Well-stocked national digital library systems, please, Mr. Clinton—not a ‘Ministry of Truth’ or other police agency

imageScam artists and worse infest the Internet. But the Net also brims with honest expressions of political opinion.

Yes, I intensely dislike ex-President Bill Clinton’s idea of a tax-funded 1984ish “Ministry of Truth” or any other police-style approach for the Internet beyond the existing regulatory agencies—even if he doesn’t necessarily have censorship in mind. Letting the UN police “facts” would be even worse. Talk about grist for the Tea Party!

Instead, Mr. President, how about well-stocked national digital library systems, both the public and academic varieties? Didn’t Al Gore want to put the Library of Congress online? Great idea for many reasons, especially K-12-related ones.

But it should be only the start. Read the LibraryCity.org site and related writings. That’s what the ideas there are all about—libraries, not info-cop agencies.

As is often said here in cyberspace, the cure for misinformation is more information and better information (exactly what local libraries and others provide in areas ranging from personal health advice to the financial variety). Bill Buckley, my political opposite, wanted  a well-stocked national digital library online in the TeleRead vein with close ties to local libraries. Care to catch up with him? I’d love to see you take a personal interest in this matter while giving up your police-style approach, whatever you call it, “fact-checking” or otherwise. I voted for both you and Al Gore. Don’t disappoint me.

Detail: Clinton is not talking about a traditional government agency. But functionally this would be the same, and don’t think that the most active users of the Net would be oblivious to that.

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David Rothman

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