Defining International Satellite Communications as Weapons of Mass Destruction: The First Step in a Compromise between National Sovereignty and the Free Flow of Ideas

By Nuttall, ColC. | Houston Journal of International Law, Winter 2005 | Go to article overview

Defining International Satellite Communications as Weapons of Mass Destruction: The First Step in a Compromise between National Sovereignty and the Free Flow of Ideas


Nuttall, ColC., Houston Journal of International Law


  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. INTERNATIONAL LAW GOVERNS TELECOMMUNICATIONS
     SATELLITES BUT FALLS SHORT OF PROVIDING A
     COMPREHENSIVE REGULATORY SCHEME
     A. Corpus Juris Spatialis Provides Universally
        Acceptable Authority for Regulating Violent
        Propaganda
     B. Various Other Sources of International Law are
        Contradictory but are Beginning to Compromise
III. MODERN REGULATION AND REGULATORY PROPOSALS
     FAIL TO BALANCE THE EXPECTATIONS OF ALL
     INTERESTS
     A. Increasing Destruction to Social, Cultural, and
        Economic Norms Require Regulation over the
        Content of International Communications
     B. Only Self-Help Remedies are Available Because
        The Modern Regulation System is Ambiguous and
        Unenforceable
     C. Proposals for Regulation Reform Have Lacked
        Efficiency and Improperly Favored Either
        National Sovereignty or Freedom of Expression
 IV. BY EXAMINING RESULTS FROM THE PAST WE SEE
     MORE CLEARLY THE PRESENT NEED FOR REGULATION
     A. Rwandan Genocide Facilitated by Radio-Television
        Libre des Milles Collines
     B. Cuban Interference with US Economic Interests by
        Self-Help Jamming of TV and Radio Marti
  V. A SOLUTION CAN BE FOUND THAT BALANCES
     EXPRESSION AND SOVEREIGNTY
 VI. CONCLUSION

You Americans complain about drug traffickers in Asia, and meanwhile you flood the world with the electronic equivalent. Our children know the names of your rappers and movie stars, and nothing about the heroes of their own people. Maybe they know who Stephen King is, but they don't know who our King Stephen was--the founder of our nation.... It's an invisible conquest, with satellites and broadcast transmitters instead of artillery. (1)

I. INTRODUCTION

As the technological developments of the information age continue to expand at an increasingly rapid rate, there is little doubt that domestic and international use of satellite technology will continue to play an increasingly larger role in the world's affairs. Even now, the space and satellite industry occupies a significant portion of the economy of the United States and other developed nations around the globe. (2) In 1999, the commercial space industry generated $61.3 billion in the United States economy, with just over ninety-two percent, or $56.7 billion being accounted for by the satellite industry. (3) And, while it appears that the United States populace had been gradually losing interest in the activities of space, it looks as though the curiosity and interest surrounding space are due for a resurgence. The recent scientific and technological triumph of placing the Spirit and Opportunity rovers on Mars, coupled with President George W. Bush's new vision for the space program, create just the atmosphere to foster a renewed spirit. (4) The economic, social, and political effects are sure to follow.

Numerous events of profound historical significance have occurred since the beginning of the new millennium, but do these events have any significance in relation to past, present, or future endeavors in space? Although it may be counterintuitive, the question should be answered in the affirmative. The relevance is, perhaps, most clear when violent acts are considered. Violent events, such as those typified by the creation of mass gravesites in New York City and Washington, D.C. on September 11, 2001, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, and the suicide bombings in Israel and the Middle East with the accompanying retaliatory strikes directed toward Palestine, (5) have not only shaped the world in which we currently live, but also the history for future civilization. Collectively, these events define a generation in a way that matches historical events of the past defined other generations--events such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941, (6) the assassination of John F. Kennedy in November 1964, (7) and the Challenger disaster in January 1986. …

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