Whilst I expected this to happen I’m slightly surprised that it’s been quite this quick. Just the other day BT announce they’re turning on censorship by default and before you can say “cluster fuck” it emerges that O2 are blocking a support site for homeless LGBT teens. This isn’t an accident, or at least not much of one, this is the filters working as designed. The New Statesman covers it very well, the debate was always framed as anti-porn when it was never just about porn, we don’t know who compiles the lists, the lists get changed and updated all of the time and who defines “objectionable”? This question becomes even more important when you discover that Governments are routinely asking Google to remove political content. For January to June 2013 the UK Government asked Google to remove 556 items and the American government 3,887 items. As the numerous times our Government has said “take the action we suggest lest we legislate” I can’t help but be put in mind of a line from Hamlet,
Rozencrantz : “Both your majesties
Might, by the sovereign power you have of us,
Put your dread pleasures more into command
Than to entreaty.”
There is now a standard format for transferring data for DNS based black lists, most commercial implementations will (if they haven’t already) adopt this standard. The Government can then just “suggest” that ISPs might be well advised to subscribe to the Government provided black list, so that they can block things in a timely fashion and thus avoid any nastiness. All it would take is an extra line or two in the ISPs configuration, keep providing the optional categories your customers expect and subscribe everyone to the Governments list – to avoid special liability (a precedent established by hacked off and the press charter – thanks guys). ISPs already block some illegal content after it’s been properly checked, by the unaccountable IWF, but that is so far quite restricted. The state is slowly but surely putting in place all the building blocks needed to kill dissent on the internet, wait till some random high percentage of people have the filters turned on for something and then make it harder to opt out, or just impossible to opt out of that all important government feed. I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say it again, the time to stop the state is not when they start rounding people up but when they start building the fences – here we see another fence post going up to keep us safe. Once the fence is in place the struggle for freedom is harder – I shall leave it up to you to decide if we’re seeing the posts going up or the first strands of the fence.