back to article plans net censor service

The minister responsible for internet regulation is planning a new mediation service to encourage ISPs and websites to censor material in response to public complaints. Ed Vaizey said internet users could use the service to ask for material that is "inaccurate" or infringes their privacy to be removed. It would offer a low …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Please no more legislation

    Yes initially it will be opening dialogue and then they will twist the thumb screws. Most UK ISPs are making no money as it is so how in the hell are they expected to regulate the Internet as well. Yet more foolish government ideas with no business experience and consequent bad decision making.

  2. Ian Ferguson

    First suggestion:

    Remove, inaccurate information, eh? Hmm...

    Let's submit*

  3. There's a bee in my bot net

    How long...

    until this affects facebook?

    And I'm guessing Ed hasn't read 'how the internet works for dummies' either.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Attention Mr. Vaizey

    First Rule: In a technology centric society: Don't Fuck With the Computer Geeks

    Second Rule: See First Rule

    There's an idiot with a village waiting for you in Australia.

  5. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

    So, a way of 'removing information' from the internet

    For the use of 'the public', eh? At the moment, if someone publishes something libellous about me on the internet, I have the recourse of suing them for libel, which would almost certainly also result int eh offending material being removed from the web. What this proposal actually does is open up a mechanism for industry interests and government to censor metarial on the internet.

    Now, on the one hand, illegal material (won't someone thing of the children, etc.) should be removed from the interent when found; if hosted in this country, prosecutions would be made against those hosting it, if hosted elsewhere, there is a fair argument for blocking it. however, on the other hand, once you start having things censored on the internet, how are you to know what is being blocked, for what reasons, and by whom. Taking a step down this route is taking a step towards a totalitarian state. Unfortunately, despite kicking a fair number of them out at the last election, it seems that there are still politicos left in Whitehall wearing jackboots.

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Apologies for typos

      I have stupid fingers today. How about allowing us to make minor edits to our posts please mods?

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Apologies for typos

        You might want to take a moment here and imagine what life would actually be like if commenters could edit their own comments.

        On an unrelated topic, I was watching that Time Machine film the other day and there was this really awesome bit where the moon was breaking up and the entire world was in chaos and under martial law and stuff.

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge


          I can imagine the chaos that maty ensue if posters were allowed to edit their comments (this is why I included the modifier 'minor'). However, allow me to do this thing, and I can guarantee that I will prevent the moon from breaking up and crashing into the Earth*.

          Actually, come to think of it, you should allow me to also edit the posts of others, that could be much more amusing on a slow moving Friday afternoon...

          *By generally allowing it to continue on its slowly outward spiralling orbit away from the Earth, no matter how many pieces it happens to be smashed into.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward


            If there's one thing that the Internet is teaching people, it's that what they say sticks. The lesson is to think about what you have in mind before you actually say it.

            The nice Mr Schmidt of Google made this point recently when he suggested that you can always change your name, shortly before having CNN change what he'd said.


        2. JaitcH

          Many web sites allow post editing

          "You might want to take a moment here and imagine what life would actually be like if commenters could edit their own comments."

          I took several moments and still can't see the problem.

          There is a little risk in allowing post editing - I moderate or administer a number of web sites and have never found post-editing to be a problem.

          In fact it makes moderators work easier, so more can be achieved with less labour. Works for The Daily Beast - which is a very hot forum.

          1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

            Meanwhile, what the big swinging dicks and SMART sheikhs have discovered is .......

            I was going to say ... "How about a compromise ....... a preview button, for post inspection before posting.", for how much simpler can it be to re-read what one has thought and written before one shares, with the world and his dog, that which tickles your fancy or rattles your chain ........ and then, silly me, discovered that such is already provided here.

            Like it or not, Schmidty wasn't wrong and good advice is to stay off the Internet if you don't know what you are doing, for what you are doing is easily enough known to those who would know what they doing and be more than a tad interested in, or be exorbitantly well paid to lead the certain doing of others.

            A Playground IT is for the Innocently Naive and Endlessly Inquisitive, and a Graveyard too for the Wilfully Abusive and Destructively Evil and Constructively Dishonest.

        3. Anonymous Coward

          Post editing

          I've seen a few examples of post editing capability that works for a minute or two after posting. Long enough to catch typos but short enough to not worry the moderation queue.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: a way of removing...

      "I have the recourse of suing them for libel, which would almost certainly also result in the offending material being removed from the web."

      Would it really? Tell that to the Pentagon. Then, politely suggest to that if the most powerful military machine on the planet can't censor the web then it is unlikely that UK ISPs will be able to. You might also helpfully point out that the mere threat of *existing* UK laws means that almost everything that might offend UK consumers is already hosted outside the UK's legal jurisdiction.

      Lastly, suggest that this means we've already got all the legislation that we could reasonably want, and that further censorship would require technical changes to how the internet works, such as aligning the assignment of IP address ranges with legal jurisdictions. (It would then be trivial to restrict your internet to those countries whose legal systems you agreed with.) This would, of course, require international agreement, which is harder that pushing another Dangerous Dogs Act through parliament, but I'm sure you'd have the support of many.

      China currently emulates such a system by means of a massive firewall, if you want some idea of how the system would appear to end-users. I'm sure they'd support your efforts to make such firewalling a simple matter of router configuration.

      Another group of happy users would be anyone bothered by spam, since once you'd restricted yourself to receiving email from your own country, it would be worth your time and effort reporting spammers to their ISP. (The ISP could then inform their customer that their machine was part of a botnet.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Big Brother

      Not the politicos

      Their 'advisors', aka Sir Humphrey and the Whitehall 'mafia' are driving this, the MI6 thing this week, if you listened closely, also contained some interesting snippits... Same as the predetermined outcome, not what the Cullen enquiry after Dunblane advised, but what was already written and ready to be wheeled out when a 'suitable' atrocity occured, to further disarm the public, knowlege, and access to knowlege, is power!

  6. AlyxUK


    Party on my Wifi in North Korea, we can even access Google on a good day!

  7. Anonymous Coward

    As our collegues on the other side of the world have figured out...

    A knowledge of how Technology works, even in its vaiguest sense is not really required for the minister in charge of Science and Technology, as Mr Stephen Conroy appears to point out on a semi-regular basis.

  8. Thomas 18
    Big Brother

    First page to submit

    The minister responsible for internet regulation's homepage and the projects site. No more regulation please, anyone smart enough to use the internet is smart enough to find the power button if they stumble on something they don't like.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There is a path of redress

    ... the courts.

  10. The Metal Cod

    Talking of infringing privacy

    Mr Vaizey should STFU until those involved with the mass infringement of privacy and breaching of RIPA by BT and Phorm get dragged into court and then sent to the slammer. Then he just might be able to discuss this with the backdrop of doing something right.

    At the moment this smacks of a step towards silencing critics of the government, just the kind of thing the last "government" was so keen on. First comes a version of IMP and now this. Governing for the people my ar5e.

  11. Elmer Phud
    IT Angle

    yeah, right

    ""I'm sure that a lot of internet companies would say that is almost impossible, but... one does at least want to make an attempt to give consumers some opportunity to have a dialogue with internet companies on this issue."


    "We've cut other departments, thrown shedloads of dosh at this one and haven't got a fucking clue what to do. We will set up a team of consultants who will lead us by the nose, piss off just about everyone and get absolutley nowhere after three years but will waste tens of millions."

  12. Anonymous John
    Thumb Down


    Slander Libel & Online Protection.

    All it will take is a button on every web page that you can click on if you feel offended by the contents..

  13. Anonymous Coward

    The potential is great...

    ... for the whole system to be brought down in to the mire. The Internet is full of information which one party would consider inaccurate against another. Religious groups and their various off shoots all consider themselves to be the one true religion and thus could spark off considerable trouble with claims that every other relgious web site holds inaccurate information. There is considerable scope for such a scheme to be over run with claims of inaccuracy which could turn such a service in to a joke if it followed such claims through, or see it as gaining a reputation for censorship and bias if it rejected such claims.

    Such a plan would not, I fear, make much headway or achieve very much of note; just cause more grief which is surely not what this country needs right now.

    1. Elmer Phud

      What about the godless?

      As someone who is likely to fill in 'Pastafarian' as religion on the census form I would welcome the opporunity to complain about other faith groups being wholly and completely innacurate and lying toerags.

      After all, it's MY belief system and it's 100% true as far as I'm concerned. I'd be happy to take them to court to get them to prove otherwise.

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

        All Hail His Noodly Appendages


  14. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Big Brother will helpfully tell you what everybody else thinks

    Presumably a plan to "censor material in response to public complaints" means state / corporate control of (what used to be) free speech via the medium of astro-turfing campaigns.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First up wikileaks.

    "It can't be accurate, there's stuff on there that contradicts what comes out of our mouths."

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Call me a nasty-minded cynic if you will, but I imagine this turning out to be a couple of terabytes of FAQ.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simple enough.

    First we combine our efforts to get the body in question to formally censor 4chan, then we sit back and let the rest happen naturally.

  18. Clarissa

    Meet the new boss

    ... same as the old boss.

  19. Sir Runcible Spoon


    An easier way to deal with illegal content being access from the UK is not to censor it, but stick up a websense like page saying your access has been logged as this site is considered illegal in the country you are viewing it from.

    That way, if it isn't actually illegal you can still get to see it and verify for yourself, or if it is then your IP is logged and your in the shithouse :)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      done and dusted

      in Germany.

      They tried that under the pretext of "think of me kidz" against childporn, and, well, didn't work out well there...

      a simple change to /etc/resolv.conf and chinawall is circumvented

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      While your plan may seem a rational way of permitting both freedom of speech and freedom of access to information, it would enjoin those who knowingly permit said illegal access as accessories to the crime.

      Anyone who would voluntarily log Internet users' activities may do well to take this into account.

      Yours etc.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    People saying things on the internet that might not be true? Well obviously the goverment needs to step in. Not like that can happen on the sidewalk of any public street in the country >.>

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Easy to implement

    Just have a big [DELETE] button on every web page. Right next to the [I'M SCARED] button from CEOP.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Mandate for censorship

    Once the mechanism is in place it is only a short step to deleting/blocking any truths our masters prefer we do not learn. Resist this mechanism for censorship.

    If you do not want to read information that just may be 'inaccurate' subscribe to a service that only allows you to be fed only state controlled propaganda - if you trust your own judgement so little - it will make no difference to you. Your are already a dead-head.

  23. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    [title unavailable]

    So what seditious anti-government pornography was in the sub-title to cause it to have been removed?

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Something contemptuous of a political figure, no doubt

      See: France, laws thereof

  24. Circadian

    Bye bye online banking, shopping...

    With all the known leaks at various times by the various banking and shopping sites, does that mean that they will all have to be blocked?

    To make sure that El Reg gets added to the filtered list (but I think the Met will be first in line to try to kill this site because of this author and Jane Fae Ozimek's articles - keep going those reporters!), may I add that in my belief the Right Honourable Ed Vaizey is either a fscking moron when it comes to the internet, or one of your typical fascist control freaks. Either way, I wish he would ODFO.

  25. Someone Else Silver badge

    Can you imagine...

    ...Sarah Palin with this "tool" available to her and her ilk?!?


  26. Simon....

    Jobs for the boys. Who watches the watchers?

    More jobs for the boys then?

    More meetings about strategy for the strategy about the next meeting that is central to the sub strategy for the meeting sometime ahead.

    Glorious amounts of expense grabbing, massive quotes/payments for nothing, that will overrun on time money bullshit, but not functionality and usefulness, while essential public services dry up and wither.

    Who watches the watchers?

    Let the public watch the internet! Not corporate interests! Get on Internet 2 corporations and us free thinkers struggle on this spam riddled bandwidth choked blue nowhere.


  27. Anonymous Coward


    First the Digital Economy Act, then the resurrection of the Intercept Modernisation Programme, now this. *sigh*

  28. Mike Moyle

    Oh, come on! This could be fun!!

    "...internet users could use the service to ask for material that is "inaccurate" or infringes their privacy to be removed."

    First up for review of accuracy, every politician's website, next every religious site, then every corporate site... The possibility for hilarity seem ENDLESS!

    I wish some politician in the States would propose something this idiotic -- I mean, we're talking hours of fun for the whole family!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but ...

      The Internet has already been doing exactly that since the 1960s [1].


  29. MinionZero
    Big Brother

    So another day & yet another Authoritarian Police State move :(

    With censorship there goes even any attempt to protest against the growing government Police State. This kind of censorship would mean as fast as any political protest group websites build up a group of followers, the state, with this kind of law, will be able to move to censor it. Add in the IMP which ends anonymity, and then the state will know who created the web site and who posts on the web site and exactly what they say on that banned site. At that point they have everything a Police State needs to punish and silence the views of critics.

    "You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. Yet in their hearts there is unspoken - unspeakable! - fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts! Words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home, all the more powerful because they are forbidden. These terrify them. A little mouse - a little tiny mouse! - of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic." - Winston Churchill

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 14:40

    "Once the mechanism is in place it is only a short step to deleting/blocking any truths our masters prefer we do not learn. Resist this mechanism for censorship."

    Now, I may be being a bit naive here, but the way I read it this law (if workable which I doubt) would actually be a good thing for "normal people".

    Currently the fear you state is a reality. Large companies, governments, interesting US based "churches" etc do stifle truth through threatening the ISP with legal action. Most ISPs just cave in in these cases (and reasonably so as it would cost them lots to fight and nothing to comply) so any quicky redress based system would change absolutely nothing.

    On the other hand, as a private citizen your only options for redress at the moment are:

    (1) such it up and hope that those who matter don't care and those that care don't matter. This is a bit of a poor choice - the only benefit is it avoids the Streisland effect.

    (2) Ask the ISP / data holder nicely to change / delete the incorrect or infringing material and rely on their goodwill to comply. However once the material is in the public domain it is there for life so although this option may remove "bad" stuff there is no realistic redress on offer.

    (3) Take action through the courts. This offers a chance to get infringing material changed / removed, apologies issued, future protection against repeated infringements and possible financial redress. But it is very expensive and time consuming - generally beyond the means of al but the wealthier members of our society.

    A solution that mediates between complainer and complainee would be cheaper, quicker, far easier and although any compensation would be likely a lot less than outright suing, offer a better mechanism for whatever degree of redress is necessary (from simply deleting or changing stuff through to apologies and payouts). Ultimately the big business responsible would be going toe-to-toe with the weight of the government rather than little people who can be ignored.

    However, all of this would require that mediation was mandatory (if requested by either party) and backed by serious consequences for those who abuse, game or ignore the situation - whether it is big business refusing to comply or an individual taking the piss.

  31. kevin biswas
    Big Brother


    Everything except .gov sites are banned. Any questions or problems ? Didnt think so. Next !!!!!

  32. Anonymous Coward


    I am heartfelt sick to fucking death of politicians' pathetic, bizarre and brazen social engineering attempts. What do they not GET?

    We all end up paying (fiscally and otherwise) for their incompetent interference in matters over which they should not (and do not) have any purview and which simply does not concern government.

    These lunatics could not regulate the flow of shit in a toilet far less the flow of data over the internet and we should simply not tolerate this type of garbage to even be discussed in a "proper" society. Oh, wait ...

  33. David 45

    Censorship, plain and simple.

    Why is there a "minister responsible for internet regulation anyway? First I've heard of it. Thought the internet was supposed to be free and open? One more step down the slippery slope, if that makes sense!

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Suffer foot-in-mouth much, Ed?

    Apart from clearly well-intentioned but naive, this is painfully misguided; perfect pavement for the road to hell. Let's see...

    There's the censorship issue.

    There's the lack of judicial overview problem ("not a bug, feature!" says Ed).

    There's the inevitable abuse quagmire.

    There's the killing the conduit principle (common carrier 'cross the pond).

    One more and he'd've made ace.

    His "privacy" argument I'd argue to be bunk. Privacy is about not keeping too much information in the first place, and then making sure (you can be trusted that) it doesn't leak. Trust the government to get this one wrong again. Once the information is out there, it's out there, and you can't put it back. See also: Streisand effect.

    Note that even the libel laws aren't about privacy, but about damaging another's reputation. No mention of that here at all.

    The mumbling about technical possibility is quite irrelevant. Even if the system wouldn't be full of holes and probably haphazard at best, once you start losing the conduit principle _everything_ might gain a "need" to be inspected and bowdlerized. You can stir up a veritable deluge of demands for filtering that way. Every moral grauniad and their pet peeve will want something to be filtered. One could argue that ISPs using the IWF to censor their customers' data already breach the conduit principle, so this extension on that is no surprise. I hope and suspect it might happen that someday soon-ish someone will challenge the filtering on that basis, though currently most judges will be too morally panicked to DTRT. But anyway.

    Who thought this loon would make a good minister anyway?

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Did in think this one up himself though?

    Or has he had one of those oh-so-helpful briefing papers (small words, short sentences) from one of those Whitehall mandarins within his department (The upper echelons of the British Civil Service being well known for the large number Science grads and their deep grasp of the internet)?

    But perhaps I should spare the clever witticisms and express myself as that well known pundit Royston Vaizey might put it.



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