Fox News reported on May 14, 2011 that former president Bill Clinton would like to see an Internet agency under the hospices of the United States or the United Nations to control “malicious rumors”. According to the news report, Clinton foresees an agency, with “transparent” funding, and if under the umbrella of the United States government, it would have to be “an independent federal agency that no president could countermand”.
The former president added that the agency he suggests would have to have “citations so it could be checked” for mistakes. Clinton adds that “it’s a worthy expenditure of taxpayer money”.
This is a mistake on so many levels it’s very difficult to know where to begin. Information control and censorship is the nexus to all that has caused problems to our existence from the beginning of time. Controlling information gives those in power the ability to remain in power while those without access to information remain shackled to those in power.
Clinton’s proposal is nothing more than a power grab, a way to control information regardless of his actual reasons for proposing it.
History has shown that when a man or a group of individuals is given the power to determine what is proper for others to read, this activity leads to imposing a thought pattern over the others. Even those who are supposed to benefit mankind has at one time or another harmed us when power is wielded unchecked.
On the other hand, the unbridled ability to speak or distort the truth is harmful as well. This must be acknowledged. The Internet is replete with examples of those who decide to wield power by extorting the target with malicious online manipulation. This, also, must be addressed. But, why is an agency dedicated to getting the truth from the gossip a bad idea?
It simply comes down to trust. As soon as any individual or an organization is entrusted to determine what is truth and what is a lie the power to control information is exponentially increased. Information is the cornerstone of democracy and one that must be cherished, warts and all. It is true that malicious information is harmful but as with any paradox between a good thing and a bad thing we must always default to that which empowers us rather than weakens us. Creating an agency, or an overseer, to determine what is proper is not the solution. Rather, the solution lies within ourselves, our ability to make informed decisions about the information that surrounds us.
Not all of us take the time to separate gossip from truth but that is to our own detriment and personal responsibility to ourselves dictates that we must accept the responsibility rather than abdicate our freedom to others.