back to article Internet censorship and mission creep

"The internet perceives censorship as damage," John Gilmore famously observed, "and routes around it." That might have been right in the early 1990s. In 2008, the state of internet freedom is looking a little rockier. Karen Karlekar, presenting Freedom House's survey of the state of internet freedom at the Computers, Freedom, …


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  1. Steven Hewittt


    Schools are places of education - not an arm of the police. (Although I have known a few which thought otherwise...)

    Schools at best should be informing the parents and/or police if the child tells a teacher. If not, as harsh as it seems, it's nothing to do with the school. The same as if pupil A had a scrap with pupil B over the summer holidays. Outside of school premises and outside of school time.

    The internet doesn't need to be censored. For a start it's nearly impossible to implement. And why should it be? Who is to say what I can and can't watch? Blanket censorship just doesn't work - it's a way to look like something is being done whilst leaving the root cause alone. Don't try to ban websites as their content maybe illegal. Turn up on the doorstep of the host and do some real police work for a fucking change.

  2. Jamie
    Thumb Down

    Sledge to crack a nut

    Why do these self-rightous groups always try to use an extreme approach to resolve something.

  3. Steve

    Statistics abuse

    "Englander's surveys of 18-year-olds show that half have been cyberbullied – and 22 percent admit to having done it. A UK study shows that kids only tell their parents six percent of the time."

    Oh noes how terrible! Half our kids are being bullied by robots and their luch money gets stolen by WiFi. Or something...

    The reality is that 50% experience some form of bullying (define your lower limit), but only around 3% of kids are bullied badly enough to tell their parents. A smaller minority will be in serious psychological trauma from bullying but won't tell anyone.

    Essentially, kids are behaving on-line in the exact same way as they do off-line with exactly the same effects. You'd probably find similar numbers if you looked into "bullying" in the workplace.

    On the other hand, if it's "cyber"....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why can't parents take responsibility for their own children's safety online...

    ...instead of expecting someone else to do it?

    Ban children from the net.

    Give them their own version of the internet just for children, with no nasty violence or porn, and moderated - but for Fuck's Sake PLEASE leave the 'adult' net alone and stop expecting it to be a surrogate parent for today's youth.

  5. Ted Treen

    Freedom - a vanishing commodity

    I've never visited a porn site, a contact site, a "social networking" site or even an anarchist/revolutionary site. None of the preceding interest me (well, maybe the last one, just a bit).

    I do however regard as totally abhorrent and unnaceptable the idea of some self-appointed "worthies" telling me what I can & what I can't access.

    Thanks to the British electorate being dumb enough to return NuLab to power since 1997, we have lost more freedoms in that 10 years than have been lost in the preceding 100 years and a freedom lost, even if temporarily, is NEVER regained.

    These to$$pots need a reminder that WE are THEIR masters; they work FOR US.

    It is NOT the other way round, and we are entitled to remove them by the ballot box or by other means if necessary!

    Enough is enough.

  6. Chris Cheale

    common misconception


    These to$$pots need a reminder that WE are THEIR masters; they work FOR US.


    The problem is that people still believe that. We have two (serious) contenders for political parties - one just left of centre and the other just right of centre. Neither dare go out on a limb about anything lest it costs them votes.

    The only way to choose who to vote for is simply your colour preference; red or blue - or flip a coin. The policies are all but identical with minor variations to "score points" in the game of party politics.

    The only ways to effect a change are either to stop voting in the hope that it'll bring about a hung parliament and a collapse of the current system... or a military coup, but we're just too British for that.

    So we'll just keep bending over, keep getting fucked up the arse and keep whinging about it - nothing will change except the surveillance creep from the real world, to the internet, to your very thoughts - technology permitting. Freedom is an illusion.

  7. John Savard

    Why Parents Can't Keep Their Children Safe Online

    Because the constabulary would take a dim view of it if they located the cyberbullies attacking their kids, and even beat them up.

    If, for example, a violent ex-spouse who tampered with his ex-wife's or estranged wife's computer, and intercepted her communications with her lawyer... was taken out and shot, we would see less of this nonsense.

    Harsh punishments for the criminals who attack others, NOT the victims having to limit their use of the Internet, or spend money on fancy software, is the right answer, because it puts the costs in the right place

  8. Kevin Kitts
    Dead Vulture


    If they can't remove all of the stupid advertisements (which I never look at), then leave the entire Internet alone. I remember the days before America Online let everyone on the Internet and ruined it (the ads followed shortly thereafter, when the ad agencies realized there was a dollar to be made). I'd love to have an internet where there were no ads at all and only adults could log on. THAT would be cool. Besides, you might be able to stamp out bomb-making websites, but you will NEVER stamp out porn. Ever.

  9. Nexox Enigma


    How hard can it be to monitor your children on the computer? Since when is the Internet a place for children? I was never allowed on the 'Internet' (It wasn't really the same thing back then) unsupervised until I was 14 or so. And to get that I had to buy a computer, fix it, then run some CAT5 through my attic, so I feel like I deserved it.

    Bullying and childhood have always gone together, and probably always will. Is it any surprise that the feeling of anonymity that comes from the Internet makes it worse?

    Then again, being bullied taught me some valuable lessons about people, their opinions, and how often neither really matter much.

  10. Graham Marsden


    > "Why do these self-rightous groups always try to use an extreme approach to resolve something."

    Because they can always use an extreme case to get people agreeing that "something must be done" and then parlay that into a ban on porn/ free speech/ political dissent/ whatever without most people even realising until it is *way* too late and that right has already been lost.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    like using an egg cup to remove water from a sinking ship

    ^ What are you talking about? We need ads to keep the internet free. What's the big deal anyway? It's a small price to pay. It doesn't bother me as long as they are normal ads. (Not ones that are blaring and flashing and have the X button hidden somewhere.)

    I agree to banning all kids from the internet. Put the burden on the families.

    There's no need for them to be on it. I guess it's like anything else that's restricted to adults. Drinking, sex, driving... yeah it can be fun but by god there are downfalls. You need to be prepared for all that's involved, not just the good parts, so you set an age limit. Whether the young 'uns think they can handle it or not..not important.

    Banning kids would probably solve about 80% of the problems to do with the internet and stop most of the hysterical news stories general ruining of adults fun..

  12. Rolf Howarth


    Were we reading the same article? I see a whole bunch of replies ranting against censorship, but as far as I could tell the CFP weren't arguing for censorship, rather the opposite. But however you look at it, there is a problem. Don't go into denial just because you can't see an easy solution. Bullying DOES exist, and kids WILL get on the Internet, whether to do their homework, read about the latest Indiana Jones movie, play online games, or visit their friends' FaceBook page. They are givens. The question is what, if anything, can or should one do about it.

  13. Byron Langslow

    oh HtFU

    "Englander's surveys of 18-year-olds show that half have been cyberbullied – and 22 percent admit to having done it. A UK study shows that kids only tell their parents six percent of the time."

    I was bullied in school. boo hoo. Harden the FcUK up. Oh, so someone photoshopped my head onto a dog/pig/goat/ugly persons body/naomi cambell. someone sent me a harrassing sms/IM/email/digital communication

    DELETE IT AND GET THE FCUK OVER IT!!!! you bunch of pussies! Sheesh. The delete key exists for a reason.

    oh, and I agree, these people are your servants, not your masters. You elected them. You are their bosses. Tell them what you want and if they dont listen, vote with your feet.

  14. Joe M

    @Chris Cheale

    "We have two (serious) contenders for political parties."

    Who are "We" Chris? It may come as a surprise but the World is actually a little bit bigger than just the good old US of A. Try to remember that when you post next time.

    Have Fun meanwhile!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    @Joe M

    Re Chris Cheale; I think he means the Tories or NuLabour.

    Let's face it, the only time the Lib Dems actually vote on an issue something is when they want to get publicity for Doing something Good, most of the time they just abstain as a "protest" - which also handily lets them out of actually having to be responsble for anything.

    Most of the "independants" who stand will have ONE issue they feel strongly about, and no sodding clue about anything else (so you want to be independant from Europe, or want to make on-street parking free again - but what do you think about the hospitals and post offices closing?). Even most so-called Green candidates will vote for whatever seems to be the most environmentally-friendly policy (go back to 'corner-shop' economics and ban all the out-of-town supermarkets with their huge car parks, ban all cars and get everyone on either public transport or pushbikes, etc) regardless of practicality.

    In the end, the only real "choice" is between Red or Blue. And it's looking increasingly like the current lot think they can rescue the economy by making everyone in England either criminals or bankrupt and homeless - or both. (Can't help noticing that many of NuLabour's laws and policies don't get applied to the Prime Minister's homeland... hmm)

    Can the last one out please turn off the lights.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Perhaps... is time to move to Scotland to escape the superfluous new laws and legislation being introduced in England.

  17. Chris Rimmer

    Re: common misconception

    "The only ways to effect a change are either to stop voting in the hope that it'll bring about a hung parliament and a collapse of the current system... or a military coup, but we're just too British for that."

    How about taking back control one small piece at a time? Find out about who's standing for election, and volunteer to campaign for the one who you most agree with. Or stand yourself, and get a few friends to go around to everyone's house to explain what you believe the options are, and why you believe your compromises are better than those of the alternatives. Talk to your friends and neighbours about politics, philosophy, history and economics so you can learn from each other, and you will all be in a better position to evaluate the policies of those seeking to represent you. As more people come to understand politics better, the politicians will need to take their views into account more because attempts to fob them off with spin will backfire.

    Self-reliance and education - a very (traditional) British approach. :-)

    Apathy and ignorance among the majority of the population (which seem to be actively encouraged by the mainstream media) are what allow those in political power to ignore their constituents and concentrate on serving those who fund them (including, no doubt coincidentally, the mainstream media). You don't have to assume that politicians are inherently bad people for this to be true - it makes their lives much harder if they have to take into account the informed views of their constituents.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "A cartoon of a child being raped by one or more adults is not."

    What about a cartoon of a 17 year old having sex?

    "Very few of the posters here appear to actually know what they are talking about, there is much talk of Manga, Hentai, and of comics. None of this is what this is designed to combat,"

    So you have knowledge of a law that hasn't even been passed, and know how it will be enforced? References, please.

    -snip ad-hominems-

    "ultimately the welfare of children is at stake"

    No, cartoons are not children.

    "The Police officers and staff who enforce these laws should be revered for what they have to endure"

    Of course they should be, for enforcing the current laws on child porn. You are the one who wants to waste their time to spend it on going after drawings, thus diverting resources away from going after child abusers. I fully agree, their work should "not be despised to satisfy some intellectual, but morally repugnant, view point" - but that's exactly what you are trying to do.

    "Paris, because she has as much grasp on reality as 99.9% of posters in this thread."

    Says the one who can't tell fiction from reality...

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