Wednesday, April 18, 2012

If you can ban one thing you can ban anything

One of the things obvious about the governments attempts to ban hate speech was not who it was aimed at but who decided what was and wasn't hate speech. At the moment it is mostly used by the race industry to prevent often fair criticism, though no doubt if a group of pets falls out of favour it will be applied to them just as rigorously. The same goes with censorship, personally I believe the best person to censor me is me, if I don't want to look at something, I wont. However as ever the government is approaching the issue from a "for the children" mindset in getting an automatic block on all online porn unless you opt out.
Internet users should automatically be blocked from accessing pornography at home to stop the surge in children seeing adult material, MPs will demand today.
Anyone wanting to view hardcore images online should have to ‘opt out’ of a special filter, according to the panel of MPs and peers looking into child protection.
Their report said that six out of ten children download adult material because their parents have not installed filters. The use of protective filters in homes has fallen from 49 per cent to 39 per cent in the last three years.
They concluded that parents were often outsmarted by their web-savvy children and felt unconfident in updating and downloading content filters. Many parents were ‘oblivious’ to the type of material available on the internet and were often shocked when they realised the content that children were accessing
Yes kids are quite internet savvy, but the fault for them looking at what they do lies with parents, letting a kid run unsupervised with a computer is a bit like leaving a loaded gun around the place, it's just something you should not do. But because some parents are irresponsible, they've given the government an opportunity to legislate for all. So, what the government is proposing is an opt out system, where you no doubt have to go through some process to clear a filter. I rather suspect a lot of parents might have to get their kids to do this for them.
The danger is of course once they've managed (assuming they do) get a system in place that works it will then be available for other purposes, anti-government websites, inconvenient bloggers and political movements being but a few of the options. After all, if we can't find it, how will we know it's there? Particularly if there is a secondary filter that cannot be over ridden for extreme sites...
The problem with anything like this is that at some stage it always ends up being abused by those in power who do not cope well with criticism and who do not like their motives and business being in the publics eye. Much easier to blame someone else if those who want to know can't find the evidence in the first place as it's hidden away from the publics view.
Don't say you haven't been warned...

6 annotations:

Durotrigan said...

QM, I think that you are right to draw our attention to the potential dangers of such a system. It seems obvious that once it has been tested under the pretext of the 'need' for an effective anti-porn measure, it will then be extended to clampdown on stigmatised dissident views, thereby ensuring that alternative perspectives to the dominant elite narrative go unread and unheard.

William said...

My two are fifteen and nineteen and have had uncontrolled access to the interweb as long as we have had it here (since 2001).
Astonishingly neither have become perverts, rapists, raged insane killers or worst of all smokers but then again such access comes great personal responsibility and I am proud to say they have both accepted that they are responsible for themselves. They have known this since their pre-internet, pre-teens.

All I told them was that the internet contains everything warts and all so inevitably they will come across things they don't like or they decide are offensive so when they do use the back button or close the window. You either totally trust your children or you don't.

You are correct though it is simply taking the 'ban it all' game to the next level.

As for a filter never ever underestimate the power of a child's ability to find something deliberately hidden from view. The porn filter will be as useful as the plain packs hidden behind the curtains in every supermarket.
My eldest went through secondary school where the kids from year 7 onwards were always two steps ahead of the school nanny filter creators.

Tatty said...

"letting a kid run unsupervised with a computer is a bit like leaving a loaded gun around the place"
This assumes the only place children will access the internet is on a home computer. Their OWN home computer, at that.
Back in the 70's some local lads found a copy of "The Joy Of Sex" on the local tip and passed it round. Nobody banned *that*.
My young daughters boyfriend takes evil delight in embarrassing her in newsagents by whispering "look at the top shelf !!!"
Where there's a will there's a way and with porn just about everywhere these days banning stuff online is just pissing in the wind.

Slamlander said...

The real answer is that we didn't build the internet for children! In fact, children cannot get on it unless an adult is willing to pay the bill. A child cannot enter into a legally binding contract.

William said...

Take your point but I haven't entered into a legally binding contract with my ISP as I nor they have signed any paperwork. Just like the utility companies they do not present a legally binding contract for their clients to sign because if they did they would have to cough up when the service they provide went down.

Also have you never heard of wifi hotspots and unsecured connections.
Kids know all about them.

Dan said...

What the politicians fail to realise is that several other regimes like China and Australia have also tried to implement country-wide firewalling projects of this nature. Most people intensely dislike this sort of censorship, and there are a lot of internet users who are extremely good at finding ways around this sort of thing.

Circumventing the Great Firewall of China is a solved problem. Circumventing anything the UK government might fancy to put in place is also a solved problem, and one which all kids will either discover or be told about very, very quickly.

Virtual Private Networks are perfect ways around this sort of censorship, as are Tor Onion Routing systems. As the block will likely be DNS-based, using a DNS provider outside of the UK will rapidly become another avenue to explore, as will cracking the wifi passwords of known-uncensored wireless network routers.

The only real plus to all of this is that it will create a generation of skilled hardware and software hackers, which is just what Britain needs to secure a tech-heavy future. The downside is that these new voters won't be daft enough to vote for the nannying buffoons who created them.