Thursday, January 09, 2014

It’s unforgvable to pander to fears

Cory Doctorow writes about Britain’s idiotic firewall.  Here’s one of the things he says:

It's not evil to want to help parents with this hard job. But it's unforgivable to pander to their fears, offer false hope, and impose a regime of unaccountable censorship upon the nation's internet in order to score votes from frightened parents.

He’s right.  He’s also right when he says that the filter already is and always will block good stuff and fail to block bad stuff.  It’s an inevitable own goal and a shining tribute to politically expedient point-scoring.

But there’s another problem that Cory doesn’t mention in this article.  The filter is opt-out.  This means that it’s on by default and households need to instruct their ISP to turn it off. So there’s a list of households who choose to opt into porn and ‘esoteric content’.  If I want uncensored access to the Internet, I have no choice but to be on this list.

I cannot imagine a world where this list is not eventually put to sinister use.  Lists like this can be used to manufacture ‘evidence’ and negatively influence juries. If I were accused of a sex crime or act of terrorism, police could use my opting into ‘esoteric content’ as a vehicle to bring charges and lawyers could use the fact to shock and manipulate a jury.  All regardless of whether or not I’ve looked at illegal stuff. 

And, what is worse, other members of my household will be tarred by my brush without even necessarily knowing that I’ve opted out of a censored Internet. 

All of this violates every basic principle of privacy.  We’re all complicit in allowing it to happen.  We’re all responsible for the consequences.  We’ve all agreed to live in the world the Daily Mail wants so desperately to exist.

1 comment:

  1. Carrie8:32 pm

    That is scary. One thing that can help is to use a VPN which allows browsing etc with a fake IP. That way you can avoid being on a List and still access the Internet freely.

    I suspect that people in countries that do not allow even harmless sites and social media use VPNs to get through.