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Disabled by Government ^ | September 27, 2017 | John Stossel

Posted on 09/27/2017 5:04:48 AM PDT by Kaslin

A third threat to free speech at the University of California, Berkeley has led to more censorship than political rioters or college administrators.

It's the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Berkeley is expensive. Out of state students must pay $60,000 a year. But for five years, Berkeley generously posted 20,000 of its professors' lectures online. Anyone could watch them for free.

Then government regulators stepped in.

The Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates, "No qualified individual with a disability shall ... be denied the benefits of ... services."

As with most laws, people can spend years debating what terms like "denied," "benefits" and "services" mean.

President Obama's eager regulators, in response to a complaint from activists, decided that Berkeley's videos violated the ADA. The Justice Department sent the school a threatening letter: "Berkeley is in violation of title II ... (T)he Attorney General may initiate a lawsuit."

What Berkeley had done wrong, said the government, was failing to caption the videos for the hearing impaired. The ADA makes it illegal to "deny" deaf people services available to others.

Equality is a noble goal but closed captioning is expensive.

Computers are learning to turn speech into text, but so far they're not good at it. A speech-to-text program transcribed a Harvard lecturer's comment "on our campus" as "hot Kampen good."

Captions that meet government's standards must be typed out by a person who listens to each word. Captioning Berkley's 20,000 lectures would cost millions. The school decided that to be safe, it would just stop offering its videos. The administration even removed the existing videos from its website.

So now, instead of some deaf people struggling to understand university lectures, no one gets to hear them.

Politicians mean well when they pass rules like the ADA, but every regulation has unintended consequences. Most are bad.

In this case, fortunately, an angry entrepreneur came to the rescue. Jeremy Kauffman hates to see valuable things disappear, so right before Berkeley deleted its website, Kauffman copied the videos and posted them on his website, called LBRY (as in Library).

He says the Berkeley videos are just the start of what LBRY has planned. He wants the site to be YouTube -- but without the content restrictions.

LBRY uses a new technology that operates like Bitcoin. It's "decentralized," meaning videos posted are stored on thousands of computers around the world. That makes it nearly impossible for governments -- or even Kauffman himself -- to remove them.

"LBRY is designed to be much more decentralized, much more controlled by users" and "absolutely freer," Kauffman explains in a video I posted this week.

He acknowledges that with no censorship, his invention may end up hosting videos of bad things -- beheadings, child porn, who knows what else. But he argues that if he creates a system with censorship, "it allows us to keep the bad stuff out, which is great, but it also allows dictatorial regimes to keep content off. Do we want to make videos available to the people in Turkey, Iran, and China? We say yes."

LBRY will let users flag videos depicting illegal actions. Those videos may no longer be shown on LBRY. However, other websites can show the illegal content using LBRY's technology, and Kauffman can't stop that.

Kauffman says he won't remove the Berkeley videos from his site even if he's sued because there aren't captions for deaf people.

"Is that a reason that content shouldn't be available to everyone?" asks Kauffman.

Government is force whether it is deliberately doing something cruel or just trying to solve one group's problems by imposing restrictions on others. "Do you want to put a gun to someone's face and say 'Caption those videos'? It's absurd."

It is absurd. What government does is often absurd.

Thank goodness for the internet and for people like Kauffman, someone willing to spend his own money to keep information free.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial; Government
KEYWORDS: ada; barackhussein0bama; education; lbry; regulations; ucberserkely

1 posted on 09/27/2017 5:04:48 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

We do need Free Speech and in this current age it appears that the Tech companies like Google and Facebook are censoring as much as the government.

As for the ADA, it is a PRIME EXAMPLE of a good intention gone very bad! I have been sensitized about physical handicaps since a family member became a quad in the early 70s. When the ADA was passed it looked like a step in the correct direction. After just a couple of years it became obvious that it was a FARCE as far as genuine help for truly disabled. The tort lobby cried with glee as lawsuits were brought on behalf of drunks, chronically tardy, need for wheelchair ramps onto strip club stages and the exact height of bathroom fixtures.

The essence of the ADA conundrum, as manipulated by the fanatical proponents and the legal tort lawyers, is that anything less than perfect is just not good enough! I especially recall the nightmare that New York City faced when trying to follow the examples of European cities in creating free-standing public toilets. Whereas over there you have minimal structures that accommodate 90%+ of the population, by the time NYC tried to pass the ADA and homeless advocates, you had an automated monstrosity that even Rube Goldberg would not believe!

2 posted on 09/27/2017 6:28:51 AM PDT by SES1066 (Happiness is a depressed Washington, DC housing market!)
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