off-topic postcount-whoring when it is a distraction. IOW, we remove (some) graffiti. Your right to free speech does not mean you can spray-paint crap on my house.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Freedom of speech is not without its limits. Otherwise what is slander and libel all about?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

do you have a job? because if you do you probably signed a confidentiality agreement saying that you wouldn't talk about company secrets to the public and so on.

 

this is a legal agreement that limits what you can say.

 

well, more to the point, it does NOT limit what you can say. all it does is state that if you say such things then you will undergo some sort of punishment, from losing your job to prison depending on the nature of the breach of contract.

 

i mean, if you tell a report about a minor nonconformance to some standard your company should be operating to then you are only likely to lose your job.

 

if however you are working for the government and talk about how the government is secretly developing a new weapon then there is a real chance you'll go to prison.

 

the SFN terms and conditions do not limit what you can say, they inform you that if you behave in a certain manner(contrary to the rules) then punishments will occur. from the locking of a thread to a permanent ban.

 

i've never seen any agreement that physically stops you from saying something. just agreements saying that you agree to undergo a punishment if you do say it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.