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Internet Censorship

Following a similar discussion on Radio 4 this morning, a purely hypothetical question, ignoring the issue of how you'd implement such a scheme.

Poll #726641 Internet Censorship

Should ISPs Censor Internet Content


Although some of the content on the internet is of questionable moral value, I think the main power of the internet is that it's an open platform. Where would you draw the line if you started censoring it?

It provides a platform for minority viewpoints, which in general has to be a good thing, even if some of those views lead to bad consequences. They still need to be voiced somewhere.

Have finally added thought to the last poll too now.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
11th May, 2006 09:42 (UTC)
Where would you draw the line if you started censoring it?

Censor illegal content?
11th May, 2006 10:55 (UTC)
Problem is, "illegal content" in China, for example, includes almost everything relating to the mere existence of democracy. Or Tiananmen Square.

I certainly think any pronography involving under-18s or non-consensual acts should be censored, but even then it becomes tricky - how can you be sure that somebody's under 18, how do you know that a consensual-looking act isn't non-consensual behind the scenes, etc.?
11th May, 2006 11:00 (UTC)
They are somewhat stricter about this in the states, requiring comcerial (ie: legal) porn to have a license, which is subject to scrutiny (also helps track STDs in the porn industry). I'm not sure what they have here.
11th May, 2006 13:11 (UTC)
I'm not aware of anything governing the making of porn here.

I was mainly talking about porn accessible over the internet rather than accessible on British servers - most of it isn't made in the UK, so laws about who can be in porn movies here wouldn't help. (Though I think they'd be good in general.)
11th May, 2006 11:50 (UTC)
I don't think it should be censored by ISPs because:

a) It can't be done
b) It would be very expensive
c) Knowing what to censor would be very hard
d) Governments would use this as an excuse to invade civil liberties further
11th May, 2006 20:16 (UTC)
I think (c) and (d) sum up my views quite nicely.
11th May, 2006 12:36 (UTC)
I'm very surprised someone said yes. OTOH, I am a naive 'information wants to be free' type; once something has become information, it's too late to try stopping it. (If you're worried about child porn and stuff, then attack the incentives that people have for making it, or raid the physical locations it's uploaded from (carefully and politely in the first instance because the first three are probably zombies), but once it's information it should spread widely so that you can have a nice talk with the people who download it and keep an eye on them.)

OTOH, due to my naive 'information wants to be free' stance, I also have no problem with ISPs handing over traffic records to law enforcement, although I think laws against posessing child porn are daft. I do not believe in the right to privacy; I can't really understand why people are so bothered about privacy. 'Not being interrupted when I'm doing something, please get out of my room so I can concentrate' privacy, yes; 'taking my clothes off now' or 'omg they have traffic logs of me looking at donkey porn / anarchist propoganda' privacy, no. Of course you do need a vaguely sane government to go with a lack of privacy, but the problem isn't a lack of privacy, it's people jumping to the wrong conclusions due to data, and it's the latter that needs fixing.
11th May, 2006 20:22 (UTC)
I agree with your point on freedom of information, although copyright would obvious have some effect on that and in general limited copyright is a good thing (in some cases I do however believe copyright should be far more limited - see comments about Sir Cliff).

As for privacy, I get really confused by the people who won't use store loyality cards claiming they're a form of "spyware". OK they might give the shops I shop at full details of my shopping habits, but how's that a bad thing? It's not as if I'm buying illegal drugs at the supermarket!
11th May, 2006 13:19 (UTC)
I'd like to see about the same level of censorship as you see with the Royal Mail, which is to say, they will never read your mail, but if you post a copy of "Kiddie Porn Monthly" in a see-through wrapper, you can expect it won't get through.

Thus I'd be happy with the introduction of a series of simple censorship controls which would make it harder but far from impossible to view said web content, the purpose being to eliminate any 'casual' law-breakers (people looking for such information for a laugh, etc.). Frankly nothing will stop the determined, but I'd like to stop the idally curious and seperate them from the hard-core who are the real problem.

Of course such censorship would have to be carefully handled and open to scrutiny and review, which is something the Americans are usually better at than we are. I'm of the opinion that the answer to "Where does it stop?" in this case should be: "Where we want it to"
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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