First They Came For The Wankers

The government’s first big attempt at web censorship is an attempt to ban pornography from the internet ‘for the kids’. To be precise:

Under the scheme to protect children from extreme images, hardcore sites would be automatically banned from ALL UK homes.

Anyone who wanted to access them would have to “opt in” – but first prove they are over 18.

In itself this is a massive violation of sexual privacy- anyone who fancies a wank to internet porn will have to provide the government with their name and proof of identity. All this despite the fact that there is very little actual evidence that pornography harms anyone.

Once the precenedent and technology exists to force ISP’s to censor objectionable content how long will it be restricted to porn?

File sharing websites supposedly cost the music and film industry millions so they’ll be blocked.

Racism’s bad so filtering out racist sites won’t be controversial- until it is realised that anyone sceptical of immigration or critical of Islamic extremism can no longer be read without ticking a box that says “I am a Nazi who wants to view hate sites”.

This government is no different from it’s predecessor in its contempt for civil liberties.

14 comments for “First They Came For The Wankers

  1. June 25, 2011 at 11:18 am

    You could have inserted links to some of these so-called “porn sites” just for research purposes, I’d love to know what all the fuss is about.

  2. PT
    June 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    You’re right, of course. Eventually, after a process of one drip at a time, step by tiny, on the face of it reasonable tiny step, few people will be able to access what they want to see on the internet without providing for our Stasi state what amounts to a statement of personal and political preferences. When this point is reached, failure to use the internet for most everyday transactions will be viewed as prima facie suspicious, or its use will actually be compulsory.

  3. microdave
    June 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    “File sharing websites supposedly cost the music and film industry millions so they’ll be blocked.”

    Some of them already are. Thanks to the Internet Watch Foundation list Filesonic, for one, is effectively unavailable to UK surfers. Just because they may have hosted one “dodgy” film clip, the entire content gets put behind an electronic closed door.

    • Paul
      June 26, 2011 at 12:13 am

      Exactly. Quite a lot of UK subscribers lost the use of that service due to this block, let’s put it that way.

      But again, denying access to thousands of subscribers on the back of a few dodgy links is par for the course. Collective punishment as always.

    • June 26, 2011 at 8:16 am

      Microdave, I didn’t know about that. Maybe it’s the file sharing that is the thin end of the wedge more than the porn.

  4. June 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    I’m a social conservative and a recovering libertarian which means I don’t have any fundamental philosophical problems per se with the state enforcing morality. Censoring porn might or might not work – to some value of work – but I’m bang alongside the purist libertarians on this one in practise if not in ethics.
    The power to censor unmonitored access to online pornography, once taken up by the state, will almost certainly (and immediately) be used to censor other kinds of antisocial and harmful kinds of thoughts, ideas and images, i.e., the discussion and exposition of everything, pretty much, that people who post to and comment on this blog believe in and wish to say.
    In earlier, pre-New Labour days it might have been realistic to hope that a pornography censoring government (such as Mrs. Thatcher’s might have been if Al Gore had invented the Internet in time) might stop right there, but today it’s a fair bet that they’d move immediately, for example, to forcing us to log on and thus admit who we are in order to view or post ‘hateful images’ of the Religion of Peace going about its explosive work, or ‘divisive’ discussions of immigration or welfare dependency.
    So, despite the wisdom of decades (!) seeing how purist individual freedom can generate some very negative externalities I’m very much back in the Murray Rothbard, KYFHO crowd again. Embarrassing.

    • June 26, 2011 at 8:18 am

      I don’t think you need to be a libertarian purist to think censorship is a dangerous path to go down, even when inspired by hysteria about pornography.

  5. Dave_G
    June 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    It always comes down to inconveniencing the ‘many’ for the sake of the ‘few’ – more so if there’s money to be made.

  6. nemesis
    June 26, 2011 at 12:03 am

    It occurs to me that the hackers are more clever than the regulators, judging on past performance.

  7. Voice of Reason
    June 26, 2011 at 2:41 am

    In the US, they’ve just effectively banned gambling on the internet. ‘Just another sin’.

    • Paul
      June 26, 2011 at 5:13 am

      It’s been banned in Denmark for some time.

    • June 26, 2011 at 8:20 am

      I know they’ve prosecuted the heads of gambling companies based overseas but is it really difficult to gamble online in the USA?

  8. June 26, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Not only is the scope for “Niemöller’s creep” unconstrained but so are the opportunities for usually impossible-to-reverse bureaucratic cock-ups. Remember the Australian net nanny banning access to a Dutch driving school?

  9. Lord T
    June 27, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Soon everyone who knows anything will be on a Tor server and they just carry on as before. About 10 minutes after the legislation, which takes months to implement, is in place there will be ways around it. Filesharing still goes on.

    Luckily politicians are extremely thick. The bright boys are on our side.

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