If David Cameron and the rest of the British Government has its way, all 60 million+ people in the U.K. will be blocked from viewing Internet porn by default by the end of the year. Those who want to view Internet porn after the edict comes into force will have to actively remove the block, either by circumventing it themselves or, for most of the mainstream, asking their ISP to turn the filters off.
Whatever you think of Internet pornography, and it is undoubtedly a touchy subject that divides people, this is a rather worrying development for many people. While it’s a “ban” on porn today, it could be a “ban” on swearing tomorrow, as is currently being pushed for in Russia. Where does it all end? In order to learn your thoughts on the subject of Internet censorship we posed a simple question for last week’s We Ask You column.
We asked you, What Would You Ban From The Internet? It’s impossible to completely eradicate something from existence, so this was more about what you would block people from doing or seeing online. In other words, if you were in charge of, well, everything, you would institute laws against these things.
The discussion generated a high number of comments and a healthy debate. Many people suggested banning things that are already illegal, such as child porn, identity theft, spam, and piracy. This would suggest that the authorities have got it right so far in their attempts to clamp down on the Wild West nature of the Web.
That is if you believe the authorities should have any say in what happens on the InterWebs, which many people who contributed to the discussion don’t. These individuals like the freedom the online world offers, away from the laws and rules which invariably govern life in the real world.
Others would like to see particular things banned from the Internet, with the following being a list of just some of the things mentioned in the comments section of the We Ask You article…
- Cat Videos!
Comment Of The Week
We had great input from the likes of Henk van Setten, Tom W, and Bumferry H, to name just a few. Comment Of The Week goes to Rob H, who, as well as the respect of myself and hopefully everybody reading this, receives a T-shirt for this comment:
The first major problem is that “banning” is censorship and there’s the “thin edge of a wedge” problem. Ban hard core porn then how soon before that extends to swimsuit photos?
We’ve already seen aspect of that in UK where accusations of “child porn” have been used against parents’ photos of their baby naked and even naked cherubs in renaissance paintings. If you think nudity is porn then it’s your mental condition I’m worried about not the creator or possessor of the image.
In any case there is no form of internet censorship that would comprehensively prevent exchange of the nastiest of content, those who want it only need to make more effort to conceal their activities (as already happens with some classes of extreme porn).
So lets not consider censorship, however there are other issues.
There is content few of us want to inadvertently encounter on the internet and so I’d be in favour of default ISP and Search Engine “family safe” settings as long as overriding those was explicitly a confidential decision and the right to do so with impunity was written into law, otherwise there’s a risk that overriding the setting might be regarded as proof of guilt.
Personally I set Google to safe search setting at http://www.google.com/preferences because it improves relevancy of search results anyway. In addittion I use OpenDNS to block several categories of other stuff I might prefer my kids not to be looking at – drugs, alcohol, gambling, weapons. Also the security suite on my PC and NAT firewall in the router help prevent some bad content reach me.
I’d like Google to do more to clean up the fraudulent and pointless search results. For example if I Google phone number I usually see pages of “who called be from this number” result pages which usually offer no useful information. What I really want is the website of the company whose phone number that is.
I’d also like to ban idiot internet users who disregard all the good advice like “never respond to spam”, the only reason that over 50% of all email traffic is spam is because some people respond to it. Sure most of us don’t see much of that because we’ve got effective spam filters but I still spend far too much time explaining that some.idiot@a-free-email-provder who promises to “get you top on Google” is a spammer and probable hacker/fraudster. Worse still is helping recovering their hacked website or email account after they gave some trickster their login details.
We like this comment because it takes a very sensible approach to the question, with the ultimate admission that censorship never really works anyway. That’s not to say there aren’t some things that should be banned, though perhaps partly in jest. Rob also posted a follow-up comment which just added to his claim to win the T-shirt.
We will be asking a new question tomorrow, so please join us then. We Ask You is a weekly column dedicated to finding out the opinions of MakeUseOf readers. We ask you a question and you tell us what you think. The question is open-ended and is usually open to debate. Some questions will be purely opinion-based, while others will see you sharing tips and advice, or advocating tools and apps to the MakeUseOf readership. This column is nothing without your input, all of which is valued.
Image Credit: Mikael Altemark