'Mastery of the internet will mean mastery of everyone' - Henry Porter, The Guardian.
Once a precedent for censoring anything has been put in place, it becomes easier to impose further censorship in the future. Through appealing to people's protective instincts towards women and children, the UK government is attempting to take the first steps into internet censorship in the UK.
The current coalition government is in the process of setting a dangerous precedent: censoring parts of the internet it deems problematic. At the moment, the focus is solely on requiring internet service providers (for example, BT, Virgin, Sky) to get their users to 'opt in' to being able to access pornographic material online. But blanket-censoring pornography on the internet is a worrying first step towards the government controlling what UK citizens can access online.
The reasons for the censorship seem well-intentioned at present. David Cameron says he wants to protect children from seeing pornographic material, and clamp down on paedophilic images online. Women's rights groups have campaigned for censorship of rape pornography online. However, it is important to note that blanket censorship of the internet is not the answer.
This is not about pornography in the long term.Pushing the emotive buttons of 'protecting the children' and 'protecting women' are clever tactics to generate knee-jerk responses that this is a good thing to allow. But if we accept that pornography should be filtered, where is the next step? One might predict that all websites 'with links to terrorism' should be filtered, but who decides which websites these are? Could all websites criticising the government eventually be censored?
This is a worrying turn of events in the light of the information Edward Snowden has revealed about the extent of the powers the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has to monitor the webpages people visit. Combined with censorship, the way the government controls what you see online could be altered to fit its own political adgendas in the future.
Do we really want to let our internet be censored in this way? Please sign this petition to prevent information restriction in the future.
An article on the BBC website (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23401076) gives David Cameron's position on this.
The Guardian has covered Edward Snowden's revelations on the UK government's spying on citizens here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/jun/21/gchq-cables-secret-world-communications-nsa
'Mastery of the internet...' quote taken from here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/21/gchq-mastery-internet-mastery-everyone
Dear Mr. Cameron and Mr. Clegg,
We, the undersigned, oppose the policy outlined on the BBC News website on 22nd July 2013, whereby pornography on the internet will be censored by default. We applaud the sentiments of protecting children and vulnerable women, but maintain that a blanket censorship that people have to actively opt out of, thereby admitting that we wish to view adult material, is not the solution.
Since it becomes much easier to add things to a censorship list once a censorship list has been created, we oppose this happening at all, whether or not we wish to view legal pornography in the privacy of our own homes.
We would suggest that there are much more effective and targeted ways to cut down the amounts of pornography children are exposed to - for example, any child can open a tabloid newspaper and see a topless model on page three. This is something children do not even need the internet to view, and encourages the objectification of women. Blanket censorship of pornography on the internet will only result in details of how to get around the filters going viral, which will render the measures useless and yet provide a dangerous precedent for censorship in the UK.
Please reconsider these Orwellian measures and preserve internet freedoms within the boundaries of the law.