WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., June 7, 1995 -- Newshare Corp. today released the following statement about its Internet-based Clickshare(sm) registration, third-party validation, profiling and transaction-settlement system:
Newshare Corp. believes effective democracy requires that free-speech protections cover the process of delivering information -- whether on paper or electronically -- as well as creating and presenting it.
In the United States, common carriers of information have generally been exempt from the application of libel laws; while publishers must carefully manage their editorial process so as to fairly protect reputations and livelihoods. Where roles become mixed -- common carriage vs. publishing -- the media, public and courts are drawn into conflict.
It is for this reason that Newshare Corp. believes common carriers of information -- cable operators, telephone companies and the like -- are plying dangerous waters for democracy by attempting themselves to become publishers.
Newshare, as the Internet's first news brokerage, intends to separate its role as a common carrier from its role as a publisher. It will do this by offering enabling technology for Newshare consumers to "turn off" offensive material. But it will leave the decision about what to mark as offensive up to Newshare Publisher Members -- the content providers.
On one hand, a Newshare Publishing Member who wants to use the Clickshare system to publish patently offensive -- but legal -- material, may do so. Moreover, a mere claim of illegality will not be sufficient to warrant overriding the publishers' prerogative. (Example: the Nixon administration believed it was illegal to publish the Pentagon Papers. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled otherwise.)
Newshare Corp. will never be in the business of telling its Publishing Members what they can and cannot publish, link to or exchange across the Clickshare(SM) system of billable hypertext links. Our strategy is to enable transfer of widely dispersed information -- for value -- in a searchable, customizable format from a single user account.
On the other hand, Newshare Corp. and the Newshare Syndicate are working hard to build credibility as a branded source of high-quality, personalized, local and topical news. Only those publishers which subscribe to Newshare's customer-service objectives will be awarded the right to use the Newshare name.
Consistent with building credibility, consumer users of the Newshare system will be invited to invoke a "parental option" when they enroll with their local or topic-specific Pubishing Member. This service will then automatically check the publisher-assigned rating of documents requested across the Newshare system.
If a document is voluntarily coded as unsuitable for viewing by a minor, it will not be transmitted to the user requesting it. This rating will not be assigned by Newshare Corp. It will be assigned by individual Publishing Member affiliates in the exercise of their publishing responsibility.
Newshare will not dictate the standard by which this designation is made. Consumers themselves may then decide which Publishing Member best reflects their values. Newshare Corp. does not believe the government or a common carrier should be empowered to abridge this balance between publishing responsibility and informed consumer choice.
Publishers who surreptitiously serve up offensive bytes must suffer the ill-will of consumers -- not Newshare and certainly not the government.