Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Brave move

Our prime minister is reported as saying that the same filters used to block porn sites will be used to block extremist web sites. Hansard definitely reports that he is talking of "blocking online sites".

Update: We can't find a proper source for the idea that the porn filtering will be used for this. It makes sense, having badgered large ISPs to have filtering at all, but we cannot find the actual source of that connection.

This is quite brave really. After all, we are not China, or North Korea, yet our prime minister seems to be scared of some people's views, so scared that he is prepared to mess with national communications infrastructure to block the public seeing these views.

I was under the impression that we were all responsible enough to make our own mind up over what we choose to believe when exposed to other peoples views, no matter how extreme they are, but no, apparently we need a Nanny State.

I was under the impression that holding views and expressing them was a basic human right, no matter how extreme or crazy those views are... but no, apparently not! Not if your views are too extreme.

Really, is this how we do things now? Silence the extreme views; Ban wrong thinking; Herd the population like sheep and make sure they can only see the right views and right thinking to ensure they do not form their own opinion of anything.

Of course, this will not stop extremist views, or stop people accessing web sites - no blocks will be able to do that short of making the Internet totally unusable. What this will do is give such sites a huge stamp of credibility for being so dangerous in their views that the prime minister is scared of them. Any site with any "anti government" viewpoint will want that stamp of credibility, and will just publish links via google translate or other proxies so everyone can see their views. Or are we banning google translate as well now?

It does rather expose the real reason for these calls for filters - many of us said this was just to ensure every ISP has a filtering system in place so that the filters could be extended bit by bit. I am surprised that the prime minister has not even waited for the major ISPs to all have the porn filters in place before showing his hand and extending the remit to cover extremist web sites. There is a fine line between extremist and minority, and it is always one small reasonable step forward to add the next level of unapproved viewpoints to the list, especially when the list of banned sites will not be under any supervision or scrutiny.

Maybe I was wrong, maybe we are in North Korea after all. A&A still have no filters, and short of some very well written laws, we won't.

16 comments:

  1. The plan to block / tackle "extremist" websites has cropped up repeatedly since 2011 and I think that now they have a vehicle for that then the measures will be pushed through.

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2011/06/09/uk-government-seeking-to-expand-website-blocking-remit-through-iwf.html

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/story/2012/02/06/home-affairs-committee-calls-upon-uk-isps-to-remove-violent-extremism-sites.html

    http://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2013/06/uk-culture-secretary-hauls-in-isps-to-boost-internet-censorship.html

    Eventually I can see all of this being pushed upon smaller ISPs too.

    MarkJ
    ISPreview.co.uk

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  2. Well that's OK isn't it? If it's the same filtering system, presumably I can just tick the box that says "yes I want both porn and extreme views" or go to an ISP that addresses the filtering question thus: "we let you access the whole internet, if you want filtering (and no IPv6) pick another ISP"

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    1. I think they view this one like child abuse content, which is to say that they want it blocked by default. Now how you define a website as "terrorism" or similar I do not know. How do you split making model rockets from making an IED?

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  3. It's a disturbing development ... I hope that if A&A is ever forced to implement this censorship nonsense, the first sites blocked will be those of the dangerous extremist groups fighting against free online expression, such as conservatives.com?

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  4. Yeah ban any groups attempting to reduce freedom of thinking and expression, have anti-democratic views, have totalitarian tendencies and are terrorist (as using terrorism as political system - governing by fear).... oops looks like Cameron just shoot himself in the foot.

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  5. Will A&A ever offer a tunnel-type service for people to subscribe to, if (as in my case) they're tied to a specific ISP for other reasons? If this already exists, please excuse my ignorance and point me towards said service!

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    1. You can colocate a FireBrick for £15.10/month+VAT plus bandwidth and tunnel to it, though personally I'd stick to a dedicated VPN operator for that.

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  6. The new "anti-lobbying" law will limit NGO and not-for-profit organisations like 38 degrees actions (while I'm sure it will preserve banks, arms and other industries donors), the next step is to prevent them to be able to speak on-line...
    Scary when we know that "extremist groups" already infiltrated by the police include peoples doing things as dangerous as leafleting in front of McDonald's (Greenpeace London).

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  7. My views are too extreme *Gulp*

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  8. I`ve been asked a few times now why I stay with A&A rather than jump to a "cheaper" mainstream ISP.
    Reliability is one, transparency is another but unfiltered internet access is the main one.
    I want the "whole" internet not some walled-garden policed by my ISP.

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  9. I must be an extremist, because I'm extremely pissed-off that Cameron, instead of running the country on our behalf, is turning it into a totalitatian dictatorship!

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  10. I am German, but I have lived in the UK for 16 years and I love this country. I am shocked, appalled and sad watching what is happening to a once great democracy. This measure is censorship and nothing else. We already have laws, according to which content is either legal or illegal. If it illegal, then those that publish and access it are subject to prosecution. If it is legal, there can be no reason why it should be blocked, censored or anything else.

    As a German, I am perhaps more aware of the history of the rise of the Nazis than the British, who only focus on the part since WW2 started. The Nazi persecution of Jews and other minorities started more than 5 years earlier, and initially it was not violent. It was done through laws and regulations that had the appearance of legitimacy and of course vague and undefined terms, such as "undesirable elements". And it was not only persecuted minorities. Any German, however Arian, could be thrown into the slammer for the serious offence of "listening to enemy broadcasts". After WW2, in East Germany, the regime used the same methods to suppress freedom of speech.

    Why do the British people not wake up to the fact that they are on the top of a slippery slope into an oppressive police state? The censorship of "extremist" websites will soon extend to "offensive" content, and then to "undesirable" content, and before you know it, everything that is not political mainstream will be censored. And since of course it can be circumvented through proxies VPNs and the like, it will become illegal to use those (like the Nazi-era offense of "listening to enemy broadcasts"). If you think this is outlandish, think again.

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    1. I'm happy more people are starting to see whats happening :)

      More people need to stop being so afraid to ask questions, and taking a stand for the freedoms they have today before its gone tomorrow.

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  11. adrian its been like this for a while, the PM is also I think going to block more snowdon leaks using D notices. they have no issue with papers printing lies every week as long as it suits political aims but when truth comes out that hurts them they will want to censor. Of course I am not ayin extremist views are the truth, they may or may not be, but everyone should have a voice if its peaceful.

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  12. Sadly, I think the British establishment has always held the "we know best and the rest of you do as you are told" attitude. It is just reverting to type.They have always been fearful of the external and internal enemies, particularly the latter. The myth of "tolerant England" was ever a useful foil, especially for money-making. If the Nazis had invaded the English would have been amongst the most enthusiastic collaborators. They did as Churchill told them, instead. But I don't think it was high-minded principle. As I grew up, still in the shadow of the war, it looked for a time as though principle was on the ascendency, but it couldn't last. Democracy doesn't work if people think for themselves.

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