back to article international net clean-up plan gathers dust

Months after announcing his intention to work with the Obama administration to develop new restrictions on "unacceptable" material online, Culture Secretary Andy Burnham is still waiting for anyone in Washington to listen to him. At the end of December, Burnham took to the airwaves and newspaper pages to decry "content that …


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  1. John Smith Gold badge


    " Burnham insisted he was not aiming to impose a new international censorship scheme online."

    You can't be sure it's Government policy until its been officially denied.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well until I get smashed over the head with a metal bar by a random gang of people I will still wager the internet is about 1,000,000 times safer then walking around the streets (and yes I have been jumped and hit over the head with a metal bar, didn't feel like much at the time but the lump after was massive, fortunatly it was a smooth cylindrical metal thing - so not really a bar, more a bit of piping?)

    And despite that I still feel pretty darn safe walking around the streets, not becouse I think that the police are doing a great job but becouse most other people are too busy getting on with their own shit to worry about me.

    And back to the point, real world is till many thousands of times more dangerous then the internet.

  3. Ian


    He just doesn't get it does he?

    No one in the US cares, because no one in the US is as stupid as him.

    Similarly, it was made as a place where governments can't reach, and so governments can't reach it Mr Burnham, so give up, and, well, fuck off!

    You could legislate and ban the whole internet but people will still find ways access it via satellite or so.

  4. adam burns
    Dead Vulture

    A place the government can't reach?

    So Andy Burnham thinks it is dangerous that the "internet is created as a place the government can't reach"

    Yes it can. Andy Burnham has a website. His party has a website. His government has a website and he is free to post any opinion on any subject he likes.

    What the government can't stand is that the internet is not sculpted around their own sensitivities and that the 'serfs' are free to criticise them.

    Andy Burnham should stop trying to emulate Chinese rule and concentrate on resigning over defrauding the taxpayer.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I just can't wait for...

    This out of date generation to die out already.

    They weren't brought up on computers and they tend to be clueless about them.

    As soon as the children (ARE OUR FUTURE!!111one) get into power we should start seeing a lot more freedom..

    Some of the people running this country still come from a time where you could call a black man a wog and that was seen as acceptable.

    This deep routed misunderstanding of the world as we know it now doesn't help anyone.

  6. Bayleaf
    Thumb Down

    The Internet

    So if it was created as something Governments can't reach, how is he proposing to police it? Yet another minister who wants to control the un-controllable, and the US Administration probably know this. Or maybe they just have more things to worry about right now, like the economy.

  7. Martin Silver badge

    @No one in the US cares, because no one in the US is as stupid as him.

    His timing was just bit off, If the US (also) had a right wing authoritarian government that had run out of ideas, was facing defeat and needed a quick 'wont someone thing of the children' policy they would have leapt at it.

    Wouldn't have worked - but at least someone would have answered the phone.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    @ac I just can't wait...

    ...sorry but the children are not the furture. Most of them are brain washed driods that have all sense of spirit removed from them.

    They think id cards are a good idea.

    They all want to become lawyers or work in "media"

    They want to hug trees and grow windfarms

    Let's face kids today idea of rebelling is hanging around on a street corner, all looking like same.

    Hell even the music is recycled mass produced pap. The idea of a student protest is sitting around complaining that the latte machine is to expensive.

    Rebel kids, get some f**king spirit. This country needs you!

    A smiley face as it bring back memories of the illegal* raves of the 90's

    *only made illegal once they become popular and the goverment realised people enjoying themselves was immoral.

  9. Mark McC

    He's confusing reach with control

    The Internet was not designed as a place the government couldn't reach. .gov was one of the first TLDs created, and one only needs to cringe at Gordon Brown's Youtube broadcasts to see that the government reaches all parts of the Internet.

    What he really means is control; even then the government already has all the control it needs. If I commit an Internet-related crime, whether hacking, fraud or distribution of illegal material, the government has the legislation in place to prosecute me.

    But if this Labour government's past history is anything to go by, his idea of control extends beyond prosecuting people engaged in criminal activity and into the realms of government as self-appointed moral guardians of what is acceptable for ordinary folks to see/hear/think while online.

    I'll be interested to see if Obama does appoint a US counterpart. After all, his was the campaign that spent millions fostering the support of online activist communities who were sick and tired of the previous administration. Would such a campaign be as successful if the incumbent government had control over what content made it onto the Internet?

  10. Pete Silver badge

    language barrier

    So this guy's "working with" the 'merkins and expects someone there to listen to him.

    I feel he has misunderstood what the yanks mean when they say "working with". To the US adminstration this phrase generally means "doing what we tell you to", rather than implying a partnership - as in the rest of the world. If this politician expects someone from Washington to "invite" (summon) him to a "meeting" (distribution of pre-decided tasks) to "listen" (so long as he says 'yes sir - how high?') to his "opinions" (the list faxed over from the US embassy) then he'll have a long wait.Better he should just spend his time working out how he can fiddle even more from his expenses for the trip.

  11. Paul
    Thumb Down

    kite-flying is right

    Anyone with any sense and certainly anyone in politics knows how jealously the Yanks quite rightly guard their first-amendment rights, and thus just how far (ie. nowhere) they'd go to censor the net on our behalf. So yes, this is utter grandstanding, time-wasting, only.

    And the net was hardly created to avoid governmental authority, but to help scientists, at first, to communicate - its freedoms were a bi-product.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    hey Burnham!

    Get the fuck off my intertubes!

    That will be all.

  13. Adam Salisbury
    Thumb Down

    A place Gov can't reach?

    This does well to highlight the lack of any technical competence or even understading, for an MP to say that "the internet is created as a place the government can't reach" is indicitive of this. The web was never created to be a place gov can't reach, that's merely his, or their perception of what the internet is.

    It harrowing to see supposedly democratic nations pushing for totalatariaism so feverently; that said I suppsoe some connsolation should be taken from the fact the public still has enough of a voice to scare them like that!!!!

  14. Tony Paulazzo

    42 (is a bleeding title)

    >the internet was "quite a dangerous place" and that it had been created "as a place that governments couldn't reach<

    I thought it had been co-created by universities and the military (ie, a branch of the government). The only danger (I can see), is that information and knowledge (as opposed to propaganda) can now be attained by all.

    Yea, some of that information is dirty and weird and downright wrong, but that's human nature, who would want to deny that?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So presumably he'll resign?

    Well, either he's right but ineffective, in which case he should do the honorable thing and resign.

    Or he's wrong and incompetent, in which case he should do the honorable thing and resign.

    Either way the insufferable nanny should stop trying to impose his views on people who didn't elect him and he doesn't represent and resign.

    I'm sick of NuLabour using 'we' as though they speak for Britain, the vast majority want them to resign, so they represent a tiny extreme minority, they should resign and face the vote.

  16. DutchOven
    Thumb Down

    Oh really?

    Did he really say it had been created "as a place that governments couldn't reach."

    ...and who created it? Wasn't it the US government? Does he know anything about the internet?

    I suspect that what he really objects to is free speech. This is Nu-Stazi, sorry Nu-Labour after all. They think they've got a right to monitor and control everything.

    I can only echo the sentiment above - the sooner this lot of computer illiterates die off, the better.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    think of the children

    is actually a pretty sureal rallying call for our government (and maybe society) if you look at the ghastly state of our state childcare, it's bad enough that children in care are rarely taught key life skills and arn't given the support they need (although it is slowly slowly improving - no thanks to government but due to the dedicated effort of those in the system.)

    We're talking about 300,000 odd children who a large percentage shall sadly end up in the prision system, well below the poverty line, addicted to drugs, etc, during their later life thanks to the incomprehsible failure of a system that is well within the remit of the authorities and society as a whole to improve. But not only do they not have the life skills, financial backing, or family support to get them through early adulthood they are thrown out of care homes once they reach 16.

    I gotta say, our government and for a large part our society as a whole has no place claiming that they are "thinking of the children" when they are willing to throw so many into the bin becouse dealing with the problem is a bit difficult.

    say 150,000 children failed by the system every year vs how many who are harmed via child predators and other (and much talked about) threats?

    That's not including the tens of thousands of children being looked after by relatives and family friend saving the government billions of pounds every year with no more support then the doll becouse they arn't official adoptive parents.

    Our society is pretty sick, and so are idiots like this Burnham, trying to gain political credit whlst doing no good.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hey anonymous

    I just can't wait for...

    By Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 14th May 2009 13:58 GMT

    This out of date generation to die out already.

    watch it sunshine, I'm a Grandad and the one who sent the emails to Baroness Miller about the home office and Phorm. So let's have less of your lip.

    PS Burnham is a tit.

  19. Harold

    "as a place that governments couldn't reach."

    Too right. I don't want any government intervention on my interwebs, tyvm

    'the internet is dangerous' is a massive load of guff. Maybe if you don't know how to use it properly (and the government clearly don't) then it's dangerous but if you take the time to learn yourself some common sense before going online you'll be fine.

    At the end of the day it's just a tool that allows people to better accomplish their goals.

    So bad people have bad goals, what's new? Let's not shut down the internet because of a few bad apples, people.

  20. MinionZero

    Great, yet another example of a self righteous Narcissistic.

    Internet created "as a place that governments couldn't reach." ... In other words the Internet allows free speech and he doesn't like it. He *wants control* over everything people say and do online because he *fears* what *stupid* criminals use the internet to do.

    *stupid* - as only criminals who were total fools would broadcast to the entire world what they were doing! ... There will always be some fools who are caught like this, but that isn't going to catch the worst criminals who avoid electronic forms of communications. They are called organised crime for a reason!.

    *Fear* - as its one of the two central driving forces behind the elite in power.

    *wants control* - as its the other central driving force behind the elite in power.

    Fears and Desires, in this case the desire to be in control and the fear of not being in control. The Internet was created as a means to share information and he doesn't like it unless he is in control of it. Well no one can be trusted with the power to silence the Internet, least of all MPs and their kind. The current fraudulent expenses have proven once again MPs cannot be trusted to misuse powers they have available for their own gain. As soon as they can monitor, censor and control Internet content, they will try to monitor and control political views being posted. Such behaviour is inherent in their relentless desire to be in power over others and they spend years, even decades of their lives learning how to gain political power over others. The power to control and manipulate the lives of the people they have power over. Its central to core underlying psychology of their behaviour, as it has been throughout history. (Of course they would never directly admit it, they would always misdirect attention from their core desire of wanting to be in control. They always word it if as they want to help. Yes sure they want to help, now ever try to tell a Narcissistic they are wrong or doing something the wrong way. They simply don't want to listen. They wrongly assume everyone who disagrees with them is wrong and so they ignore them).

    For any society to function fairly then laws are needed to prevent people abusing others, when their own internal empathy and so morality is so lacking. Not all control is wrong, its only wrong when that control is hijacked by the minority of narcissistic people as a tool to use to abuse people even more for their own gain. (e.g. like MPs and Narcissistic companies like Phorm).

    Society needs ways to really seriously punish all Narcissistic behaviour, to finally stop it happening and to finally provide real protection for everyone, which is exactly what laws are suppose to do. But unfortunately the laws are so often hijacked, watered down and manipulated by the very people laws are suppose to protect society from. (Which is no surprise because narcissistic behaviour provides a competitive advantage in very competitive environments like politics and business. So the most narcissistic tend to fight to the top, to become the ones in power who make the laws and rules. They would never see their own behaviours as so wrong and so laws always fail to stop people like them. Exactly like the morally corrupt bunch in power in Government now, making their own rules about what expenses they can fraudulently steal from tax payers).

    Yet they want us to trust them and people like them with even more power over everyone else's lives. No one in their right mind would trust such morally corrupt, self serving, money grabbing, self righteous minority of elite minded control freaks. Their behaviour has been shown throughout history how once they gain ever more powers over other people, they end up make everyone's lives worse, not better, as they seek to make their own lives better at the expense of others. Exactly what we see in the news now with the fraudulent expenses used to steal from tax payers.

    They are voted in by us, work for us and we pay their wages. Its time to force them to see they work for us and they are very much the minority. When the majority of people stand together every government has to listen. This corruption has gone on long enough. Time to change. We need Big Brother to police them and they need to be far more open to us to stop them being so corrupt with our money.

  21. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    So this chap thinks

    the internet is "quite a dangerous place".

    I put it to the honorable gentleman that the internet is not, in fact, a 'place' at all.

    For examples of quite dangerous places, I refer him to pretty much any UK city centre on a Friday/Saturday night, despite all the magic crime reducing CCTV cameras.


  22. dave lawless

    US govt? nah a collaboration between ...

    You think "the internet" appeared in the UK in 1995 ? Joined up networks were around the world before then. Some of us remember Janet and Fido before Tcp/IP came along.

    Censor the net and the private networks will rise again, never forget.

  23. Matt

    @AC, 'think of the children'

    AC: "We're talking about 300,000 odd children"

    My, that is a lot of odd children. Sorry, couldn't resist.

    Now, let's see ... ...

    > Voted strongly for introducing ID cards

    > Voted very strongly for Labour's anti-terrorism laws

    > Voted very strongly for the Iraq war</li>

    > Voted very strongly against an investigation into the Iraq war

    Salary: £141,866

    Total expenses claimed, 2007-2008: £127,804

    Other info: Made a single expenses claim for more than £16,500 to help buy and renovate a new flat. Claimed his wife might divorce him if it was not paid promptly.

    Yes, as expected, the bloke is a prize tit.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    @"I just can't wait"

    "This deep routed misunderstanding of the world as we know it now doesn't help anyone." You know you're part of the Internet generation when things are "deep routed".

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Whom would he give control to?

    "Burnham... said the internet was "quite a dangerous place" and that it had been created "as a place that governments couldn't reach."

    "We are having to revisit that stuff seriously now," he added.

    So which governments would he like to see controlling it? If our politicians were stupidly to concede that it's OK for governments to control the internet, they could hardly complain when a foreign government - or a future British or American government - they didn't agree with, did exactly that, could they? And if they had already given them the power to do it, what then?

    Don't propose powers for yourself that you wouldn't want your opponents to wield when they take your place.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Spotty little fucks like this need to keep their noses out of things like the internet, which he obviously has little to no understanding of. I hope that no one in the government here gives him even the time of day.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I Think Andy Burnham Has More Important Things to Worry About

    Like his and all his fellow MPs' jobs.

  28. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    The simple way to deal with objectionable content

    Just ignore it. Labour have demonstrated that the can ignore, so why can't they ignore everything else they object to.

  29. John Smith Gold badge


    If only.

  30. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Rogue Champion Knights *

    "Nevertheless, he said the internet was "quite a dangerous place" and that it had been created "as a place that governments couldn't reach."

    "We are having to revisit that stuff seriously now," he added."

    Andy, Heed your own counsel and if acting for a particular government, save yourself the effort and public money. The internet will advise governments is the new way of working things out.

    Would the the Department for Culture, Media and Sport care to respond to that comment to further the debate and Virtualise the Reality ... or is it heads cowering behind the battlements, Petrified in Inaction with a Lack Of Direction?

    It is a Busy Space, Mr Burnham, in which it is All Too Easy to get Totally Wasted and Wiped Out of the Great Games with Selfish Destructive Defensive Moves rather than Bold Imaginative Constructive Plays .


  31. Dave

    Onto a loser

    I can't quite see the US managing to ban much, given their First Amendment. Even if their government did try it on, hopefully it would get thrown out by the courts. Perhaps we need one over here now that the government is demonstrating excessive cluelessness regarding the internet.

  32. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    "a place that governments couldn't reach."

    Doesn't stop them trying to get their grubby fingers on it however as they try to stop us looking at "Dangerous Pictures'

  33. Anonymous Coward


    This is not a joke (okay, yes it is) but it's not because we're paying this fuckwit to be a fuckwit. Do we allow him expenses too? Why do we pay so many fuckwits to be fuckwits. Why can't they do that on their own time?

    How about El Reg creating a sister site where we can all post our observations about the morons (ahem) "in charge" being, well, morons when it comes to IT.

    This could truly aid democracy by showing them what not to do and what not to think about (just as they like to do with us). We could not only save a packet, we could get to keep our world as our world and not have it transmogrified into some nanny nation control freak sleazeball dystopia that they think (is that an appropriate word here?) we should have.

    Smiley, cos, yes a part of me is still raving in the 80s, smokin in the 70s and tripping in the 60s. Not telling what I'm doing now. LOL

  34. Moss Icely Spaceport
    Black Helicopters

    Before the Interwebs..

    Governments have always wanted to control what WE think, what WE do and how WE live.

    The interwebs just gives them a nice easy tool, great for overbearing and lazy governance.

    Politicians: Burnham all!

  35. Frank

    @Eq re. @"I just can't wait"

    "You know you're part of the Internet generation when things are "deep routed". "

    Yup, he should of used a dickshunry to check the meening of words. Even I new that won.

  36. John Smith Gold badge

    The worst kind of authoritarian.

    Is the kind who believes they are doing for *our* own good.

    They can't be honest and admit "We love power and controlling others, right down to what they are thinking."

    In their minds the only people who could oppose their good intentions are those with criminal intent, or who misunderstand that their intentions.

    Sound like a certain behavioural advertising companies CEO?

    When such people die violently* they have one word on their lips


    *Not that I advocate violence against such people. That would no doubt be spun as a justification for more control and surveillance. Being ignored by powerful, well informed people is a start.

  37. Jimmy

    Burnham? Burn them all.

    "Nevertheless, he said the internet was "quite a dangerous place" and that it had been created "as a place that governments couldn't reach."

    Thanks to his government's cavalier attitude to data security we now all have access to a place that was previously inaccessible to us. That place is the parliamentary cesspit where Burnham and his free loading political peers were arse-up and snout-down, feeding in the public trough while at the same time waiving through legislation that removed all restraints from businesses and financial institutions, thus precipitating the greatest economic crisis for a hundred years.

    However, our political masters did manage to take enough time out from their feeding frenzy to create one new criminal offence for every day they have been in office. Naturally, none of these new statutes were directed at regulating their buddies in corporate Britain.

    Instead they have been used to assemble the largest and most intrusive surveillance apparatus ever created, with the intention of profiling and spying on the private communications of ordinary citizens who are all now all designated as potential criminals/terrorists.

    Burnham may have been preoccupied with other matters but surely it hasn't escaped his attention that there has been a political revolution in America. The good guys are running the show over there now and they can spot a political shyster like Burnham from a mile away. So, just stay home, Andy, and concentrate on your exit strategy. You know, things like lining up lucrative directorships and writing your memoirs.

  38. Richard Porter

    "Cinema-style age ratings for English language websites"

    Er, since when has '"unacceptable" material online' been language-dependent?

  39. John Smith Gold badge

    @Richard Porter

    "Er, since when has '"unacceptable" material online' been language-dependent?"

    Since Spain released South Park, the Movie, as open to children. It's a cartoon.* Cartoons are for children, yes?

    Told to me by a Spanish co-worker.

  40. Steve Brooks

    Krudd and Conjob FTW

    "Spotty little fucks like this need to keep their noses out of things like the internet," unfortunately us in the good ol US....oops sorry, Australia, it gets hard to tell the differemce sometimes, actually voted a spotty little fuck just like him into supreme power and now he's keen to censor us all whether we like it or not, so just learn from our plight, blighties, get rid of him by any means necessary as the saying goes!

    Steve from AU

  41. SteveMD


    governments, especially left-wing governments, who I have a tendency to support in most other things, are utterly terrified that there may be an area of life that they cannot regulate. Much as I sympathise with left-wing social attitudes, the need to control what others do has always been a nasty aspect of socialist thinking. It has long since passed the stage where I can continue to support this government and, even if the dreaded Torys get in, we must remove Labour, at the earliest opportunity, before they assign a civil servant to look over the shoulders of each and every one of us.

    It really is getting very worrying. The moment the HRA was signed, Labour then started trying to undermine it, bringing in laws based on ideology rather than evidence or worse on the back of a tabloid bandwagon. I am truly appalled at how much they now interfere, even in our private lives. Burnham is just another facist controller who wants to be the arbiter of what you or I can look at, read or listen to online and in the privacy of our own homes. It is about time they were shown that they are here to serve us, not 'lead' us. We are the masters and they have forgotten that.

  42. John Smith Gold badge
    Thumb Up


    You might like to look up a classic lecture by Isah Berlin on the subject of "Negative & Positive Freedom."

    As I have followed British politics I am weary of all sides. It seems to me that the divide is between the authoritarians, who do not trust the electorate, and democrats who more or less believe in the idea of personal freedom. Labour appears to have quite a lot of authoritarians in its Ministerial ranks. This seems to be the true legacy of Tony Blair.

    Multiply that by the level of IT ineptitude (conficker infection still going on I believe) and large IT contractors promising whatever the Minister desires to get their snout well into the trough and you have a very nasty mess brewing.

    My usual guide is to vote tactially. If you don't liek the current MP, find out who was runner up and vote for them. This seems to be the only way MP's get the idea.

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