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.

    😃

    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 ? 😇



  • @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 ? 😇

    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.

    😃

    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. 😛



  • @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.


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