The WTF is local non-disclosure laws when the web is global, indeed



  • If you don't care about politics but are interested in information technology, you might be curious about what just happened last Sunday, when french people were electing their new president. I'm myself from Belgium, a small country north of France, and french-speaking as about 45% of the country. A fun fact is that everybody here knows about elections in France, but almost no one knows legislative elections will occur in Belgium in June ... no wonder Belgium is known for its taste for surrealism.

     Ok, I come to my point.

    In France, you can't publicly communicate partial results until 20h, that is when all polling stations are closed and bulletins counted in all/most of them. This is a democratic measure indeed ; your vote still count even if you're coming late to the polling station and the result is already 99.999% sure. What's the point being in the waiting line if you hear a radio saying who's going to win ?

     So, french papers and TV know partial results ( mostly thanks to "real-time" surveys, I guess ) but can't communicate about it. So are french blogs or any other mean, indeed.

    That law is only active in France. That means Belgian and Swiss journalists know the results and indeed communicate about it inside their own country. And on the web.

    The three main french-speaking Belgian papers are le soir, la libre belgique and la dernière heure. Guess what, partial results were available on their front page all the day, and their servers were badly overloaded ( several minutes to get a single html file, with all other content than the election results removed ). Assuredly most requests were coming from France ... ain't ironic ?

     Meanwhile, French bloggers were providing real-time results as being water content in air.

    This is all ridiculous. This law makes sense to me, but is no more applicable. And I doubt any international/European law or agreement could happen to prevent this.  What you would you do ?
     



  • ( please excuse the last sentence typo, too late to edit. I tend to rewrite my sentences and often forget to remove irrelevant redundant words ... )



  • We had similar problems here in Canada. Some recent high-profile court trials have had publication bans imposed. Reporters were expressly forbidden to publish details about the proceedings in court.

    Foreign journalists gathered information, either by part of the court audience or interviewing people who were in the audience, then published it on their website; foreign owned, foreign hosted.

    That is just part of living in the global communications world that we are in today.
     



  • In a broader perspective, I liked this article ( found via programming.reddit.com ). The idea is that the web removes any "social context" in discussions. That's another issue, but with almost the same roots.



  • 40%, not 45%.

    Otherwise agreed with the original poster; replace 'ban on publishing election results' with 'pollution and labour laws' and you know why the world will be in trouble within ten years.



  • Well, these people have to go to France sometime, right? If the French govt. really cared, they could simply arrest the offending members of the publication on entry into france.



  • @Brother Laz said:

    40%, not 45%.

    Otherwise agreed with the original poster; replace 'ban on publishing election results' with 'pollution and labour laws' and you know why the world will be in trouble within ten years.

    ah, nog ne vlaming :) 



  • @Volmarias said:

    Well, these people have to go to France sometime, right? If the French govt. really cared, they could simply arrest the offending members of the publication on entry into france.

    I don't quite see how they HAVE to go to france sometime, and there's no border control in the EU, so stopping them from entering france would be kinda difficult :)
     



  • @Brother Laz said:

    40%, not 45%.

    Otherwise agreed with the original poster; replace 'ban on publishing election results' with 'pollution and labour laws' and you know why the world will be in trouble within ten years.

    :D

    It was a random estimation with no politic aim ( french-speaking are a minority and that's the point ).

    By the way, community wars occurs even on the wikipedia : while the [url=http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgie#Taal]Dutch wikipedia article[/url] and the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium#Demographics]English[/url] one announce 40%, the [url=http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgique#Wallonie_et_Bruxelles_depuis_la_f.C3.A9d.C3.A9ralisation_:_affinit.C3.A9s_et_diff.C3.A9rences]French article[/url] announces between 40 and 45%. I didn't check by myself before throwing that number but nevertheless, it's funny. Since I didn't count by myself, I'll agree with the estimate of 40%.

     About Sarkozy, in a geek perspective we could expect some more law enforcement around digital rights ( DADVSI & co ), I hope free software won't be hurt too badly. The economy needs it, after all.

    In a broader point of view, it might be tempting to compare him to Georges W. Bush. But I find Sarkozy a lot smarter. And thus more "dangerous" if you don't agree with his ideas. Fortunately I don't think something as catastrophic as a "french irak" would ever happen.



  • @aikii said:

    What's the point being in the waiting line if you hear a radio saying who's going to win ?

    What's the point of being in line if you're totally unaware of who's going to win even though it's the exact same people anyway?



  • The solution is self control and understanding ones larger interests.  It is in my interest, as a US citizen, that France have free and fair elections. I believe, ultimately, that the French people's expressing their national will promotes peace and stability in Europe and in the rest of the world.  Anyone in Belgium, as an EU partner of France, ought to feel that interest even more strongly.

     I view it as a rather simple call...the stories will not be suppressed indefinitely so there should be no conflict with the public's right to know or transparency or other important values.  It is simply a matter of trading the chance for the fleeting glory or prestige of "the scoop" for a value more important and more lasting.

    However, I'm not holding my breath.

     



  • @fennec said:

    @aikii said:
    What's the point being in the waiting line if you hear a radio saying who's going to win ?

    What's the point of being in line if you're totally unaware of who's going to win even though it's the exact same people anyway?

    I'm afraid I must have missed some subtlety. Is it the usual "politics are all the same" rant ? O:-)



  • @sibtrag said:

    I view it as a rather simple call...the stories will not be suppressed indefinitely so there should be no conflict with the public's right to know or transparency or other important values.  It is simply a matter of trading the chance for the fleeting glory or prestige of "the scoop" for a value more important and more lasting.

    However, I'm not holding my breath.

    A television reprensentative was interviewed on the subject ( from the official french-speaking television channel, RTBF, if I remember well ). He said that people that are so much interested in politics would have voted in the morning, while the less interested wouldn't care grabbing that information via foreign medias. And then made that pathetic conclusion : if we don't give the results before french television, nobody is going to watch us ! Here is the world of ethics we live in ...



  • @aikii said:

    @fennec said:

    @aikii said:
    What's the point being in the waiting line if you hear a radio saying who's going to win ?

    What's the point of being in line if you're totally unaware of who's going to win even though it's the exact same people anyway?

    I'm afraid I must have missed some subtlety. Is it the usual "politics are all the same" rant ? O:-)

    I'm just wondering about the thinking behind what is essentially an "Ignorance is Strength" slant. Is the value of the time spent voting so petty that dispelling this ignorance would suddenly make voting worthless?



  • @Volmarias said:

    Well, these people have to go to France sometime, right? If the French govt. really cared, they could simply arrest the offending members of the publication on entry into france.

     

    What law have they broken?  They simply published the results of some polls in France on the web.  They can say it was for people other than the French to read.  Nothing illegal about that.

     



  • The only solution I see is to make it illegal to release results before 20h.  Not illegal to publish -- to release.  You can't punish the blogger in Indonesia posting the results, but he has to get them from somewhere.  The current solution tries to cast a wide net over french journalists, but now that information is so easily spread there's no way to cast a net over all journalists, which is what would need to be done.

    If you shrink the net to criminalize releasing of information, it should theoretically change nothing (since French media can't report on it, does it really matter if they know about it?), while narrowing the range of potential breaches far enough to actually be traceable.  It could be treated just like any other confidential government matter.
     

    This seems pretty obvious to me.  Does that mean I misread the question? :) 



  • @fennec said:

    I'm just wondering about the thinking behind what is essentially an "Ignorance is Strength" slant. Is the value of the time spent voting so petty that dispelling this ignorance would suddenly make voting worthless?

    Oh, right. I underestimated your question! I overlooked that point of view. I'm in the waiting line, I want to vote and suddenly, I know it's already casted. Then wondering : ok, so what ? I'll wait to apply my own vote as anyone else already did.

    That's a very responsible behavior. Too good to be true, in fact. Would it be the average joe, or even myself, if I'd eared the result I'd just quit the waiting line and enjoy the last hours of the week-end. Anyway, my own vote wouldn't have been more important a couple of hours sooner. Strange thing, eh ?

    Another fact : throughout the campaign surveys are regularly published and it influences voters and politics. That's bad indeed. Surveys heavily contributes in transforming the politic scene into a spectacle. Forbidding publication of real time surveys is admitting surveys influence voters. Then why are they tolerated in the first place ?

    Duh. My brain hurts. Back to those more accessible dumb computer problems :'(



  • Brother Laz:

    40%, not 45%.

    Otherwise agreed with the original poster; replace 'ban on publishing election results' with 'pollution and labour laws' and you know why the world will be in trouble within ten years.

    :D

    It was a random estimation with no politic aim ( french-speaking are a minority and that's the point ).

    By the way, community wars occurs even on the wikipedia : while the Dutch wikipedia article and the English one announce 40%, the French article announces between 40 and 45%. I didn't check by myself before throwing that number but nevertheless, it's funny. Since I didn't count by myself, I'll agree with the estimate of 40%.

    _______________________

    What's even funnier, is that it's the Flemish who've refused to carry out linguistic census for years (out of fear for the results in Brussels), but that they're the first to argue about 5% (though no real statistics are available).



  • @Bert said:

    We had similar problems here in Canada. Some recent high-profile court trials have had publication bans imposed. Reporters were expressly forbidden to publish details about the proceedings in court.

    Foreign journalists gathered information, either by part of the court audience or interviewing people who were in the audience, then published it on their website; foreign owned, foreign hosted.

    That is just part of living in the global communications world that we are in today.
     



    Ah, AdScam...

    I ran one of the American blogs that helped cover the story. CQ did a good job of thumbing his nose to the Canadian government. :P



  • @kswanton said:

    @Volmarias said:

    Well, these people have to go to France sometime, right? If the French govt. really cared, they could simply arrest the offending members of the publication on entry into france.
    What law have they broken?  They simply published the results of some polls in France on the web.  They can say it was for people other than the French to read.  Nothing illegal about that.

    By means of comparison, if, say, sodomy is illegal in Alabama, but not in California, I'm pretty sure the cops in Alabama can't arrest a Californian entering Alabama for engaging in sodomy in California.



  • I suppose they could gather up all the voters into a single area and hold them there until they vote.  :)



  • @aikii said:

    In France, you can't publicly communicate partial results until 20h, that is when all polling stations are closed and bulletins counted in all/most of them. This is a democratic measure indeed ; your vote still count even if you're coming late to the polling station and the result is already 99.999% sure. What's the point being in the waiting line if you hear a radio saying who's going to win ?

    In Canada, we have a very similar law.  You can't publish partial results in your timezone until all the polling stations are closed.  Unfortunately, Canada has 5 and a half time zones.  So when it is 8pm in Newfoundland, it is still 3:30pm out here in BC.  The "media" from Newfoundland is not allowed to tell anyone from the rest of Canada how the election is going.  Things don't get really interesting until the polls close in Ontario/Quebec, which is 3 hours ahead of BC.  This would put it about the time most people would be leaving work and heading off to vote.  Nothing like listening to CBC radio and finding out that the election is essentially over.

    I think that this is a good law.  The one about banning publication of trials is not so good, but that one needs to be taken on a case by case basis... 



  • @merreborn said:

    @kswanton said:

    @Volmarias said:

    Well, these people have to go to France sometime, right? If the French govt. really cared, they could simply arrest the offending members of the publication on entry into france.
    What law have they broken?  They simply published the results of some polls in France on the web.  They can say it was for people other than the French to read.  Nothing illegal about that.

    By means of comparison, if, say, sodomy is illegal in Alabama, but not in California, I'm pretty sure the cops in Alabama can't arrest a Californian entering Alabama for engaging in sodomy in California.

    In Canada, we have Sex Tourism Laws, where you can be charged in Canada for having sex with a minor in another country, even if it was not an offense in that country.



  • @Grimoire said:

    In Canada, we have a very similar law.  You can't publish partial results in your timezone until all the polling stations are closed.  Unfortunately, Canada has 5 and a half time zones.  So when it is 8pm in Newfoundland, it is still 3:30pm out here in BC.  The "media" from Newfoundland is not allowed to tell anyone from the rest of Canada how the election is going.  Things don't get really interesting until the polls close in Ontario/Quebec, which is 3 hours ahead of BC.  This would put it about the time most people would be leaving work and heading off to vote.  Nothing like listening to CBC radio and finding out that the election is essentially over.

     I don't see why they even bother letting us vote out here in the west.  This last election was the first election in 50 years that our votes actually counted, and even then eastern Canada already decided to dump the Liberals.



  • @fennec said:

    @aikii said:
    What's the point being in the waiting line if you hear a radio saying who's going to win ?

    What's the point of being in line if you're totally unaware of who's going to win even though it's the exact same people anyway?

    I guess your vote still counts as long as you don't collapse the quantum wave function. 



  • @aikii said:

    What you would you do ?

    Take over the country by force and proclaim myself king. Elections are an absurd idea anyway. 



  • @asuffield said:

    @aikii said:

    What you would you do ?

    Take over the country by force and proclaim myself king. Elections are an absurd idea anyway. 


    I'd take over the country and proclaim [i]someone else[/i] king.  After all, the purpose of a leader is to draw peoples' eyes away from where the true power is.



  • @Carnildo said:

    @asuffield said:
    @aikii said:

    What you would you do ?

    Take over the country by force and proclaim myself king. Elections are an absurd idea anyway.


    I'd take over the country and proclaim [i]someone else[/i] king. After all, the purpose of a leader is to draw peoples' eyes away from where the true power is.

    Who wants to be the true power? That would be like work. I want the palace and the maids. 



  • @Grimoire said:

    In Canada, we have Sex Tourism Laws, where you can be charged in Canada for having sex with a minor in another country, even if it was not an offense in that country.

    What if am belgian, have sex in let's say an asiatic country with a minor and then go do some tourism in Canada?

    We have a very curious law in Belgium, you probably heard about it. We can judge a citizen from another country, even if he is not currently in Belgium for acts of genocid or crime against humanity commited outside of Belgium. If one day the commited goes to Belgium to buy chocolates, he could be arrested :) Be carefull when you go on holidays :) This law had to be amended several time as it put  our governemnt in tricky situations (let's say like when 2 weeks before an official visit of G W Bush some group of victims complained to belgian court against him and ask for his arrestation...)

     Back to the France case, i don't understand why France simply doesn't keep the poll boxes closed until all poll station are closed. This will solve simply the problem. For canada, you could simply do the same, keep poll boxes closed for 12hours :) (Ok it can be a problem to ensure nobody add polls to the box during night)


    PS: nice to see another Belgian citizen here, and i know there are federal elections in june, and that like each year i will have to use an electronic voting device. A black box nobody in the poll station has the competency to check (speak of democraty?)

     

     



  • @tchize said:

    Back to the France case, i don't understand why France simply doesn't keep the poll boxes closed until all poll station are closed. This will solve simply the problem. For canada, you could simply do the same, keep poll boxes closed for 12hours :) (Ok it can be a problem to ensure nobody add polls to the box during night
     

    I think they essentially interview random people just out of the voting office. I don't think real partial results are available ( unless some offices close earlier than others ). It's indeed inaccurate but as in any survey, the number of samples allows to estimate a margin of error.

    As for electronic vote, there's another similar "belgian story" : I just got an invitation to get a new electronic ID. I've read the documentation recently, and while it's not absolutely WTFed it's still anachronistic in some ways ( the API looks like a cobol-to-java mapping ) and only poor drivers are available ( indeed main drivers are for windows, there's no driver for mac intel and alright, there are opensource drivers for linux but they don't even build : makefiles are absolutely not generic and work only for whatever distro ... looks like someone needs a unix dev guru ). Belgian eID inconsistencies deserve a small article about it, someday.


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