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Government extends porn filter to 'extremist' content

Government extends porn filter to 'extremist' content

David Cameron, seen here shaking hands with Chinese Premier Wen, has declared his intention to extend mandatory child pornography filters to cover ill-defined 'extremist content' for all UK internet users.

Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed plans to use filtering powers ostensibly introduced to fight child pornography to also filter out 'extremist' political content - widening the scope of the filters before they are even properly in place.

When Cameron announced plans to introduce block-by-default web filters in the UK, an extension of the system already put in place to block child pornography then silently extended to block peer-to-peer and file download sites at the behest of the media industry, critics claimed that while the overall goal of protecting children was laudable the mandatory filters would be the peak of a very slippery slope. 'If we go down this route,' Pirate Party leader Loz Kaye told us at the time, 'each week we risk a new knee jerk reaction will add to the list of what politicians decide we can not see.'

Kaye's prescience was proved this week when Cameron made a clear statement of intent during Prime Minister's Questions: 'We have had repeated meetings of the Extremism Task Force — it met again yesterday — setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative,' Cameron claimed, 'including by blocking online sites.'

To be clear, the Extremism Task Force is not an organisation set up to counter child pornography, but a group formed following the murder of soldier Lee Rigby, allegedly carried out by two self-proclaimed Muslims - who, coincidentally, stand trial for that crime today - designed to investigate and prevent terrorism and religious extremism in the UK. The group's involvement in web filtering in the UK was further confirmed by Home Office Minister James Brokenshire, who stated that an announcement on the matter would be forthcoming.

With the filters having been initially introduced to block child pornography, and then extended to require the user to opt-out of the system in order to view even legal pornography - when the filters work at all, anyway - this is a clear example of feature creep, and it has privacy and free speech campaigners concerned for the future.

'This is yet more gesture politics. Brokenshire risks handing terrorists new propaganda victories as they look more effective than they are and can also claim to be victimised. Meanwhile, web blocks are at best a kind of net curtain that can be trivially evaded by those seeking the content,' claimed Open Rights Group director Jim Killock. 'At the minimum, the government must get a court order, and use the law. But they appear to be proposing to make up lists and tell companies to take action on the say-so of police officers or bureaucrats. That would be unacceptable by any measure.'

Peter Bradwell, also of the ORG, has highlighted what he claims are 'backroom deals' by groups which simply cannot be trusted. In a blog post, Bradwell writes: 'The government's policy on extremism content can't just be that ISPs should block sites that have been classified as extreme by some secretive government body, without any court decision about a law being broken or any public, democratic discussion in Parliament about the process involved. This should not be another drift towards vague, unaccountable and privatised Internet regulation. This sort of Internet regulation is about who decides what we - not just 'terrorists' - can look at and do online.

'Maybe the government will surprise us with their announcement. But we have seen that when it comes to Internet blocking the government has a tendency to prioritise making favourable headlines above a smart, effective policy fix. So fingers are crossed in hope rather than expectation.'

The government has yet to offer a date for its formal announcement of the newly extended mandatory filters.

41 Comments

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Shirty 29th November 2013, 11:10 Quote
Corky in 3.. 2... 1....
trotter94 29th November 2013, 11:43 Quote
Has everyone worked out this government is fascist yet?
DriftCarl 29th November 2013, 11:47 Quote
I actually might have to vote in the next election for the first time ever to get these morons out of government.
Nexxo 29th November 2013, 11:53 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Now, in many respects, information has never been so free. There are more ways to spread more ideas to more people than at any moment in history. And even in authoritarian countries, information networks are helping people discover new facts and making governments more accountable.

During his visit to China in November, for example, President Obama held a town hall meeting with an online component to highlight the importance of the internet. In response to a question that was sent in over the internet, he defended the right of people to freely access information, and said that the more freely information flows, the stronger societies become. He spoke about how access to information helps citizens hold their own governments accountable, generates new ideas, encourages creativity and entrepreneurship. The United States belief in that ground truth is what brings me here today.

Because amid this unprecedented surge in connectivity, we must also recognize that these technologies are not an unmitigated blessing. These tools are also being exploited to undermine human progress and political rights. Just as steel can be used to build hospitals or machine guns, or nuclear power can either energize a city or destroy it, modern information networks and the technologies they support can be harnessed for good or for ill. The same networks that help organize movements for freedom also enable al-Qaida to spew hatred and incite violence against the innocent. And technologies with the potential to open up access to government and promote transparency can also be hijacked by governments to crush dissent and deny human rights.

In the last year, we’ve seen a spike in threats to the free flow of information. China, Tunisia, and Uzbekistan have stepped up their censorship of the internet. In Vietnam, access to popular social networking sites has suddenly disappeared. And last Friday in Egypt, 30 bloggers and activists were detained. One member of this group, Bassem Samir, who is thankfully no longer in prison, is with us today. So while it is clear that the spread of these technologies is transforming our world, it is still unclear how that transformation will affect the human rights and the human welfare of the world’s population.

On their own, new technologies do not take sides in the struggle for freedom and progress, but the United States does. We stand for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas. And we recognize that the world’s information infrastructure will become what we and others make of it. Now, this challenge may be new, but our responsibility to help ensure the free exchange of ideas goes back to the birth of our republic. The words of the First Amendment to our Constitution are carved in 50 tons of Tennessee marble on the front of this building. And every generation of Americans has worked to protect the values etched in that stone.

Franklin Roosevelt built on these ideas when he delivered his Four Freedoms speech in 1941. Now, at the time, Americans faced a cavalcade of crises and a crisis of confidence. But the vision of a world in which all people enjoyed freedom of expression, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear transcended the troubles of his day. And years later, one of my heroes, Eleanor Roosevelt, worked to have these principles adopted as a cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They have provided a lodestar to every succeeding generation, guiding us, galvanizing us, and enabling us to move forward in the face of uncertainty.

So as technology hurtles forward, we must think back to that legacy. We need to synchronize our technological progress with our principles. In accepting the Nobel Prize, President Obama spoke about the need to build a world in which peace rests on the inherent rights and dignities of every individual. And in my speech on human rights at Georgetown a few days later, I talked about how we must find ways to make human rights a reality. Today, we find an urgent need to protect these freedoms on the digital frontiers of the 21st century.

There are many other networks in the world. Some aid in the movement of people or resources, and some facilitate exchanges between individuals with the same work or interests. But the internet is a network that magnifies the power and potential of all others. And that’s why we believe it’s critical that its users are assured certain basic freedoms. Freedom of expression is first among them. This freedom is no longer defined solely by whether citizens can go into the town square and criticize their government without fear of retribution. Blogs, emails, social networks, and text messages have opened up new forums for exchanging ideas, and created new targets for censorship.

As I speak to you today, government censors somewhere are working furiously to erase my words from the records of history. But history itself has already condemned these tactics. Two months ago, I was in Germany to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. The leaders gathered at that ceremony paid tribute to the courageous men and women on the far side of that barrier who made the case against oppression by circulating small pamphlets called samizdat. Now, these leaflets questioned the claims and intentions of dictatorships in the Eastern Bloc and many people paid dearly for distributing them. But their words helped pierce the concrete and concertina wire of the Iron Curtain.

The Berlin Wall symbolized a world divided and it defined an entire era. Today, remnants of that wall sit inside this museum where they belong, and the new iconic infrastructure of our age is the internet. Instead of division, it stands for connection. But even as networks spread to nations around the globe, virtual walls are cropping up in place of visible walls.

Some countries have erected electronic barriers that prevent their people from accessing portions of the world’s networks. They’ve expunged words, names, and phrases from search engine results. They have violated the privacy of citizens who engage in non-violent political speech. These actions contravene the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which tells us that all people have the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” With the spread of these restrictive practices, a new information curtain is descending across much of the world. And beyond this partition, viral videos and blog posts are becoming the samizdat of our day.

As in the dictatorships of the past, governments are targeting independent thinkers who use these tools. In the demonstrations that followed Iran’s presidential elections, grainy cell phone footage of a young woman’s bloody murder provided a digital indictment of the government’s brutality. We’ve seen reports that when Iranians living overseas posted online criticism of their nation’s leaders, their family members in Iran were singled out for retribution. And despite an intense campaign of government intimidation, brave citizen journalists in Iran continue using technology to show the world and their fellow citizens what is happening inside their country. In speaking out on behalf of their own human rights, the Iranian people have inspired the world. And their courage is redefining how technology is used to spread truth and expose injustice.

Now, all societies recognize that free expression has its limits. We do not tolerate those who incite others to violence, such as the agents of al-Qaida who are, at this moment, using the internet to promote the mass murder of innocent people across the world. And hate speech that targets individuals on the basis of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation is reprehensible. It is an unfortunate fact that these issues are both growing challenges that the international community must confront together. And we must also grapple with the issue of anonymous speech. Those who use the internet to recruit terrorists or distribute stolen intellectual property cannot divorce their online actions from their real world identities. But these challenges must not become an excuse for governments to systematically violate the rights and privacy of those who use the internet for peaceful political purposes.
SlowMotionSuicide 29th November 2013, 12:39 Quote
"So this is how liberty dies...with thunderous applause"

I think it's time for you guys to go looking for torches and pitchforks now.
SlowMotionSuicide 29th November 2013, 12:40 Quote
double.
Corky42 29th November 2013, 12:43 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirty
Corky in 3.. 2... 1....

:D I'm not sure i need to say much.
If anyone is still in doubt that Cameron wants to censors and monitor everything done on the internet this article just adds to the ever growing evidence proving otherwise.
Phil Rhodes 29th November 2013, 12:51 Quote
We already have a secret block list, called Cleanfeed. It is claimed to be aimed at child pornography - in which case arguably fine - but you already can't find out what's on it. This is, obviously, worse, but the situation was preexisting.
Quote:
the murder of soldier Lee Rigby by two self-proclaimed Muslims - who, coincidentally, stand trial for that crime today

Rather jumping the gun, eh, Gareth?

P
Gareth Halfacree 29th November 2013, 12:56 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
We already have a secret block list, called Cleanfeed. It is claimed to be aimed at child pornography - in which case arguably fine - but you already can't find out what's on it. This is, obviously, worse, but the situation was preexisting.
You mean the secret block list that is clearly mentioned in the article, Phil? The one that was introduced for child porn, and now includes file sharing sites? As the article says?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Rhodes
[Allegations of criminality snipped]
Rather jumping the gun, eh, Gareth?
This, on the other hand, is an entirely fair point. Let me go sprinkle some 'allegedlies' around the place.
Phil Rhodes 29th November 2013, 13:05 Quote
Wait, what? We're actually talking about Cleanfeed? Oh. Crap. Well, you didn't say. No offence intended, anyway. I was more thinking of the tendency of governments to pile on duplicate solutions to problems they haven't solved, in order to not solve them again and gain votes in so doing.
Corky42 29th November 2013, 13:08 Quote
Yea but cleanfeed doesn't allow GCHQ to monitor any data going across the internet, where as all these proposals by Cameron allow exactly that. He has even gone on record saying that he has tasked GCHQ in partnership with the NSA to monitor the internet.
r3loaded 29th November 2013, 14:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by DriftCarl
I actually might have to vote in the next election for the first time ever to get these morons out of government.
Please, please do. Also write to your MP.
SchizoFrog 29th November 2013, 15:34 Quote
I sardonically laugh at the presumptions that Labour would be any different.
Corky42 29th November 2013, 15:55 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I sardonically laugh at the presumptions that Labour would be any different.

Indeed the monitoring and censorship of the internet has wide spread cross party support, and AFAIK the 150 other country's that will have 100,000 search terms blocked didn't vote for any political party in the UK.
Guinevere 29th November 2013, 17:42 Quote
This will work brilliantly. Just like blocking a few pirate bay URLs reduced torrent traffic in the UK to zero.

Who will give me a nice stirring "Huzzah!" for Mr Cameron?
Andy Mc 29th November 2013, 19:47 Quote
Surprise, Sur-Fu******-prise.
t5kcannon 29th November 2013, 22:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SchizoFrog
I sardonically laugh at the presumptions that Labour would be any different.

Exactly. Tory and Labour policy on this issue is very similar. Labour are even trying to attack the relative freedom of the UK press via the nonsensical Leveson proposals. The Tory's seem to be in favor of some kind of watered down version of that, which is not to their credit either.
SuicideNeil 29th November 2013, 22:34 Quote
Vote Monster Raving Loony Party, it's the only option left..
Nexxo 29th November 2013, 22:55 Quote
The only sane option, no less.
RedFlames 29th November 2013, 23:04 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by SuicideNeil
Vote Monster Raving Loony Party, it's the only option left..

Would if they put a candidate up... locally it's a choice of Labour, Communists or the BNP
brave758 30th November 2013, 03:27 Quote
That idiot needs to go..... How the hell did this pass?
RedFlames 30th November 2013, 13:08 Quote
Beacuse
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl Sagan
We live in a society exquisitely dependent on science and technology, in which hardly anyone knows anything about science and technology.
Tangster 30th November 2013, 13:51 Quote
Sigh. I'm going to need to vote next election. I hope the pirate party or someone like that is running a candidate in my area.
Corky42 30th November 2013, 14:25 Quote
Or just spoil your vote as they count those. Then pundits don't try to work out why so many people voted for fringe party's
DriftCarl 30th November 2013, 17:28 Quote
It might be better to vote for an independent. They wouldn't have a party to pressure them and force their ideas on the candidate. But proper research needs to be done on those independents.
Maybe I should stand myself :p
Spreadie 30th November 2013, 21:48 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangster
Sigh. I'm going to need to vote next election. I hope the pirate party or someone like that is running a candidate in my area.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Or just spoil your vote as they count those. Then pundits don't try to work out why so many people voted for fringe party's
It's about time they gave us the option to vote against a candidate rather than spoil our vote in protest. I'd wager that would dramatically increase voter turn-out.
PingCrosby 1st December 2013, 11:31 Quote
I've just bought some biscuits
law99 1st December 2013, 11:58 Quote
Good to see that before they've even started the censorship rampage they've already lost control of it.

They make such a fuss about freedoms of the press on the radio and how government regulation will run riot on these freedoms and thus the UK. Now, to an extent I see their point.

It's been minus however minutes until this happens and they've already begun abusing it.

Well done politicians. Well done. I am sure you have other redeeming features such as a spoken grace and proprietary, eloquence and some history degrees or whatever it was you did before you became in charge of a nation; but you sure do look like incompetent, oafish, clumsy and quite frankly intellectually juvenile antiques when it comes to the world of technology.
Corky42 1st December 2013, 14:39 Quote
Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.
XXAOSICXX 1st December 2013, 17:58 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99
juvenile antiques

Like, really, really old children's toys :p
Anfield 1st December 2013, 18:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99

It's been minus however minutes until this happens and they've already begun abusing it.

Abusing it before it even happens was the only way to prove those wrong who predicted it would be abused as soon as it is in place.
Xir 1st December 2013, 21:39 Quote
Quote:
'extremist' political content
So, is Al-Jazeera on the list yet?
Showing the news from a different standpoint than the western gevernments is bound to be 'extremist' political content...
cyrilthefish 1st December 2013, 21:54 Quote
I wonder how long it'll be before any non-rightwing political views are classed as extremism and censored? :/
Corky42 1st December 2013, 23:12 Quote
It's worrying that on the 10 May 1933 a German government official proclaimed "The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end." after 25,000 books had been burnt.

I guess as you cant burn the internet the next best thing is censorship.
law99 2nd December 2013, 08:36 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anfield
Quote:
Originally Posted by law99

It's been minus however minutes until this happens and they've already begun abusing it.

Abusing it before it even happens was the only way to prove those wrong who predicted it would be abused as soon as it is in place.

We have a winner!
Star*Dagger 3rd December 2013, 05:19 Quote
The closer you get to the American Empire's way of doing things, the further you will be from the EU's way of doing things. One is collapsing the other ascending, I'll let you figure out who is who, oh wait you won't have access to the "extremist" web pages that would give you info on this.

Reject America, and embrace the EU, it is the UK's only hope, otherwise you will become the 51st state, one without a vote.
Xir 3rd December 2013, 10:26 Quote
What, no plasma greet?
Corky42 4th December 2013, 15:52 Quote
http://www.reddit.com/r/worldnews/comments/1rh8ws/uk_prime_minister_david_cameron_announces_that/
Quote:
I'm an Iranian and this is EXACTLY the way it started in Iran. More than 10 years ago, the Internet access in Iran was like any other place in the world (well, maybe slower). Then they started blocking "immoral" (=porn) websites. Then blocked sites they deemed "against Iran's national security" and so on. Now look what we have. Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, a lot of news sites, Reddit, and many, many, millions of many websites are blocked in Iran. The Internet without Anti-Filter software is essentially useless.

I assure you: They won't stop here.
Assassin8or 9th December 2013, 06:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedFlames
Would if they put a candidate up... locally it's a choice of Labour, Communists or the BNP

You could always stand up for what you believe in and run as a candidate yourself. You need ten subscribers and £500 to stand.
Quote:
Originally Posted by brave758
That idiot needs to go..... How the hell did this pass?

Because people like us have sat around moaning for too long and not stood up and against them in the general elections.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tangster
Sigh. I'm going to need to vote next election. I hope the pirate party or someone like that is running a candidate in my area.

See my response to redflames. And see below.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corky42
Or just spoil your vote as they count those. Then pundits don't try to work out why so many people voted for fringe party's

This is what I have done since I could vote, however, it doesn't solve this issue as people will still vote for the main parties, either as the see no alternative or because they feel strongly about not letting another specific party represent them.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DriftCarl
It might be better to vote for an independent. They wouldn't have a party to pressure them and force their ideas on the candidate. But proper research needs to be done on those independents.
Maybe I should stand myself :p

This. I think that if I do decide to stand my stand out policy will be that my constituents should be able to decide how I vote in the HoC and that it should be very easy for them to feed that back to me. Of course I am thinking of a technological solution.
On my part I should give the views of the other main political parties on how they would like the vote to go, and I should express my own inclination and reasoning for how I would like the core to go, but it really should be my constituents that have the final say.


P.S. I woke up and remembered that I wanted to contribute to this discussion a few days ago but never got around to it. I've been to wonder if the kind of change that is needed is even possible in our current political climate.
qualalol 9th December 2013, 08:01 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Assassin8or




This. I think that if I do decide to stand my stand out policy will be that my constituents should be able to decide how I vote in the HoC and that it should be very easy for them to feed that back to me. Of course I am thinking of a technological solution.
On my part I should give the views of the other main political parties on how they would like the vote to go, and I should express my own inclination and reasoning for how I would like the core to go, but it really should be my constituents that have the final say.


P.S. I woke up and remembered that I wanted to contribute to this discussion a few days ago but never got around to it. I've been to wonder if the kind of change that is needed is even possible in our current political climate.
In practice getting constituent decisions is just too much bother, since there is just too much boring/tedious stuff in government. What IMHO does work well though is the swiss model, where all constitutional changes go to (legally binding) referendum, and any changes in law can be subject to referendum if you gather enough signatures in a (2-month, or maybe 6-month) period. You can also introduce laws via referendum too if you get the required number of signatures.

The above system might seem inefficient, but the job of parliament isn't to completely rewrite the whole of the countries laws every 4 years (slight exaggeration, but that's what it feels like to me), it's to improve what's needing improving, and keep everything else as constant as possible in the long run, and with more voter control over what is actually law you actually end up with parliaments that make laws that actually represent the peoples views, and you also end up with lawmaking taking a much more long-term view of things in general (instead of knee-jerk reactions to new item X, Y or Z as also seems to be the case in the UK).
Assassin8or 9th December 2013, 09:47 Quote
You're right about being boring and tedious and voter fatigue is a factor. My solution would be maybe a case of batching the voting into monthly blocks. I'd be open to petition to query HoC.
I'm not saying that it is great so a solution but I would vote for it over the current system. In addition it should appeal to all voters as they still get there particular political stance represented in each vote, rather than once every five years now.

I have heard about the Swiss system before and I'd have to agree that it sounds better than what we have. Would you say that the size of their population is a factor in it working? Also, have you worked over there by any chance? I only ask as the person who told me about their political system worked over there for a time.
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