Let's Not Start a Jihad against ISPs

McQ at QandO posts a number of examples of jihadi websites hosted on American ISPs, and goes on to urge:

If you're doing business with any of these ISPs, you may want to advise
them of your displeasure that your fees are helping support a company
that is hosting websites of avowed enemies of your nation and culture.
Granted, because these are in arabic, the ISPs may not even know what
the sites are, but now you do. Point the ISPs to the MEMRI post. Tell
them that websites which call for the killing of Americans, waging war
against us and teaching radicals how to make bombs are unacceptable.
This is not something which you must wait on government to do. These
sites need to come down and they need to come down because of
grassroots and market pressure to do so. Shut them down.

I have a number of problems with this.  Of course, in a free society, one can choose an ISP any way one likes.  However, given the nature of the Internet, this is one of those suggestions that may sort of feel good but have no chance of having any kind of impact.  Even if wildly successful, all you are going to do is drive these sites to offshore hosts, and I sure hope no one is talking about setting up Chinese-type filters and firewalls at our borders.

Further, there is nothing I like more than having my ISP blissfully ignorant of, and apathetic to, whatever it is they are hosting for me.  I DO NOT want to gear up ISP's to start reviewing and disallowing content.  That is a horribly slippery slope that will only end badly, as we have started to see with video banning at Google and YouTube.  In fact, given the precedents we have seen at YouTube, I would be willing to guess that if ISP's did start** putting a filter on sites and start** banning them based on public complaints, that McQ is not going to be happy be my sense is that their political filters are different than his.  Just look at campuses today -- many universities have defined a new right not to be offended that trumps free speech.  Do we really want to bring this horrible "innovation" to the Internet?

Finally, I think its awesome and what makes America great that we are so tolerant of speech from even the nuttiest of our worst enemies.  I had kind of hoped that GoDaddy would be on his list, just to experience the cultural irony of GoDaddy girl meets fundamentalist Islam.

** Actually, "start" is not the right word, since some undoubtedly kill certain sites when people complain.  Usually but not always today this is based more on irritating Internet behavior (e.g. spamming) rather than content of speech.  It would be more accurate to have said "substantially increase the banning of sites based on content."

  • markm

    Amen