I was just looking at a news aggregate site and noticed a headline about blog licensing in Singapore. The government of Singapore is imposing regulations on news websites that would require certain blogs to acquire a license that costs about $39,500.
The license criteria involve the amount of traffic and site content, and the goal of the regulation is to prevent racial or religious disharmony. According to the article, only about 10 websites have been affected so far, including Singapore’s Yahoo! News. I’m assuming that these ten websites are large enough to be able to afford to pay the licensing fees and carry on with business. But that’s not the issue. I don’t care if the license cost a dollar.
This is the slippery slope that Slappy was talking about in his most recent post here. People will look at this regulation, judge it on its intention, see that it won’t really have much of a change on anything, and say, “Well, does it really matter? And really, it might keep a hateful website from being able to spread its drivel.”
This mindset, of course, is the goal of the people writing these regulations. If the government wants to control the media within its country, it would never it all at once. There would be all kinds of fallout from just about everyone. Instead, they take baby steps, assuring you that what they’re doing doesn’t really matter. And they pick an easy target to regulate. In this case, it’s bigots. Not many people like bigots, so it’s much more palatable for the average person to be on board with taking away their rights.
You can’t eat a steak in one bite. You can’t eliminate freedom with one law.
We need to be ever vigilante to spot this kind of creeping of illegitimate authority. It’s bad enough that illegitimate authority exists in the first place—we simply cannot afford to give them any more. But people want security, so the promise of it will make people who would otherwise never give up freedom bend like a pipe cleaner. Just remember, how many of us supported the PATRIOT Act? It didn’t take long for the slope to get more slippery and steeper.