The anti-Muslim Dutch politician Geert Wilders is testing the limits of the Internet.
Promotions for his film purportedly condemning the Koran, that were posted on YouTube in February led the government of Pakistan to block the site in its entirety.
Wilders also created a stir when he announced that he would premier the film on his Web site, fitnathemovie.com, hosted by Network Solutions (best known for its domain name services). Network Solutions suspended fitnathemovie.com, saying that it did so to investigate whether the site’s content violated its “acceptable use policy.”
Under that policy, material that is “harassing, abusive, threatening, harmful, vulgar [or is] hate propaganda” is prohibited.
Predictably, on the blogosphere in the United States, Network Solutions is being called a censor and a coward, with scores of posts praising the Internet for its “anything goes” culture. Some are arguing that if Wilders’s movie is offensive and prompts violence, so be it – that’s the price of Internet freedom.
But do we really permit anything on the Internet? Of course not.