So you thought this Coalition was less draconian than New labour? Think again
Internet filtering across the public estate is essential. We want to ensure that users in schools, libraries, colleges and Immigration Removal Centres are unable to access unlawful material. We will continue to work closely with DfE, BIS, the CTIRU, Regional Broadband Consortia and the filtering industry. We want to explore the potential for violent and unlawful URL lists to be voluntarily incorporated into independent national blocking lists, including the list operated by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
Wrong! This isn’t the policy of some tin-pot despot; this is the policy of the UK government. It’s on page 79 of the new ‘Prevent Strategy’ document presented by the Home Office to Parliament this very month.
Basically, the government wants to be able to block sites that it declares to be ‘illegal’ without any reference to the courts. The Internet Watch Foundation, specifically referenced in this paragraph, is currently charged with preventing access to child abuse sites. It operates a voluntary blacklist that is adopted by many ISPs to block access to child abuse sites. A Good Thing. If it stopped there.
It’s a little ambiguous, but the government’s new intent is clear. Either by expanding the IWF’s blacklist, or by developing a new ‘voluntary’ blacklist incorporating the IWF list, all sorts of URLs considered dangerous by the government will effectively disappear from the internet on a voluntary basis. It says ‘the public estate’, and few will argue that schools should be protected. But libraries? Colleges? Will it, could it, stop there? Once a website is voluntarily included on the website, we won’t be able to see it. And what if it’s your website? With no judicial oversight it is hard to see where you can appeal.
This is censorship, plain and simple. It defies every concept of freedom of thought and expression. It is dictatorial. And it is very, very dangerous.
Cameron is Blair in a different mask.