10/24/2008 02:19:00 pm


Posted by Unknown |

The Government is planning on getting an internet censorship thing going at an ISP level. I've been reading a little bit about it over the past few days. The idea is that they'll block illegal websites at ISP before it get's to us. There will be two levels, the one that makes the net "child safe" (ie no porn or violent material), and the one that only blocks illegal sites. You can opt out of the child safe one but not the illegal one.

Personally I'm not much of a fan. As a good Christian I feel like I should be supporting any plans by the Government to block porn and illegal material from our computers. But I don't really feel that way. I think filters are a good idea. And if people want to install their own filters they should go for it.

But I don't really want the Government deciding what I can and can't access. Not because I think we should be free to access everything. I think some things should be blocked because they profit from the abuse of innocent, non-consenting people, especially children. But blocking access to illegal material won't actually stop people from getting their hands on it. There are always going to be ways around the safeguards. Blocking access isn't going to cut demand and it's not going to make people better. To me it seems smarter to put resources into tracking down the users and creators because I doubt putting filters on everyone's internet will stop the people they're actually designed to stop.

I also think it sets up a dangerous precedent. The problem for governments with the internet is that they can't control it. They can't decide what people do or say. What's great about the internet is that it is the most pure form of free speech we have. It democratises communication. Now people can say whatever they want, to everyone they want, and there isn't much anyone can do to stop them. If we allow the Government to have a say in who says what to us, conversely we are beginning to let them decide what we can and cannot say to other people. Of course at this stage I doubt there is much I want to say or do on the internet that the Government would want to block. But I'm not sure that's the point. I'm into minimising the potential abuse of power rather than realising too late that they can do what they want and no one stopped them.

Ultimately you can't legislate people into being good. You can't make laws that will change people's hearts or desires. Censorship like this just seems to be a clumsy attempt at making the people moral.