Electronic Frontier Foundation is a non-profit group of visionaries and volunteers who work tirelessly to protect digital rights. They have recently released an excellent guide informing bloggers about their rights on issues such as copyright and libel laws. With corporations and governments increasingly scrutinising what's published online, ignorance and naivete are invitations to trouble, and no blogger with half a brain wants any of that (least of all me). Here's what the EFF has to say about free speech online:
"Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.
Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.
The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.
But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom."
Visit EFF and read the complete guide online.
There's an amazing amount of information about almost every facet of blogging (check links and related stories). For instance, about blogging safely, EFF recommends that you (1) use a pseudonym and don't give away identifying details, (2) use anonymizing technologies, (3) limit your audience, and (4) don't be googleable. Oops. Looks like I've broken every taboo there is to break....
It was Intel's CEO and co-founder Andy Grove who said, "Only the paranoid survive." Yeah, but that's the sort of advice that puts a damper on living. Is there such a thing as 'balance' in the brave new digital world then?