Internet Censorship -- Whether By Gov't Or Parents -- Has Downsides

from the it's-called-censorship dept

Jon sent over an opinion piece in the Boston Globe, written by Harvard professor Harry Lewis, discussing the slippery slope of dangers related to internet censorship. He notes a number of recent stories of various governments in the US and around the world that move down that slope -- having governments trying to define what sort of information is "harmful" and banning it. However, as Lewis notes:
Determining which ideas are "harmful" is not the government's job. Parents should judge what information their children should see - and should expect that older children will, as they always have, find ways around restrictive rules.
From there, he notes that the growth of moral panics leading parents to overreact to "threats" of kids online can be just as bad for kids:
Yet for every child caught talking to a pedophile online, hundreds would be discouraged from searching the Internet's vast electronic library for truths their parents will not tell them.

Controlling every word children are saying and hearing, from birth to age 18, isn't child protection; it's the perfect preservation of prejudice and ignorance.
While there probably isn't too much new or different for Techdirt readers, it's still a good read.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    abba12, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 12:13am

    Here in Australia they're planning to implement a national filter. Not much infomation is being given, they're trying not to make it publicly known, but this is what I've gotten so far

    The filter will have two parts, automatically you have one that bans material not suited to children. Why are parents completely incapable of speaking to and supervising their children! Parents have no responsibility for children anymore, they just dump them at day-care in the morning and bring them home to watch TV and go on the computer at night. The government raises our children with their idea of right and wrong, they're no more than a pet for parents anymore.

    You can opt out of this child filter by calling, but you will still be filtered from X-rated, illegal, and 'inappropriate' content. What they deem as inappropriate we are unsure, but the possibility is frightening. I hate it on the principle of the matter. Scientific websites that give direct instructions for bombs, they'll probably be gone. What about conspiracy and antigovernment websites? Hardcore porn will be gone (hardcore is illegal everywhere here but the northern territory and ACT anyway). Any websites depicting particularly brutal acts will be gone (Who decides wether the content is for educational purposes?) The ability to block torrents, and even free music that is MEANT to be free but easily misinterpreted will probably go overtime.

    Best part is, the major ISP here seems to block direct connections (something about the way the wiring works, I don't understand it but I'm told it all runs through one wire then separates and there is a firewall or something attached to that) which means that, in my experience so far, Proxy’s aren't useable on it, and many places have no choice but to use this service.

    I hate my country... but I hate Obama more... Anyone from the UK wanna marry me in? Cute Aussie Female Geek looking for visa!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Yosi, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 1:15am

    You wrong Mike.

    The whole idea of "being parent" is to decide what your child is going to read, see or hear.
    It's about setting the rules and enforcing those rules. No porn at home. Don't like it - tough luck. I have nothing against the porn, but I don't going to bring it home.

    And btw, there's nothing wrong in "find a way around the block".
    If my son want/can find a way around the filter - more power to him:) I hope he will spend time in investigating how hack the filter (learn some programming, networking, searching net, etc) instead of watching porn.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Steven, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 1:44am

    Hey im also from Aussie Tasmania to be more persific
    you let me just expand on abba12's statement
    there are removing pro-abortion websites pro-anorexia websites, medical websites that mention either of the two as being positive or at least discusing it with out bias. The inapropriate meterial is based on what the minority mp's wants removed so the big guns can get this approved which means the media companies will get a say no doubt meaning bit torrent sites will be removed i also heard some political sites and sites "supporting terrorism" will go hardcore porn (Porn witch shows penetration for those of you that dont know what hardcore is), fetish sites hardcore or not there gone, group sex is also gone we do however get to keep our imagination
    since being gay is strongly frownd upon in australia gay sex and discution on pro-gay marrage will also go and thats just on the everyone filter you cant get out of what will both filters on leave you will google search
    Results 0 - 0 of about 18,280,000,000 for anything.


    this filter is going in the wrong direction it isnt going to stop the production of child assult/porn nor stop those that want to watch it all it is going to do is make it harder to find those that want to watch it

    in the news about 3-4 months ago there was a website found which had child porn on it something like 40 people were caught every one from bums to primary school teachers if this filter goes through say goodbye to ever catching people like them again. they will just find a way around the filter weither it be via a new transfer program or something else and they will not get caught as easly

    but what i dont understand is the stance that the gov. is puting on this its to protect the childern from child porn
    not protect them from being in child porn but from them looking at child porn. now you cant just go to google and type in child porn its someting that needs to be hunted down due to it not being acceptable by socity and rightfuly so, but what im getting at is how many childern out there can turn on a computer and find child porn and if they are smart enough to do that do you realy think there dumb enough to get caught behind a firewall?

    sorry for the long rant hope it all makes sense

    and to Cute Aussie Female Geek the uk isnt any better that austraila trust me ive been there and i wouldn't go back

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    jalaj, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 1:52am

    Re:

    How Cute? :P

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    mike allen, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 3:14am

    Re:

    Didn't think it was implemented yet i hate to tell you but the UK may be next to try this Brown has already said as much. however if you still interested in the uk Im free as they say.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 5:13am

    Sounds like a good ole book burning to me. The really scary part is the government getting into the thought police business. Since when do we serve the government? It is here to serve us (at least in the US).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 5:29am

    Re:

    To expand on this; consider that this tool will most likely be used for people control a la China.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    You seem to already something in place that filters punctuation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 8:20am

    Re:

    Really, you hate Obama? Why? What does he have to do with where you live? And honestly, who gives a rat's ass what you think about Obama? Sounds like maybe you just like to hate.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 13th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    Re: Re:

    You don't exactly sound like you are full of love either.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Raymond Purdell, Oct 31st, 2009 @ 12:12pm

    internet sensorship

    I thought the Internet was going to be totaly unsensored.It is a shame that a person canot have a forem where their speach is not controlled by Governments or others.And this is America Ha.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This