Another Problem with UK's 'Nudge Censorship': No Clear Accountability

from the thinking-it-through dept

As Tim Cushing has <a href=”>noted, David Cameron’s half-baked plan to make online pornography opt-in in the UK has continued to earn him ridicule around the world. Despite that fact, there is already talk about extending this censorship approach to a host of other completely legal areas. The UK Open Rights Group (ORG), which discovered that slide into general censorship, not just of porn, has published another post which points out a further reason why what they call “nudge censorship” — using default blocks that require a conscious opt-in to remove — is so dangerous: the lack of clear accountability:

DCMS [the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport] and [crusading MP Claire] Perry have been pushing both network filtering and ‘nudge censorship’ onto ISPs. ISPs have agreed; now those of us who think government has got it wrong have nobody clear to pressurise.

Because there will be no legislation that specifies how all these blocks are to be imposed, or on what, the public seems to have no recourse for when things go wrong — as is bound to happen. In particular, ORG asks the following questions about the current vague and unworkable plans:

1. Are ISPs responsible for incorrect blocks?

2. Are ISPs financially liable for incorrect blocks?

3. What happens when government suggests that ‘terrorist content’ be blocked with not ‘opt out’?

4. Are ISPs responsible for adopting the nonsense ‘preselected censorship’ policy — as it is not official government policy, but apparently the personal position of Claire Perry and DCMS heads such as Maria Miller?

5. Will Claire Perry continue to have a personal veto on the nature of broadband set up screens?

The debate will doubtless continue, but ORG’s analysis does highlight one thing: the danger of moving to “voluntary” schemes for tackling difficult problems in the online world, rather than crafting new legislation, since they offer little in the way of formal debate or checks and balances.

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Comments on “Another Problem with UK's 'Nudge Censorship': No Clear Accountability”

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Anonymous Coward says:

UK citizens

I’m afraid that discussing mitigation details is already too much of an acceptance on this proposed implementation of an overall censorship tool of all UK users. Opt-in, opt-out, porn or else, what does it matter? UK government control over internet and the UK population is what is sought here.

The bluff is so lazy and blatant that it’s showing how much contempt Cameron has for the UK citizens intelligence and freedom.

Anonymous Howard (profile) says:

Re: UK citizens

I think intelligent adults should need no other “opt-in” for porn than typing something salacious in their search engine.

As for horny teenagers, well.. better watch it than do it (with someone else), right?

Kids? Watch for your f**** kids yourselves! Parenting require devotion and attention. Don’t blame others for you being a lousy parent.

Ninja (profile) says:

This is one of the main issues we are dealing with nowadays in politics: lack of accountability. Who will judge the judges? Who will arrest the cops? Who will enforce laws on law makers?

This nonsense will move on regardless of how much opposition it amasses or flaws that are pointed because that’s how politics work nowadays. It either works for interests or it works for itself to get votes.

VPNs will be mandatory in the UK it seems. And in a disturbing quantity of other countries.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Im Confused

The government is trying to prevent children opting in to porn.

And that’s the problem. The internet cannot be made safe for children without destroying the aspects of it that make it the most useful.

It’s more like a city. If you wouldn’t let your child wander alone through the city streets, you shouldn’t let your child be on internet without supervision. The solution isn’t to make every city street child-proof.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Im Confused

The government is trying to prevent children opting in to porn

Yeah, because a government knows exactly what children should and shouldnt see …

it#s not like they could give parents (who actually should know their childs ant their cerebral maturity, or not bother having children at all) SUGGESTIONS instead of demanding that you have to be at least 567648000 seconds old to watch/hear/see/experience something.
But of course its much easier to pick some idiots from the street call them BBFC/USK/ESBR etc. and let them decide what is appropriate for the children or even adults of an entire nation

Lamont Briggs says:


The whole thing makes me pretty sick, and a little scared that this kind of blatant outright censorship is being attempted under the guise of ‘protecting children’. I am glad for the savvy of our population when it comes to getting past government restrictions though, and have no doubt that even if this goes into effect, the good people of England will figure out the best back doors to use. The number of products already out to assist are growing everyday with tons of proxy sites, and even browsers like the torch browser dedicated to accessing content and getting around restrictions. Hopefully this idea will die before taking effect, but if not, we will get around it…we always do.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Scary...

It will be a case of ask for the filter to be removed. If they do this like T-Mobile in the UK, this can be done by entering valid credit card details to prove age. Note, Some Mobile ISPs in the UK already have a porn filter, and their accuracy leaves a little to be desired.

DP says:

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing

It certainly seems that way for Cameron and his cronies. Don’t they realise that they are rapidly becoming (have become?) a worldwide laughing stock with their grandstanding and totally inept technically-illiterate posturing? Have they actually taken advice from people who actually know how the net works? Probably not because they would then know that what they are proposing is pretty well nigh on impossible to implement with any accuracy. Who is going to be sued first for blocking someone’s business site? The ISP or the government?

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