December 11, 2002

THE NEW YORK TIMES is making the Australia-Zimbabwe connection:

The Australian court's reasoning in this case is analogous to that employed by Zimbabwe's regime in seeking to punish a writer for an article the country's police downloaded from a London newspaper's Web site. To subject distant providers of online content to sanctions in countries intent on curbing free speech or even to 190 different libel laws is to undermine the Internet's viability.

Australia is not Zimbabwe, of course. But the Australian court's ruling will give political and legal cover to unsavory regimes who simply want to insulate themselves from criticism.