Re: Freedom of information (was Re: FWD: Jaron on 9/11)

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Tue Oct 09 2001 - 17:01:47 MDT

On Tue, Oct 09, 2001 at 01:47:11PM -0400, Smigrodzki, Rafal wrote:
> ### How about allowing for time-limited embargoes on certain specific data
> (not broad classes or media), if requested by a government agency, with the
> initial period of secrecy granted by a judge? Once that time is over the
> data must be placed in the public domain and a jury (or more precisely, a
> group of adult citizens chosen randomly, not pre-selected by attorneys)
> would decide if the embargo was placed in good faith, and if the agency
> should be punished (by fines or restrictions on the use of secrecy).

Sounds like a workable system. Self-enforcing contracts might make it
possible to implement using strong crypto (is there any good protocol
for time release of information? Ideally, we want a system that makes a
document unreadable until a pre-set time. Right now I can only think
of depositing the split key at a trusted parties that release it at an
agreed time)
> As long as the judicial system and the jury selection are not corrupt or
> impotent, the system should work, offering benefits in conflicts with
> entities disdainful of fair play, while avoiding harm to innocent
> individuals.

But the real problem is when you have interactions across multiple
legislations. If I get hold of interesting pictures of Bin Laden's pet
kitten and want to publish them, but the US military thinks this is a
bad thing for some reason, do they have the right to interfere in my
Swedish freedom of speech? Part of this could be managed by bilateral
and multilateral treaties for mutual legal interfaces, but it doesn't
seem likely to work across *all* jurisdictions.

> If this fails, it means that the average
> citizens (as selected for jury duty) no longer care about freedom of
> expression - and in that case the society is doomed, no matter how good are
> the written laws protecting this freedom.

True. But in that case, it is important to make sure freedom of
expression cannot be stopped, because a doomed society without freedom
is far more likely to end in bloodbath than one where people can point
out the danger or at least organise to handle the coming disaster.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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