We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

So I suppose we are about to see how credulous people really are

The dependably nauseating David Cameron is demanding a massive infrastructure for internet censorship… oh to protect the children, of course.

And also of course, this is not really about porn… that is a bare faced lie. It is about political control. The state wants to easily be able to log what you look at and to easily block access to whatever it deems ‘unacceptable. The notion any government can be trusted with the infrastructure to control what people can see is madness.

37 comments to So I suppose we are about to see how credulous people really are

  • Puncheon

    Tyrants will always hide behind the children,old, weak and infirm, before enslaving them all.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Well, if it gets that far, the first thing will be for all liberty-loving Brits to sign up for the porn list… and maybe start a campaign to expose those who don’t as ‘wimps’?

  • Laird

    Well, I don’t approve of this action, but in fairness I don’t think Perry’s assertion that this “is about political control” is correct. The government isn’t interposing its own filters into the system (which would certainly give it the ability to monitor and control internet activity), but rather is relying on the search engines’ existing filters. The quality of those filters (their rate of “false positives”, etc.) is obviously an issue, but that’s the case anyway. As far as I can tell all this proposal would do is have the “family-friendly” setting on those filters become the default mode, subject to change by simply clicking a button. I would only be seriously concerned if the government were to attempt to control the filters themselves, or to broaden their reach to include other forms of “unacceptable” content. Which, admittedly, is a risk, but is not the issue today.

    If one accepts the government’s right to criminalize certain forms of pornography it’s difficult to argue that it can’t give effect to that ban by requiring internet service providers within its jurisdiction to block it. A hard-core libertarian would, of course, take the position that no actions between consenting adults should be prohibited, and merely filming them doesn’t change that. But it seems that the only forms of pornography the British government has criminalized (at least, the only ones mentioned in this article) are non-consensual in nature: forcible rape and child porn, since children are by definition incapable of giving informed consent. So I don’t see a libertarian objection to any of this.

    But I did find offensive his Cameron’s assertion that internet service providers have some sort of “moral duty” to censor their customers’ viewing choices. Utter bunk.

  • No Laird, this *entirely* about political control. Why? Because is about getting the infrastructure of control in place, it does not matter where that is located… as once that is done, political control is only a court order or law away any time they wish to exert it.

    If one accepts the government’s right to criminalize certain forms of pornography…

    Which I do not, simply because as a consequence they will indeed put the infrastructure in place to enable them to criminalize anything they do not wish us to see. I do indeed support criminalising *making* child porn because it constitutes statutory rape, not because it is ‘porn’ per se, as a child cannot give meaningful consent to such things, as that has far less collateral damage to legitimate freedom of expression.

  • Mr Ed

    We must protect the children’s freedoms, so those those children who make it through childhood emerge as free adults.

  • RAB

    I have moaned here and elsewhere (and the elsewhere looks pretty much Kaput to me) about having a Dongle. I only use it when visiting my mum in Cardiff with the laptop, as she’s 89 and doesn’t have the Internet and would never understand or use it if she did.

    Well it’s a Vodaphone 3G pay as you go Dongle, and it’s sub dial up speed ferchrisakes, despite there being a mast about 100 yards from the house. But it just about does for checking your email and reading the news and blogs.

    Anyway I was over there one weekend and I checked my spam filter, and there was one from Ann Summers, the sex shop chain. Out of curiosity, to find out what over-priced tat they were trying to titilate the punters with, I tried to open it. Vodaphone wouldn’t let me. A box popped up telling me I had to get their permission to view this site. Well fuck that I thought to myself, I was only curious after all, and let it go.

    Thing was though, later I tried to get into the Biased BBC site, and the same friggin message came up! This was very worrying. It has nothing to do with Porn but appears to be proscribed by Vodaphone. So these filters are already in place, and if you want to opt in then you have to go through the hassle of doing so. Those that do will be on a little list somewhere, and they will come for you at their leasure.

    We already know that GCHQ reads every email and mouse-click, and that Google etc are very selective as to what you can search for, now this. The potato face twat that is iDave is now up there with the Traitor Heath in my estimation. Hands off the Net you control freak bastards!

  • Paul Marks

    Even the BBC admitted that perverts do not get to see the images of child rape by using search engines (they have their own ways of sharing things with each other).

    So it is not about sex it is indeed about power (as the feminists say of rape).

    “Give us unlimited power – we only want the power to protect the children!” is the scam.

    And companies such as Vodaphone (terrified of losing the franchise they paid too much for anyway) will go along with the state.

  • Sam Duncan

    I’ll tell you how we know it’s not about porn: because the industry already spends a fortune tackling it. The “family-friendly” setting – SafeSearch – is the default on Google, Laird, and underage pr0n shouldn’t get through at all. Some no doubt does, but Google spends $15m a year trying to stop it. As RAB reports, mobile operators are already over-agressive with their filtering. Yet Cameron tries to give the impression that they were lazing around in their money-pits full of gold doing bugger-all about it until he piped up. It’s utter nonsense. I can’t find the link right now, but I was reading a piece just the other day about how it’s harder than ever to stumble across internet porn accidentally, and fewer children report doing so than a decade ago (even then, it was a lower percentage than the scaremongers would have you think).

    This can only be about the state grabbing control.

    Or plain dimwitted ignorance. It’s hard to tell with Cameron.

  • RRS

    Point:

    . . .how credulous people really are.

    .

    The notion any government can be trusted with the infrastructure to control what people can see is madness.

    emphasis added

    In general, “people” do not trust governments; nor the individuals directing them.

  • Miv Tucker

    “Won’t Somebody Please Think Of The Children?”
    “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qh2sWSVRrmo”

  • guy

    I personally think modern anti-porn crusades are simply a desperate attempt to get more men back into marriage/fatherhood without having to address any of the underlying reasons why more men are turning away from marriage/fatherhood.

  • I wonder how effective these filters will be. I was surfing the web on my tablet at a friend’s the other day and her Virgin Media blocked me, I was looking at torrent.eu I believe, and the block was easily circumvented by switching to Tor.
    Of course, the “next logical step” is then to block Tor, and that’s when the gloves have come off. Of course, by then, it’s too late.
    Infrastructure of control indeed. With the added bonus of getting all those who opt out on a watch list.
    Not to say that opting out will get you hauled off to a camp, the modern police state is far too clever. But don’t be surprised if that CRB check you fI’ll in comes back positive. Or you can’t adopt/Foster. Or get a liquor license.

  • Mr Ed

    Well what about these vans advertising to ‘illegal immigrants’ that they should go home and giving them a number to text for advice?

    Will we see ‘anti-porn’ adverts being driven round the neighbourhoods of Great Britain?

    @wh00ps I don’t think that ‘effectiveness’ of the filters is the issue, it’s about salami-slicing away at unfettered access to the internet, and then having a list of who wants unfettered access. (Note: Link is to a celebrated Dad’s Army scene).

  • Rich Rostrom

    Perry de Havilland (London) July 22, 2013 at 3:41 pm:I do indeed support criminalising *making* child porn because it constitutes statutory rape…

    There is porn which consists of narrative fiction. No actual persons were involved in making it, other than the author. Some of this describes sex with children. Some of it is illustrated with cartoons or drawings.

    Should it be criminalized?

    There is plenty of written sadomasochistic porn fiction, some of which depicts the mutilation and murder of unwilling victims including children.

    Should it be criminalized?

    CGI gets more realistic every year. In the near future, it will be possible to generate explicit realistic child or rape video porn that is completely synthetic.

    Should such video be criminalized?

  • Mr Ed

    @ Rich, you are behind the curve, I think, pseudo-images of that ilk are already criminalised, I believe on utilitarian grounds to facilitate convictions.

  • You can deduce my position on that from my earlier comment. It is child rape I am against. I could not care less about ‘porn’.

  • @RAB:

    I think you might benefit from a 3 Mobile dongle (not an item found in the Anne Summers catalogues) as it gives reasonable speed and I don’t recall ever being blocked from any sites.

    I get 1GB of pay-as-you-go for £10, which lasts me about 3-weeks worth of browsing and internet. As I buy top-up vouchers in cash from the 3 Mobile, the device is unregistered and as private as internet connections can be in this day-and-age.

    This way I take a broadband speed internet connection wherever I go and don’t have to cough up £15 per month line rental to BT.

  • Jim

    How many married/attached men are going to be cursing DC right now?

    ‘Of course we must opt for the SafeSearch broadband my dear, for the children, as you say’

    [Sobs inwardly at the thought of no more nubile young things to have a quick w@nk over]

    Perhaps this could lead to a revival of the porn stash. Producers of mags and DVDs must be rubbing their hands in glee. Asian newsagents will do well out of it too I suspect.

  • Mr Ed

    @ RAB, JG. I have a 3 Mobile Dongle, it’s very good, access in darkest Suffolk. I just fear that DC will ban the use of a ‘Dongle’ on the basis that it sounds dodgy.

  • Valerie Smyth

    How many married/attached men are going to be cursing DC right now?

    ‘Of course we must opt for the SafeSearch broadband my dear, for the children, as you say’

    Not every married woman freaks out at the idea of porn, Jim :D

  • RAB

    Ta John Galt and Mr Ed. That’s Vodaphone consigned to the dustbin then; 3 Mobile here I come!

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    I wonder how soon before the extent of the ban somehow spreads? For instance, a few years ago, our then-PM Rudd managed to get an art gallery closed down because of what he thought of as paedophilia in the paintings. However, what if the artist had simply used some petite models? One of our actresses, Pia Miranda, is beautiful, AND looks at least half her real age- so should she be forbidden from modelling, or starring in movies, just in case someone thinks she is a child? It won’t be long before selfies get banned by the EU, on grounds of human dignity, or some other law!

  • Gareth

    Laird said:

    Well, I don’t approve of this action, but in fairness I don’t think Perry’s assertion that this “is about political control” is correct. The government isn’t interposing its own filters into the system (which would certainly give it the ability to monitor and control internet activity), but rather is relying on the search engines’ existing filters.

    Child porn blocking already goes on and search engines are taking part in that. Regular porn requiring an opt-in is meant to be done at an ISP level I think. The latter is the thing Dave is wanting but it is the former that is often invoked in support of this change even though it is practically irrelevant to the opt-in issue.

  • Andrew Duffin

    @Laird: “I would only be seriously concerned if the government were to attempt to control the filters themselves, or to broaden their reach to include other forms of “unacceptable” content. ”

    Oh they will, Laird, they will; just give them time to get this bit accepted, then there will be a few more scare stories, then “the current voluntary option is not working”, etc etc, and the mission creep will be well under way.

    Perry is right. NO government can be trusted with these kinds of powers.

  • Mary Contrary

    @Laird: “The government isn’t interposing its own filters into the system”.

    Whose filters do you think are going to be used? I’ll tell you – as someone rather close to how this really works. ISPs like TalkTalk and Virgin don’t have staff browsing for porn all day, they buy in their filtering solutions from specialist security companies like Symantec and Detica. Those security companies do an awful lot of government business – Detica used to be a government agency doing exclusively defense work, before it got privatised.

    So when government officials call those companies in for a meeting and ask them to add a few hundred more URLs to the filter, what do you think they’re going to reply? And do you think you’ll ever be told about it?

    Perry is entirely correct. Once the infrastructure is in place, the pass is sold.

  • JohnB

    I think they are most concerned with the way liberty has momentarily triumphed (so unexpectedly and perhaps of short-lived duration).
    This having occurred as a result of the free-er exchange of ideas that the internet has enabled.

  • jerry

    Laird said
    ‘I would only be seriously concerned if the government were to attempt to control the filters themselves, or to broaden their reach to include other forms of “unacceptable” content. Which, admittedly, is a risk, but is not the issue today.’

    But it WILL be, given time. This is just the camel nose you’re seeing !!!

    Andrew Duffin is correct. Get this in place and then continue ratchet it upward
    over time by creating more incidents, dangers and psycho-babble reasons
    to protect ‘whatever victim / at risk is chosen’ !

  • jerry

    P.S.

    By the time you see the camel’s neck and front hooves, it’ll be FAR too late to fix !

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I’d just like to ask how many commenters here have kids and if so, how many of them found it easy to filter/block content?

    I don’t have children and haven’t really had to do this or thought much about it. But exactly how easy is it to do?

    I think I am going to break with procedure and state that I think Cameron is acting from honorable motives. He’s a Dad: he’s also concerned that blocking stuff for kids might be quite hard for a lot of parents to know how to do. Where he and his colleagues are at fault is not seeing the potential for misuse. This applies to a lot of things: politicians are not evil, just short-sighted about consequences and unintended effects.

    I should and would have thought that the big internet firms, trying to win over parents’ custom, should make it as easy as possible for them to supervise what their children get to watch. In a free market, reputation is all. If some of the large companies out there get a reputation for making it hard or tricky to find out how to screen vile images, it will hurt them.

  • Fair point, JP. Personally, I never blocked or filtered anything – neither on TV, on the internet or on video games. Instead, I used to limit the amount of time spent on all three. Not saying that this is the best approach, but it did work fairly well in my case. The reason I went that route was that I never really bought into the notion that merely seeing something on a screen can damage a child’s mind or cause them to behave in a way seen on screen, etc. I’m still not buying it – could be wrong, of course.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    Jonathan: I have a toddler, am about to have a second child and I am not concerned about this. Now I have all the technical expertise I need to enforce whatever censorship regime I like at home, but I currently plan to censor nothing at all. The trick is to educate children properly, explain to them what it is they are seeing. Porn is not easy to find accidentally; if they see do porn it will not harm them if they understand what they are seeing.

    Some porn is pretty horrible for sure. I wonder if it might be better to ensure that, should they take an interest, they find the nicer porn first; this is probably illegal, though.

  • Rob Fisher (Surrey)

    “I should and would have thought that the big internet firms, trying to win over parents’ custom, should make it as easy as possible for them to supervise what their children get to watch.”

    They already do: http://www.productsandservices.bt.com/consumer/consumerProducts/pdf/BT_Family_Protection_userguide.pdf

  • I think I am going to break with procedure and state that I think Cameron is acting from honorable motives

    Oh JP, you wild and crazy funster you! You used the words Cameron and Honourable in the same sentence! You have clearly missed your true vocation: stand up comedy!

  • Tedd

    This is a foot-in-the-door regulatory move. Governments want to regulate the internet, but attempts to do so directly have met too much political resistance, so they’re now going through the back door. There are two very common ways government starts regulating an industry. One is by being asked to regulate it by existing businesses in the the industry, so that those businesses can enjoy easier access to capital, barriers to entry for competitors and, in some cases, protection from liability. The other is by identifying a hot-button issue that can be somehow linked to the industry, to give government a foot in the door. Since the former hasn’t happened with internet businesses (mostly), the latter is being invoked.

    I’m quite sure that some of the politicians who are calling for porn filters are merely useful idiots who genuinely believe they’re doing something good for society.

  • Laird

    I understand the “camel’s nose” argument and am somewhat sympathetic to it, but not to the point of getting as concerned about this issue as some (most?) of you appear to be. And it dosn’t really answer my point anyway.

    However, I think that Mary Contrary’s comment about who builds those filters is a legitimate answer, and frankly isn’t one I had considered. My assumption was that the ISPs built their own filters, which run on some sort of proprietary “porn-detecting” algorithm. Apparently that’s not the case (per Mary, and I have no basis to doubt her expertise). If it really is a handful of third-part experts who are building these filters, I have no difficulty whatsoever in believing that the government (especially the arrogant and heavy-handed US government) would force them to comply with its wishes and use them to suppress any material deemed “objectionable”. As Mary says, we would never know. So I’m withdrawing my previous (and admittedly tepid) defense of Cameron’s proposal.

  • Laird

    I see that Charles C. W. Cooke in National Review Online has embraced Perry’s “power grab” argument.

  • Pardone

    Narcissistic parents don’t want their kids to see anything that might encourage their children to develop their own identity. To the Narcissus parent, external threats are the perfect excuse to limit and constrain the child, binding them to the parent’s poisonous narcissism.

    Cameron, one of the major stars of Electosluts, has been eagerly taking it deep and hard from Mr. Crosby, and his hard stance on porn seems rather soft when one considers his being so chummy with Richard Desmond, a man who shoves porn in front of kids far more aggressively than any website.