Nicholas Goodchild

Historic and Pared Down

The Thin End of the Wedge

20 December 2010 by Nicholas in Current Events

A government minister has floated the idea of censoring the internet on an “opt in” basis. To whit: if you wish to receive censored sites you will have to contact your ISP and ask them to allow you to do so. This has been spun as a way of stopping children from accessing pornography and sounds altruistic. However, who determines what counts as pornography?

The previous government implemented anti terrorism laws which were ostensibly designed to prevent funding from reaching radical groups. The first use of these powers that I am aware of was to seize Icelandic assets during their economic turmoil. The papers applauded and I certainly have no wish to see people lose their money, but it is a striking example of how legislation with one aim is appropriated for others entirely. How long will it be, should this mooted legislation pass, before we are routinely denied access to sites that we don’t even know exist in order to ask for access to them?

For me the red flag is Wikileaks. It seems too much of a coincidence for this to come about just as Wikileaks is facing enormous pressure and the US government and its corporate allies are doing everything in their power to shut down the site and prevent it from being able to function financially. With this proposed filter, would we see Wikileaks?
What about sites routinely challenging the government or authority?

This is a fundamental freedom of speech issue. This is not about children or porn, but about communication, about honest criticism and about freedom of the press. This is about truth and those that would seek to prevent us from accessing it.