I think one of the biggest frustrations I have with the internet in whole is the proliferation of misguided or flat our wrong interpretations of our constitutional freedoms.
To be blunt – They don’t apply here.
The large majority of internet content is hosted on privately owned servers and accessed via privately owned physical networks. You have no right to access this content. The content providers have the right to give you access to it, and you have the right (within the confines of legality) to access this information, but that is where the line is drawn.
Some people don’t understand this arrangement, so I’ll try to clarify. Without using the “fire in a crowded theater” analogy.
Ok – Let’s put this in the scale of my little world. This is my live journal. For all intents and purposes, my LJ is a private enterprise paid for and controlled by me. I am the arbiter of the content contained within. I give my readers the option of posting comments, but I have the ability to remove such comments without notice or warning whenever I wish. I have violated no laws here. This is MY space.
Now…let’s say I’m standing on a street corner saying the same things I say in my LJ. If one of you were to come up to me and say something I didn’t like, I have no right to tell you that you can’t. I can’t stop you, and the law will not interfere unless you are being a threat or a nuisance. In other words, I can’t keep you from respectfully disagreeing with me, but you can be arrested if you are screaming at the top of your lungs that I’m a fucking moron. You aren’t being censored for what you say, in that case, you’re being arrested for being a disturbance.
This is why Martin Luther King, Jr. taught civil disobedience. If you’re going to get arrested, it should be for violating an unjust law – Not for being an asshole.
There has been talk recently about Blizzard violating the Fourth Amendment by installing spyware along with World of Warcraft.
Let me be clear again – The people who are saying this do not understand what the Right to Privacy is.
If you were required, by law, to install World of Warcraft on your machine and, in doing so, have your personal usage information transmitted to the government that would be a violation of your right to privacy. But you aren’t. You do not HAVE to play World of Warcraft. You don’t HAVE to agree to the Terms of Service that state, quite clearly, that Blizzard will monitor the activity of your machine while you are playing the game. The Constitution Of The United States Of America does not, in any way, guarantee you the right to play World of Warcraft.
Our Freedoms, by and large, are controlled by private enterprise. Like it or not, there is very little we do outside of our own personal space that cannot be censored in some way by the people who own whatever medium we are doing it on.
Let’s not forget one other thing – Everything you do on the internet is tracked, and can be reported to the government. Again, private enterprise is involved here. My content is served to me by Road Runner, and if at any point they want to tell the Feds that I’ve been looking at clown porn sites they are more than welcome to. I did so on their servers, and what they do with that information is up to them. To their credit, in several cases when providers were asked to provide this information they have refused to do so out of concern for the privacy of their customers, but that was entirely their prerogative (and largely influenced by not wanting to lose business, I’d imagine). When that has happened the fed had to go to court to gain access to the information.
Or just use the Patriot Act.
Ahem…you wanna talk about violations of freedom?
So yeah – If you’re playing World of Warcraft Blizzard is spying on you. There is no crime here. No foul. The fact that they are doing so is clearly outlined in their Terms of Service, which you have to agree to if you want to play the game. If you’ve read it you have no reason to be surprised, and if you agreed to it without reading it you have no right to complain. Besides, if you didn’t trust them with your personal information why would you have given them your credit card numbers in the first place????
Hahhaah! I made a big post about freedom and turned it into a post about Warcraft! And you all thought you were getting real content! Suckers!!!