The UK’s Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey is proposing that all internet pornography be blocked at the internet interface to people’s homes. Regardless of whether the household has any children or not, this measure is being passed off as a means to protect children. To gain access to the blocked material, you would be required to request access through your ISP.
The move is intended to ensure that children are not exposed to sex as a routine by-product of the internet. It follows warnings about the hidden damage being done to children by sex sites.
Hidden damage? I guess by “hidden” he means damage that can’t be proven to exist, but can be used to justify restricting the rights of every one past the age of puberty.
Mr Vaizey said: “This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it’s the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children.
“I’m hoping they will get their acts together so we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.”
Yeah, clearly the ISPs should get their acts together and get past this idea that adults should be free to view what they want without having to submit a request to a higher authority.
Claire Perry, the Tory MP for Devizes and a keen lobbyist for more restrictions, said: “Unless we show leadership, the internet industry is not going to self-regulate. The minister has said he will get the ISPs together and say, ‘Either you clean out your stables or we are going to do it for you’.”
The arrogance of such a comment is mind numbing. By default it is now the responsibility of the private telecom sector to draw the line that determines what people are permitted to see on the internet.
We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure our children aren’t stumbling across things we don’t want them to see.”
No, you’re not coming from an anti-porn perspective. You’re coming from the perspective that, because you’re the government, you’re the senior parent in every family. You’re coming from the perspective of most politicians. You’re coming from the perspective of not being able to resist the exercise of power, epitomizing the very reason why politicians shouldn’t be given so much power.
This weekend some ISPs appeared ready to introduce an “opt in” clause voluntarily. Andrew Heaney, executive director of strategy and regulation for TalkTalk, said: “Our objective was not to do what the politicians want us to do but to do what was right by our customers.
Mr Heaney is very thoughtful. He’s only doing what his customers want. It has nothing to do with explicit government threats. As for the competition, fuck ‘em. They should be forced to do it”:
“If other companies aren’t going to do it of their own volition, then maybe they should be leant on. Legislation is a sledgehammer but it could work.”
We have to hand it to the UK. Unlike Australia that wanted to screen illegal material, the UK is starting in directly on content that is legal. They are also smarter in permitting people to opt out. How can you argue against something that is optional? Of course, once the censorship infrastructure is established, it’s a simple matter to make it less optional.
As I’ve said before, without exception, all governments view the internet as a threat. Democratic governments are only different in that they give lofty sounding speeches about internet freedom even as they do all in their power to bring it firmly under state control.
Thanks to Maggie McNeil for the heads-up on this news.
Reason.com has a brief, but interesting take on this story pointing out that filtering adult porn grew out of the knowledge that ISPs were already blocking child porn. Of course, the measure is voluntary:
Communications minister Ed Valzey plans to meet with the heads of the major ISPs next month. You know, just to chat…
Those UK residents who do opt for access to porn should understand it’s only a matter of time before their names are “leaked” and published on the net by moral crusaders out to embarrass them.