Is the Internet-Regulation Necessary?

Shuji Imamoto


There have occurred a world-wide problem on information ethics today, precisely about regulations on Internet. We know that establishment of laws and rules for Internet communication is now being examined in many countries such as USA, China, Japan, Singapore etc. The reason is that some dangerous, sexual or criminal information is unrestrictedly flowing over Internet world. However, there occurs another question: how can we control and regulate these unlimited information, and by what kind of organization can we do so? and so on. In particular, in Japan recently, there arises a big problem that Ministry of International Trade and Industry announced the General Moral Principles for Communication, besides, police and public prosecutor have arrested some Internet providers as well as forced them to prohibit publishing some kind of personal websites without any reason. The Japanese government attempts to establish a kind of “Law of Public Censorship and Wiretap”which enables police to check and control any personal information and data on Internet.

Here exists an alternative choice: “freedom of expression”or “protection from information”. But I wonder if there the individual freedom and human rights are still not the most important point of view. On the contrary, we are always confronted with an unrestricted and unreasonable way of informational regulation by the public power. For instance, there is a standpoint of “informational liberalists” who insist that we have to have more opportunity to be educated self-control or self-judgement so as to cope with overflowing information. They think “upholders of informational regulation” are wrong in the following point:

  1. they assume that Internet participants do not have an ability to self-control or deal with enormous information, so that
  2. general regulations are necessary.

On the other hand, informational liberals suppose that each participant has a “mature” consideration to self-judge and deal with any information by him/herself, and that their oppositions presuppose the existence of “overprotected” individuals. Besides, liberals indicate that the regulations are needed not only when we use Internet but while we use any other medium such as telephone, fax, TV, radio, books and magazines. Basically, also by these media, informational crimes always occur just as in Internet space. Moreover, we cannot show easily the criteria or global standard of regulations.

Therefore the cruciial point does not lie in the way how we regulate or restrict criminal or dangerous information, but in the way how much we keep “mature” judgement against them. Nevertheless, if an individual protection from information is needed, an comprehensive law — within the rules of international laws or national constitution — should be applied, according to the case. We cannot allow the public power to interfere our free Internet space of communication unreasonably, which gives us the opportunity to build a new world — networks and friendship beyond any national borders. Finally I would like to make some suggestions;

  1. what kind of educational principles for “self-independent”individuals (not for “overprotected”ones) do we need if we can do without making any external regulations on Internet?;
  2. how can they be realized in an actual society?