Regulating the Media: Necessary for Freedom?

Siochru and Girard argued in this week’s reading that regulations are necessary to ensure equality and freedom of information because media moguls are large conglomerates providing information to the masses. Thus, the authors argue that government and other invested regulatory bodies should limit distortion of content, infringement on intellectual property rights, and complete commercialization of the media. When we talk about regulating media in some form, however, we’re often implicating certain regulations on the Internet in terms of code, Internet Service providers, DNS providers, and other technical pieces of the whole make-up of international media.  The politics of this kind create entirely revolutionary discussion on human rights, access, and privacy.

I admittedly have a more liberalized philosophy when it comes to regulation on the Internet in that I tend to favor little regulation and more freedom of use. That said, however, Larry Lessig’s argument that the Internet presents certain absolutes that do not exist in real space may lay the foundation for necessary regulations. In theory, the Internet could one day be a place of perfect information knowledge and regulation, which could have a chilling effect on many of our deeply-engrained first amendment rights. Thus, regulating for the guarantee of a civil or public space may make sense for the future assurance that some Internet locations are off-hands to the government.

I do not, however, think that regulations are always the answer to large industry. While Siochru and Giarard and several others may argue that media “creates us” in a sense, we also create the media. Regulations can sometimes create more fair use or greater access to information, but often times, they can do the direct opposite of the intended policy. As a community learning to interpret what international communication policy could be, we should take this into account and see regulation as one of many tools in a toolbox, rather than the only tool for influencing how a law or industry affects society as a whole.

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