X-Message-Number: 16812
From: "Trygve Bauge" <>
Subject: First amendment rights versus censorship.
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2001 13:23:02 +0200

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Chris Benatar is still arguing that one should not post to usegroups, letter 
circles etc., without first getting the author's prior consent, what has been 
sent directly to one's own e-mail address.

In his defence he is reffering to http://www.dtcc.edu/cs/rfc1855.html

from which he quotes the following line:

"If the message was a personal message to you and you are re-posting to a
group, you should ask permission first."

Government officials, anyone that has something to hide and anyone wanting to 
keep a lid on information (e.g. certain cryonics groups like the one that was in
Chatworth) would love such a standard. And journalists would have a hayday 
ignoring it, debunking it or making fun of it.

My response is, to quote from the front page of the same web site: 

"This memo provides information for the Internet community. 
This memo DOES NOT (my emphasis) specify an Internet standard of any kind. "


"This document provides a minimum set of guidelines for Network Etiquette 
(Netiquette) which organizations MAY (my emphasis)  take and adapt for their own
use. "

The web page referred to does not constitute a legally binding requirement,

and if anyone tried to pass the above recommandation as a law it would soon be 
held to be an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

It is clearly that different individuals have different standards.

Personally I prefer a standard where people can repost anything even if or 
rather particularly if it is labelled confidential, as long as they have not 
signed a non disclosure form. And even those that sign such agreements, should 
be able to break such agreements, at the cost of only losing such collateral 
(property) that they in the first place voluntary have offered as security for 
keeping the confidentiality.

As to copyrighted material, anyone can legally quote from such, and anyone can 
rewrite it in their own words. The nice thing about the English language is that
it has several words for almost everything, thus making it easy to rewrite 
anything in one's own words!

Most people I deal with seem to have no problem with me quoting publicly from 
their letters to me. And in the few situations they really have something 
confidential to say, then they usually mark their letters as confidential. At 
what point I decide whether or not, for how long and in what situations to honor
such a request.

Chris today sent me a non disclosure request/a confidentiality agreement,

that I will not sign. He has also started to mark his brief letters as 

in spite of these not containing any confidential information. The last 
"Coinfidential" letter I received from him included  just a reference to the 
above public website.

The website incidentially is a memo that states on its front page that its 
distribution is unlimited, quote:

"Distribution of this memo is unlimited." End of quote.

Labeling such brief references to public information as confidential, borders on
the laughable.

I could have reposted his brief letter, but I selected to rewrite his letter in 
my own words, so to show that Free Speech has many ways of combatting 

Generally speaking the internet is not too keen on censorship.
And even in more totalitarian countries, they have a hard time supressing wit.

Trygve Bauge

Bottom line is: If you mail something to another person, it is the latter's 
principles and integrity that decide how the information will be used. How the 
other person will be using the information is not for you to decide. An 
individual human being has (in general) the right to use information, and not 
the right to supress other's use of such.


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