The NYT's "Room for Debate" section asked a variety of people for positions on the UK's Great Firewall of Cameron -- a new rule whereby ISPs must slap an "adult content" filter on every Internet connection in the land, which is meant to stop everything from porn to gambling sites to "esoteric material" (whatever that is). I wrote one of the pieces, as did many others.
The companies that supply networked censorware turn a profit selling to dictatorships, like the United Arab Emirates, where network filters from American companies were used to suppress footage of a member of the royal family torturing a man and then running him over with a luxury car (the software also handily compiled a list of everyone who was trying to look at that video, which must have been useful for the secret police, whose boss was, coincidentally, the royal torturer caught in the video).
The companies repackage this software for use by Fortune 100 companies, libraries and schools, which must censor according to the terms of the Communications Decency Act – and now, for use by all of Britain's Internet service providers. In practice, the British law means shipping the nation's Internet traffic offshore for processing and surveillance by criminal regimes and their allies.
No one seriously pretends that this will stop kids who want to look at porn from finding it. But a regime of total, national surveillance in the name of protecting children serves an important political purpose. It satisfies the security syllogism: “Something must be done! I have done something. There now, something has been done.”
Can Free Speech and Internet Filters Co-Exist?
Facebook — which accounts for as much as 75% of the traffic to popular websites — tweaked its algorithm to downrank those same publishers, who had been engaged in an arms-race to dominate Facebook users’ feeds through techniques intended to gain high rank in Facebook’s secret scoring system.
The Ecuadoran Embassy in London has confirmed Wikileaks’ accusation that it terminated Julian Assange’s access to its wifi network because it disapproved of Assange and Wikileaks’ “intervention in the affairs of other states” by publishing material pertaining to the impending US election.
The UK government says it wants to stop people under 18 from looking at pornography, and so it’s going to make all the porn sites operating in Britain collect some kind of age-verification in order to make this happen, on pain of being blocked by the UK’s Great Firewall.
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