David Cameron has taken a step towards social conservatism, away from his more liberal leanings on issues such as gay marriage. He has now stated that he will ban hardcore pornography from the internet in an attempt to protect children and prevent people from viewing this material. His intentions are well meant, there is no doubt about that. However, his cause is ultimately another attempt by the nanny state at making censorship the norm in society, by protecting us from all things nasty. I am going to show just how pointless his actions are and why this censorship might reach further than we initially thought.
The first issue with this legislation is that there are already ways for people and families to block this content that is built-in to internet browsers. If his intentions are, as Mr Cameron says, to prevent children from viewing this content, then why not make this more widely known by parents. Parents should take responsibility for their children by putting these blocks in place if they do not wish their children to view such content, or even by doing something as simple as getting the child to use the computer in a communal area where they can be monitored.
The second issue is that he wrongly assumes that viewing violent or graphic content is the spark that causes this kind of behaviour to happen in the first place. I would liken this issue to content in films and video games and quite frankly, I’m not going to go out and murder or rape people just because I have viewed this content; I know that it is wrong.
The third issue is that it takes very little to circumvent the blocks. Internet piracy sites have been blocked for a long time now, yet all it takes to get past this block is the use of a proxy, which essentially means going to the site via a secondary area which is not blocked by the ISP.
My fourth issue is the role of special interest groups in the creation of this idea. Why should such small minority groups get a say in policy that affects the rest of us? It is dangerous to allow such things to happen because, ultimately, the end result might and probably does benefit their cause more than us; not to mention that nobody voted for these groups to create our policies.
This leads me on to my fifth point. The role of these special interest groups has, as predicted, led to further censorship than we were initially told. A new article by Wired.com has suggested that “users may automatically be opted in to blocks on “violent material”, “extremist related content”, “anorexia and eating disorder websites” and “suicide related websites”, “alcohol” and “smoking”. But the list doesn’t stop there. It even extends to blocking “web forums” and “esoteric material”, whatever that is. “Web blocking circumvention tools” is also included, of course”. This step down the path of trying to censor the internet is clearly dangerous when other things get thrown in to it, taking us down the slippery slope to a place where we no longer get to choose what we can and can’t view.
Although David Cameron’s intentions were essentially noble and he did suggest that people would be able to opt out of the block, why does the Government think it has the right to tell us what we can and can’t view? And why should anyone have to opt out of a block which suggests that everyone has given permission to have the block put there in the first place? Legislation that erodes away personal freedom, privacy and responsibility should always be questioned. We don’t want to go down the ugly road that leads towards fascism. I hope that Mr Cameron will end this futile attempt at censorship and I also hope that everyone else will see this legislation for what it is- an attempt at control.
By Daniel Harding