Archive for 22 July 2010

Human Rights and ‘Sysop Prerogative’

Sysop prerogative is the right that an owner of an online community has to take whatever actions they wish in order that the community functions the way they wish. In common law counties it is understood that someone can do whatever they want unless they give that right way or it is taken away from them by a superior authority, such as Parliament, in the case of the United Kingdom (UK). It can therefore be expected that the systems operator (sysop) who owns an online community is free to operate their community under any rules they want that has not been taken away from them by statute. After all the community is surely their property which they can use and dispose of in any way they choose?

However, with each right or freedom comes certain duties and obligations, something which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights. This convention, like the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, places obligations on nation states to guarantee certain rights and not to interfere with the enjoyment of these rights except where they conflict with other rights or duties. This means that sysop prerogative may be both guaranteed and limited by European Human Rights Law.

Sysop prerogative can be used for instance to ban users who don’t participate, known as lurkers, some of whom make up to 90% of activity according to some sources.

The Big Society is a big step forward

David Cameron announced his ‘Big Society’ proposal today. It is shaming the Labour Party’s logic on the issue: Tories are bad, the Big Society idea is a Tory initiative, the Big Society is bad.

As a geniune co-operator I have been arguing for this for years – It doesn’t bother me which party introduces it. I do accept Labour concerns that its a cover for cuts, but I think a lot of Labour MPs’ complaints are typical of those who beleive in controlling state socialism.

If you look at the news, it seems there is little real money behind the proposal. I personally think the State’s purpose should be to collect tax to redistribute to strategically important initiatives run by the third sector, and groups individuals who the market would fail. Some how I think David Cameron is against redistributing wealth, especially if it is his and his cabinet colleagues’!

Some have also complained about the Tories’s other proposal today – the academy system – saying that a Comprehensive School education is better. However, I don’t think you should have to be disabled to get an individual learning plan – every child should have an education tailored to their needs. The Comprehensive system won’t ever provide that, whether academies will is another question. Equality of opportunity doesn’t mean giving everyone the same education, it means helping each child reach their potential by recognising that each child is different.

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