The Silicon Valley Legislature

Expanding on Lawrence Lessig’s “Code” argument, Morozov argues that Silicon Valley is subtly legislating morality. As an example, until this last August, Google wouldn’t autocomplete “bisexual”. Only after numerous complaints did it allow this. Apple turned the word “Vagina” when used in the title of a book, into “V****a”. Facebook shut down The New Yorker’s Facebook site because of an Adam & Eve cartoon had a nipple in it.

While concerning, I’m not sure this is anything new. Book publishers chose the books to publish. Book stores chose the books they would sell. And, if anything, the internet allows many more competitors to enter the market and allow “penis” to be autocompleted. Because of privacy concerns, I no longer use one of the large and free cloud email providers. Instead, I use Hushmail.

While I’m confident that there will continue to be many sites that spell “vagina” with all its letters, we may soon have ISPs that are forced to share information my network activity with the government. For example, ever time I type “vagina” into a search engine. See any recently proposed cybersecurity legislation if you think otherwise.

In the end, the “code” we need to really worry about is that developed by the government.

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