“Thinking of the children”

The satirical cry popularised in The Simpsons “Will nobody think of the children?!” was usually wailed by a character who hadn’t a clue what children were being protected from.

Similarly, government plans for filtering Internet access have nothing to do with protecting children.

Let’s be clear about this – the Internet itself can’t be censored, you can only block some access to some parts.  But, like a paedophile lurking in the dark, those parts are still out there, only you can’t see what they’re doing any longer.

And this, I suspect, is what parts of the government really want: the ability to black out those parts it doesn’t like.  Awkward sites like Wikileaks that embarrass people in power; campaigning groups like Avaaz or Change.org who fight against injustice; social sites like Facebook or Twitter that allow people to swap ideas; trade unions, environmental groups…

Does that sound unlikely?  Surely, they’d never block Facebook…?

ORG - Open Rights GroupYou’re probably right.  But this legislation forces Internet providers to install the means to “filter” (“block”) sites.

Today, the only people blocking access to websites is us.

But if this legislation becomes law then we lose that right.  We become the same as China (except that the Chinese people didn’t have a choice).

And the reality is that Internet filters won’t protect the children: they’re not a magic wand banishing all adult content.  What they will do is stop people finding useful advice on sexual health, sexuality and relationships and give parents a false sense of security.

YOU should decide what you can view on the Internet, not the government; if you agree then the time to speak up is now – before it’s too late.

There’s a fast-growing petition at ORG, the Open Rights Group, telling David Cameron To Stop Sleepwalking the UK into Censorship.  Sign it.

And if you’re really rattled by all this talk of Internet censorship then you can join ORG, like I did.

Because no-one’s going to thank you for censoring their Internet access.


  1. Problem is Stu there are many large organisations working with children campaigning for this, purely in relation to the issue of protecting children. The wider issues are seen as scare mongering or a price worth paying. There are some very well made arguments from these organisations. One of whom I worked for and greatly respect. It is an age old debate of censorship to protect v. freedom of information and I do not yet know where I stand on this one.

    • But protecting my children against finding objectionable porn on the Internet is *my* responsibility, and doesn’t require blocking anything remotely likely to cause offence across the whole country.

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