Civil liberty II
January 16, 2013
The best New Year gift this year was the following decision from our reformist government. As soon as we welcomed 2013, the government rolled up its sleeves and immediately began to work on creating a joint system for website comments in order to introduce regulatory measures on comments posted by people on news websites.
Relevant government organizations were directed to develop and introduce technical solutions as well as necessary software and impose regulations on the operation of websites that specialize in news or grant domain names.Based on databases of the General Authority for State Registration and mobile network operator companies, information related to those who post comments will be registered and stored in the National Data Center.
They say that the main purpose is to open up an opportunity to investigate and take legal measures in case a complaint is lodged regarding inappropriate comments such as false accusations, sexual remarks and criminal threatening.
In an Ancient Greek tale, people drag into their city a huge wooden horse that was left behind the walls. When everyone was asleep at night, Greeks that were hidden inside the horse come out and let their troops enter the gate and seize the city. The tale of the Trojan horse tells us that a nice gift can sometimes have a bad outcome.
The above mentioned decision made by the Government of Mongolia reminds us of the story of the Trojan horse. In order to post a comment on website, a person will be required toput his or her full name, state their registration number and officially register their phone number. This means the government will be keeping track of who you are, what views you uphold, which political party or politician you support and which ones you don’t. They say that the government will work in compliance with relevant legislation and rules regarding the confidentiality of personal information. One can’t help but wonder whether the government is going to suddenly protect our personal information after all these years of stealing our money.
These kinds of measures are taken only in countries ruled by monarchies, communistregimes or dictatorships. It will not and cannot be implemented in a democratic Mongolia.
We, the people of democratic Mongolia, know the wonderful taste of having freedom as well as the bitter taste of not having it. A mere decision or resolution from a handful of individuals can never take our right to speak.
Instead of diversifying the economy and resolving many urgent issues in our society, the government is going to spend a great proportion of public budget on restricting freedom, violating the right to speak and impose control. What they propose to do is not a smart move and technically impossible to achieve in the long term.
The internet involves a huge amount of traffic flowing in many directions. When websites in Mongolian become like a one-way radio, all of them will eventually shut down. Aware of the danger ahead, twenty-four big companies that operate such websites expressed their objection to the government’s decision. However, nothing has been done in favor of them.
As official news websites disappear, unofficial ones located abroad will emerge and operate for a while. It makes no difference to people who will keep posting comments and expressing their opinion on foreign websites. Regardless of how hard they tried, no government has been able to stop globalized social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.
Internationally, they use programs that regulate posting comments of a criminal nature. For example, a system called ‘Discus’ is used for enabling online discussions and conversations. This system allows people to open an account and post a comment. Insulting comments can be filtered and warning signals are sent to other networks if a computer address is filtered multiple times for posting such comments. It is a responsible action for host companies to remove any comment that violates personal freedom and the liberty of someone. Some responsible websites in Mongolia have already been using this system.
If companies that don’t monitor comments on their websites adopt a similar system or software program, the problem will be solved. On another point of view, behind this attempt to impose monitoring controls on websites, what if there are narrow interests to gain profit from businesses that involves public budget?
On the other hand, every website operating company has to respect their clients’ satisfaction. Otherwise, they will be pushed out by competition. The government should impose control on websites that require money to remove comments of criminal nature and uses intellectual property without consent. What is absurd is to police everyone’s actions.
Paradox of Mongolian democracy
The government is a power apparatus that can implement a “stick” policy better than a “carrot” one. Today we can see that the Mongolian government is no different. The very same Democratic Party that carried out the democratic revolution is now trying to take a step that directly violates civil liberty and drastically restricts the right to speak. This is the paradox of Mongolian democracy.
Who is the Democratic Party serving? Are they serving the people or are they only serving their own political party? The government is going to register people who express their opinions and intimidate them with law enforcement. Are we going to thank the government and be glad for staying alive? Are we going to praise the grace of our political parties and their leaders just like old times?
The Mongolian people hope that the government will not make the whole world laugh by blocking international websites and social networking sites just like China and Arab countries did. In only a few months the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies will take place in Mongolia, which currently has the chairmanship of the community. The Democratic Party could not have decided to surprise the Community of Democracies by showing how civil liberty can be breached.
Democratic Party, how about showing them how invaluable, efficient and cheap it is to promote public transparency by providing the people with every opportunity to express their opinion on any website?
If that is made possible, I would leave the following comment: “ Your law on communications was revised (2011.12.15) and changes have been made since 2008. Are you not aware of this? Mr. Regulator – how many years does it take for you to renew the information on your website ?”. In general the public wants to know who monitors the websites of government organizations and checks how frequently they are updated or are they user-friendly or not?
If the government treats comments from the people as an important tool and a great opportunity to improve their work rather than an enemy to eliminate, Mongolia’s public governance will go up by a rank. This is a choice for the Democratic Party to make. Whether to support this party at the next election or not is a choice of ours to make.
(To be continued)
Translated by B.AMAR
Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=2610