Web Blocking

A Pirate reads Piketty, part 2: The Caprices of Technology

George Walkden's picture

Part 2 of Piketty's book deals with the relationship between capital and income over time. There are fluctuations, there are differences between countries, and some forms of capital have changed in importance: agricultural land, for instance, has shrunk to a tiny proportion of the overall capital of the countries investigated. Still, the overall trajectory is pretty clear: capital is on the rise. Piketty cautions that "there is no natural force that inevitably reduces the importance of capital ... over the course of history" (p234).

One contention that should resonate with Pirates is that "technology, like the market, has neither limits nor morality". Piketty clarifies this by arguing that "Progress toward economic and technological rationality need not imply progress toward democratic and meritocratic rationality", and hence that "If one truly wishes to found a more just and rational social order based on common utility, it is not enough to count on the caprices of technology".

Cameron Announces Crackdown On Free Pornography

Friday, 31 July, 2015 - 17:00

For immediate release.

David Cameron has today announced a crackdown on free pornography sites. In a statement he says that free porn "could be shut down within months" and "I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down".

Impartiality concerns over London city police

Monday, 31 March, 2014 - 21:30

Significant questions are being raised by recent actions of the City of London Police over their increasing private enforcement activities for copyright lobby groups. Their latest initiative is the development of an online database of websites 'verified' as being illegal with the aim of online advertisers using the databse to restrict where their adverts will be displayed. 

Pirate Party UK's Andrew Norton said:

Inside Default Web Blocking - Part 2

Pro-Ana Content

Last year one of the many nasties due to be blocked was websites which encourage people to develop eating disorders, aka 'Pro-Anorexic' content. The content doesn't appear to be blocked under any of the various filters, suggesting that the ISPs may have realised the problems in this area - namely that an unrealistically proportioned, air-brushed model on a mainstream fashion publication can unfortunately be as self-image damaging as any 'legitimate' weight loss tips.

With the situation as it stands today, in this issue, at least, ISPs seem to have decided that mental health in the UK is an issue more complex than one which can be addressed by attempting to block websites.

Sex Education

BT's (fully optional in this case) filter has already come under heavy criticism for blocking 'gay and lesbian lifestyle' content, before back-peddling to sex education only.

BT's filter whilst claiming 'not [to] discriminate between heterosexual and LGBT content' clearly blocks sites such as gaytimes.co.uk (but not pinknews.co.uk) and does in fact effectively block a range of sex education sites such as the sexual health charity http://www.fpa.org.uk and http://www.contraceptioneducation.co.uk

As this is (for now, at least) a fully opt-in category, the potential for wider damage is fortunately limited.

Inside Default Web Blocking - Part 1

After sustained government pressure, 3 of the 4 major UK ISPs now offer web filtering products to their customers.   What filtering is going on? How effective is it? What's next?   These are questions with complex answers. The UK does not, as yet, have as invasive a system as the Great Firewall of China, but features nearly all of the same technologies, problems and circumvention techniques. In this two-part article, I will focus on the new ISP content filters and their varying implementations.   As a expert in internet and networking technologies as well as internet regulatory measures, I took it upon myself to analyse, in detail, the current state of UK web blocking by compiling information from a number of government, media and industry data sources in order to analyse issues with both the available filtering categories and the consistency of their implementation.

Opinion: Claire Perry’s “Porn Filter” Is Internet Censorship v1.0

Editor's picture
I closed my last article, Why is the UK the Most Censored Nation in Europe?, by writing (with reference to British censorship) “...you ain’t seen nothing yet.” After having studied the rise of the British censorship bureaucracy in recent decades, one thing was crystal-clear to me: authoritarians had fought hard to introduce tight censorship of video and TV, and the Internet was a threat to their control, as well as their livelihoods (censorship, it should be known, is a lucrative business).

Monday’s launch of David Cameron’s War on Porn meant a busy day for me. I started out with a stint on Radio 4’s Today Programme at 7:15, and by 1:30pm, I was on a Sky News panel: my thirteenth media appearance of the day.

Cameron’s initiative against the “poison” of pornography covered three main announcements. In reality, two of them were largely meaningless, and apparently designed to provide cover for the third: Britain’s first full step into physical censorship of the Internet.

Andy Halsall : The internet 'blame game' - watching the watchers

Problems with the internet including child protection are not being dealt with – government, ISPs, search engines and parents are passing the buck between each other rather than taking action

In the United Kingdom, both the coalition government and the opposition have called for the increased use of web filtering to deal with a whole range of problems that they see as emanating from the internet. A summit was held at 10 Downing Street to discuss issues of child protection and the web. The meeting, chaired by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, was attended by all of Britain's major internet service providers as well as the worlds larger tech companies including Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.

It is probably unsurprising that after the 90-minute summit, not very much changed in the ISP's or search engine's approaches to dealing with images of child exploitation online. That is not to say that the government did not immediately hail it as a great success. Yet the only concrete result appears to have been to secure additional funding for the Internet Watch Foundation, a commendable achievement. However, given that the government has already cut funding for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and the local authorities that deal with child protection issues and victims, that is scant consolation.

Of course what we should do to ensure that we are effective in detecting, investigating and dealing with abuse is to ensure that organisations like CEOP, the police and local authorities are properly funded. Yet the public discussion, even some of the stated reasons for the summit have been muddled. Far from dealing with issues of exploitation, Miller wrote in The Daily Mail on Saturday that she wanted the likes of Google to "protect my children from the depravity of internet porn".

Andy Halsall : Parenting by proxy

In a week where there has been a lot of argument about what Internet service providers and search engines should do to protect children and adults from harmful content online, we seem to have lost sight of what we want to achieve. The government, it seems, wants to teach children how to use technology and the internet, but at the same time presents a view of the internet as a medium where grave danger exists around every digital corner. This sends a contradictory message to parents about their responsibilities and does nothing to provide the resources needed to meet them.

As a parent, I know that the internet can't be treated like television. It may seem like a silly statement, but it's one that happens to be accurate and is important to determine how the internet is used and managed in the home. You can't turn the internet on and switch to a children’s channel. Sure there are sandboxes for children to play in on-line, but they are easy to get out of and metaphorically walk away from.

I think that we need to treat children using the internet more like we do when they play outside rather than when they watch a film. You can't filter the internet to the point where there is no danger, any more than you can filter the outside. Online they are interacting with other people, exploring new places and discovering new ideas. And like when they play outside, there are some dangers, but none, as in the wider world, that cannot be mitigated by supervision and awareness, if parents know where to look.

BPI Threatens Legal Action Against Pirate Party Executive

Friday, 14 December, 2012 - 17:45

The Pirate Party UK can confirm that 6 members of the party have received letters from a solicitors firm acting on behalf of the BPI threatening legal action. Leader Loz Kaye has been singled out, along with the 4 other members of the National Executive and the party's head of IT.

Pirate Party Leader Loz Kaye said:

Promo Bay Fiasco - Block Lifted

Wednesday, 5 December, 2012 - 21:15

Loz Kaye commented on reports that ISPs have been told that they no longer have to block The Promo Bay (a promotion tool for artists). This was following pressure put on music industry body the BPI.:

"The lifting of the Promo Bay block vindicates everything the Pirate Party has said on site blocking all along."

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