Cameron’s Firewall

British Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing a new firewall on British ISP’s. In addition to blocking material like violent pornography, it will included an “opt in” option for any pornography. If you’re wondering how long it will be before the list of people who “opt in” to porn gets leaked to embarrass them, it will probably be measurable in femtoseconds.

Even on its own terms, Cameron’s Great Firewall is objectionable. As EFF points out, there is little reason to believe it will stop people looking for illegal content who are web savvy. It is likely that a host of website and search terms will get “accidentally” swept up in the net. And it puts the tools in place for much more abusive censorship (put a pin in that for a moment).

Moreover, there is almost no evidence that internet pornography is “corroding childhood” or provoking violence. There is no evidence that even violent porn does this. In fact, as pornography has exploded over the last twenty years, every social trend has been positive. Rape and sexual assault are way down; divorce is down, domestic violence is down, abortion is down, even teen pregnancy is way way down. It has fallen faster in states with more web access. Even the most extreme porn shows no connection to any real world harm.

(I’ve previously blogged, in the context of movie violence, about why I think violent entertainment can reduce real-world violence.)

So why is Cameron pushing for something that will put women and children in greater danger in the UK? Why is he suddenly …


The British prime minister’s internet filters will be about more than just hardcore pornography, according to information obtained by the Open Rights Group.

The organisation, which campaigns for digital freedoms, has spoken to some of the Internet Service Providers that will be constructing Cameron’s content filters. They discovered that a host of other categories of supposedly-objectionable material may be on the block-list.

As well as pornography, 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.

Needless to say, there is little justification for any of this. People don’t commit suicide because they read about it on a website. People don’t develop eating disorders because they read about it. People smoked and drank alcohol and beat the snot out of each other long before Algore was even born, least of all before he invented the internet. Blocking all this stuff and effectively imposing an ASBO on the entire nation is not going to make Britain any safer. It’s just going to put the British government’s claws into the information superhighway so that they can control content and, with it, people.

I have no problem with internet filters being available to people who want them. I’m a dad and there’s content I don’t Sal 11000 Beta to see, at least until she’s figured out my router password. But an automatic opt-in dictated by government is simply unacceptable. And don’t think for a moment that our own SOPA-supporting, CDA-befuddled politicians aren’t casting an eye across the pond to see how much freedom Cameron’s firewall can take away.

(H/T: Dr. Brooke Magnanti.)

Comments are closed.

  1. Seattle Outcast

    Just another heavy-handed government thought control program – of course, it’s “for the children”, which means it isn’t at all.

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  2. AlexInCT

    Just another heavy-handed government thought control program – of course, it’s “for the children”, which means it isn’t at all.

    Funny how much abuse of power and outright totalitarianism you can get away with while invoking the need to protect, or protect people from, children, terrorism, climate change, or social justice, huh? These code words immediately set off my alarms when I hear some fucking politician tell us they mean well and they want to protect us. The agenda is to line their pockets and increase their power, they don’t fucking give a shit about us otherwise.

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  3. Hal_10000 *

    Whenever anyone says “for the children”, I start getting mad precisely because it does hit me emotionally as a father and I recognize what they are doing. Politicos who take advantage of citizen’s parental love for their own advantage are the lowest.

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  4. Poosh

    Much like the evil “you must opt out if you don’t want your organs donated after death” law in Wales, this is an act of tyranny. I would point out OBVIOUSLY pornography and children has terrible effects on them and their mental evolution, that’s not even worth debating.

    This entire proposal is wrong and I’m sorry to see the Daily Mail spearheaded it. The real problem is scumbag, idiot parents letting their young children have access to the internet, unsupervised, in the first place. You CAN buy bloody filters anyway, and I’m sure there are free filters as well. As usual it’s people who are unfit to parent causing these issues. Blaming porn for the evil sexualisation of children is pure scapegoating. The real culprits include the overall media (tv and movies lets not forget) and the parents themselves. Most of these things that are having terrible affects on a child’s consciousness are things clearly NOT for children, yet these parents refuse to, you know, be parents.

    Your entirely wrong if you don’t think pornography – or violence – can warp a young child’s mind, especially one with poor parents (each child is unique of course). But NONE of these things are meant to be consumed by children.

    I find it extraordinary that we’re trying to ban porn through this act of soft tyranny whilst teaching little kids about blowjobs and all sorts through state sex education. What’s the *real* difference again? Teaching a kid about a blowjob in class or him/her watching it online has the same mental affect.

    I do agree, Hal, on the significant benefits porn has for a society.

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  5. Seattle Outcast

    Let’s play the other side of the card and say that children are being exposed to large amounts of porn (like we were when we scored an old stack of smut being tossed out, or hidden in a closet) – what is the net effect it will have on them? Well, aside from a few boners, those kids will be totally unaffected.

    If the kids are too young to be sexually curious, then the worst that will happen is they will have a few awkward questions about anatomy differences between boys and girls, and wonder why mommy is on top of daddy while screaming about god, or if mommy does it in the butt just like the girl with the tattoos does. If they are older, then perhaps they have scored some primo spanking material.

    None of it will turn children into perverted monsters. They were already born that way, or given enough abuse to destroy their psyche, but your average day-to-day porn isn’t the culprit.

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  6. Hal_10000 *

    Poosh, I’m not convinced that porn has bad effects on children but I don’t want my child exposed to it. That’s why I filter the content on computers she can access.

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  7. Seattle Outcast

    Your filter is worthless/meaningless. Kids will ALWAYS find a way to access anything you put off limits to them – it won’t even be difficult for them to do so.

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  8. Hal_10000 *

    Your filter is worthless/meaningless. Kids will ALWAYS find a way to access anything you put off limits to them – it won’t even be difficult for them to do so.

    Well, yeah, but I can at least not make it EASY for them. :) The Law of Parenting requires that I make a good faith effort.

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  9. Seattle Outcast

    The Law of Parenting requires that I make a good faith effort.

    OK, but I’ve known other parents that flat-out did not give a shit. One of them even got a subscription to Penthouse for his boys when they hit puberty. The kids all turned out fine, knew what went in what hole, and that screwing wasn’t an invitation for satan to enter your life.

    Seriously, if you knew all the fucked-in-the-head girls I’ve met who had extremely strict, and generally overly religious, upbringings, you’d rethink a lot of parenting advice you may have heard over the years. Not that most people go those extremes, but it gives you something to seriously work toward NOT doing.

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  10. Poosh

    Anything that sexualises a child before his moral or metal capabilities are up to spec will absolutely warp a child’s consciousness which he probably will retain in adulthood. Seeing women uses merely as sex objects, sorry to be feminist here, will obviously warp a child’s views. Plenty of ways to stop this, and very good parents will simply trump what porn demonstrates to the kid of course.

    We’re not talking about a playboy pics we’re talking about ATM BUKKAKE 2000 SUPER GANGBANG, and on a serious note simulation of rape. I don’t know what happens in America but in the UK we’ve had very, very young children engaged in rape and sexual assault. It’s quite obvious where they got these ideas from. We’re not talking about playboy or, hell, dare I say “female porn” where you have 50 minutes of relationship-establishment before you even see a boob. Perhaps we should be saying “hardcore porn” to be clear, as playboy is obviously, annoyingly, nothing like hardcore porn.

    At any rate, parents should be monitoring what a child is subject to, that’s called “parenting” and it disgusts me that the state is acting in a soft tyrannical manner. Porn is for adults that’s why it’s XXX.

    The real culprits, imo, is entertainment media which aims and colludes in sexualizing very young children, and constantly gets away with it. Rhianna, I’m looking at you, although thanks to you I now know it’s probably ok to hit a woman.

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  11. Seattle Outcast


    The fact that this even exists is proof of mental illness for a percentage of the public.

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