It’s already been announced that the government are to press ahead with their controversial plans to create a huge database of the all the activities of every internet user in the UK . Every time you visit any website, the time and date and the name of the website will be recorded. There are no exemptions.
Such a system of blanket surveillance has not been used or proposed in any other country.
You might think then, that after such an announcement, they would have been a little muted for a short while in proposing yet more heavy handed legislation aimed at the internet. Not a bit of it. Now they really seem to have the bit between their teeth and are charging full steam ahead with, if possible, even more draconian powers.
In the 1980’s, as a result of the backlash against video nasties , the government handed complete censorship of all video media to the British Board of Film Censors, now renamed the British Board of Film Classification (because they don’t like to be thought of as censors). A bit like the ministry of propaganda preferred to be called the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s 1984. Appropriately enough, this bill was made law in 1984.
Now, the latest proposal is to effectively hand censorship of the entire internet over to the same people!
The argument is that if a website which is unsuitable for children does not have adequate checks in place to verify the users age, the BBFC will be able to block it. This might sound reasonable in theory but in practice it will culminate in a monstrous invasion of internet freedom and dangers for internet users. Here’s why:
Most people know that such controls can be effectively by-passed with use of a proxy servers, or on a phone or tablet a simple app which redirects internet traffic through a secure unfiltered connection. The problem with this is that it introduces a whole new level of risk and exposure to criminality. Traffic can be routed, without the user knowing, via servers which are known to contain criminal content thus giving the appearance that the user has been accessing child pornography, terrorist information or other material which could incriminate them.
Amongst the honest firms who run proxy servers there are con-men and criminals waiting to catch the unwary. Ransom demands and other criminal activity is often the actual business which is sitting behind a link for what appears to be a proxy server. If you don’t believe me, please do your own research.
Identification will be a nightmare. Making porn or other websites take credit or debit card details as a check of age is preposterous. Very few people would want to trust giving their credit or debit card details to a website just to even see what is on it.
It’s even been suggested that these websites could cross check the UK electoral roll. How’s that supposed to work? Presumably not so anybody can give the name and address of someone they dislike and that goes down on the government’s list of names and addresses of people who’ve visited dodgy websites?
The BBFC can not just censor but entirely block any web site that contains anything they disagree with! For example if the site contains anything which they would not allow in a BBFC certificated video. They would argue that it was their duty . Since a website containing any nudity at all, or discussion of sex, or any other thing which is not suitable for children , should be behind an age protected barrier, this will allow them to block any web site they wish. If a site with discussion about something which is not suitable for a small child, say in the US or Canada, cannot be bothered to deal with the BBFC, it can simply be blocked completely in the UK if the owners do not cravenly submit to the demands of a government censor in another country! Not that the websites will probably care, having written off internet users in the UK the same way as they would people who are blocked from access by any other dictatorial government around the world.
In addition to websites being blocked, if a server contains a small amount of anything which is unsuitable for children, the domain itself, containing many other web sites, can be blocked. Because most countries in the world are more broad minded and less adamant about state control of what people see than the UK, nobody else will have noticed that UK users are being blocked from access to perfectly normal information just because their domain has been blacklisted.
Who is going to pay for this work to be done? The BBFC can currently pay for their video censorship work because the Video Recordings Act requires that by law firms in the UK have no option but to pay their fees ranging from several thousand pounds for each video submitted.
How do you think the BBFC is going to get on with the owners of foreign websites?
Ah, hello Mr Dirty Website Owner, this is the BBFC here, we want you to follow our regulations and pay us or fees or I’m afraid I’ll have to inform you that her majesty’s government will block UK users from access to your website.
Mr Dirty Website Owner’s response is something which you can probably imagine yourself. It probably involves some rather colourful language telling the BBFC where they can stick their regulations and fees.
The government has already required ISPs to provide filtered child friendly internet connections for anyone who wants it. However, since the population have generally been less than enthusiastic about uptake of filtered internet connections the government has decided that this is not good enough and so you *will* have a censored internet connection *and like it* even though 70% of households in the UK have no children.
If this truly was a matter of protecting children, then the problem would lie with the 10 to 15 % of homes with children, where the adults have not switched on the filters. It would be far more sensible to amend the law to require homes where children are present to have the filters switched on. But this just proves that it *isn’t* just a matter of protecting children, what they really want is *total* control, and you don’t get that with a opt in scheme. The plan is to censor the internet to the extent that these filtered connections are no longer required.
Going back to proxy servers again, since this is such an easy way to avoid the censorship, and since, unfortunately, proxy servers allow access to anything, even stuff 99.9% of people really don’t want to see, this will give the government a *perfect excuse* to ban proxy servers as well. And there you have it: TOTAL INTERNET CENSORSHIP. You could probably still download and install a proxy server, but if you are detected using it you could be marched down to the local police station for questioning, and since there is no excuse to be using a proxy server as they will be illegal, they can assume you were planning a terrorist attack or watching child pornography and throw you in jail. Sorry, I mean detain you in a cell pending trial, for the public good.
WAKE UP BRITAIN! Please don’t allow the control freaks to take over your county. Print this article out, send it to your MP – don’t let MPs simply be carried along by misguided nanny state meddling in basic democratic freedom under the guise of protecting the children . The onus should be on parents to switch on the filters that have already been provided, not treat every adult in the UK as a child.
This proposed legislation is a continuation of the very slippery slope towards total state surveillance and control which has already been approved. If you don’t stand up to this next level of state control, what will they think they can get away with next?
Don’t take this warning lightly, unless enough people object they will steamroller ahead with it and you will loose your freedom. Unless you want your internet to be suitable for a pre school toddler with a vast number of other harmless pages and websites blocked as a result, send this article to your MP now and ask for his or her comments.