Posted by: vanhoff | March 28, 2008

Gore: Internet is “Under Attack”

Gore: Internet is “Under Attack”

             Nobel Peace Prize Winner Al Gore, along with veteran journalist John Seigenthaler and Wikipedia chief Jimmy Wales, discussed First Amendment rights and the cyber age of blogs Thursday at Middle Tennessee State University. The conference titled, “Accuracy, Privacy and the World Wide Web: The First Amendment and the Internet,” examined the Internet and its effects on public and private figures. Seigenthaler and Wales joined gore, after his speech for a round table discussion.

            Gore, with a new book titled, “Assault on Reason,” takes a harsh look at the media’s fascination with flash over substance and the vulnerability to such crass manipulation by the media. Gore employed his critiques to make a solid speech on the Internet. “The Internet is rushing into history, and it is more powerful than television and radio combined,” Gore stated.

            Gore addressed the First Amendment, and how our “Founding Fathers,” ensured its freedom and our speech by protecting Johann Gutenberg’s printing press. “If one understands the right to free speech, they need not look any farther than to our Founding Fathers,” Gore stated. As his speech progressed, Gore came alive over the recent controversies of Wikipedia’s content. Wikipedia is an online free-content encyclopedia that anyone can edit. The conflicts include those offended by entries that offend a person, company, or organization. However, the offended have sought lawsuits against Wikipedia, or have tried to control the flow of information posted onto the web site. Gore stated, “If politicians restrict the flow of information to Wikipedia, we as Americans are not protecting our rights.”            After Gore spoke, he sat with the founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales and John Seigenthaler to discuss the internet and free speech. In 2005, an anonymous user of Wikipedia wrote false and defamatory content about Seigenthaler. Seigenthaler then contacted Wikipedia, and the content deleted. “Wikipedia is a flawed and irresponsible research tool,” Seigenthaler wrote to USA Today. Wales, Gore, and Seigenthaler ended their discussion in agreement pertaining to the rights of the First Amendment.

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