David Cameron Says People Aren't Radicalized By Poverty Or Foreign Policy, But By Free Speech Online, So ISPs Agree To Censor Button

from the censor-now! dept

A few years ago, we mocked then Senator Joe Lieberman’s request that internet companies put “report this content as terrorist content” buttons on various types of online content. The plan went nowhere, because it’s a really bad idea, prone to massive abuse. Yet, over in the UK, some apparently think it’s such a grand idea that they’re actually moving forward with it. This isn’t a huge surprise — the current UK government has been going on for quite some time about banning “extremist” content, and just recently ramped up such efforts.

And now it appears that a bunch of big UK broadband access providers have agreed to play along:

The UK?s major Internet service providers ? BT, Virgin, Sky and Talk Talk ? have this week committed to host a public reporting button for terrorist material online, similar to the reporting button which allows the public to report child sexual exploitation.

They have also agreed to ensure that terrorist and extremist material is captured by their filters to prevent children and young people coming across radicalising material.

I love the term “radicalising material” as if it’s the material itself that has the power to magically turn mild-mannered Brits into violent jihadis just by appearing on their screens. That’s not how it works. Yet some have such an irrational fear of the power of words we disagree with that it must be prevented from anyone ever seeing it.

Also, the comparison to child porn is a common one, but wrong. Images of sexually exploited children are not a judgment call issue, for the most part. It’s an obvious thing. “Extremist” material or “terrorist” material, on the other hand, is almost entirely subjective. And, over time, the definition of what counts always seems to expand, rather than contract. And that doesn’t even take into account how many people will simply choose to use such buttons to try to censor any sort of content they dislike.

David Cameron seems quite excited about turning an open and free internet into a closed and censored space, where only content he likes is allowed:

Addressing a special sitting of federal parliament, Cameron said: ?We must not allow the internet to be an ungoverned space?.

Why? What’s wrong with letting people speak their minds? The whole “terrorism!” claim is overplayed:

?In both our countries we have seen some of our young people radicalised, going off to fight in Iraq and Syria, and even appalling plots to murder innocent people back in our own countries.?

Yes, but perhaps you should look at the root causes of why that’s happening? But Cameron insists it can’t possibly be poverty or UK foreign policy:

?And let us be frank. It?s not poverty, though of course our nations are united in tackling deprivation wherever it exists. It?s not exclusion from the mainstream. Of course we have more to do but we are both successful multicultural democracies where opportunities abound.

?And it?s not foreign policy. I can show you examples all over the world where British aid and British action have saved millions of Muslim lives, from Kosovo to Syria ? but that is not exactly the real point. In our democracies, we must never give in to the idea that disagreeing with a foreign policy in any way justifies terrorist outrages.?

Hmm. So disagreeing with foreign policy cannot justify terrorist outrages… but, apparently it can justify blatant censorship. Because, apparently, the only possible reason why people are radicalized is because they read something on the internet. David Cameron insists that’s the case:

The root cause was in fact the ?extremist narrative?, Cameron said.

This meant ?we must ban extremist preachers from our country, we must root out extremism from our schools, universities and prisons?, as well as dealing with the internet.

So he presents no actual evidence, but completely waves off poverty and disagreements over UK foreign policy as being non-factors — and then automatically assumes that the problem is “extremist” speech online? Incredible.

And the end result is pure censorship. How long until calling it censorship is considered an “extremist” position as well?

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Comments on “David Cameron Says People Aren't Radicalized By Poverty Or Foreign Policy, But By Free Speech Online, So ISPs Agree To Censor Button”

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Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This will not end well. It will be hilarious in it’s failures, but I really see no way it can end well.

Sure it can. A large group of people could report a large number of government website pages as “radicalizing” or otherwise offensive content, flooding the system and causing collapse.

Everyone outside of government has a good laugh. That sounds like a good ending to me.

Anonymous Coward says:

Also, the comparison to child porn is a common one, but wrong. Images of sexually exploited children are not a judgment call issue, for the most part. It’s an obvious thing.

Actually, it’s not.

The term child porn is so horribly subjective here.

Last month a guy was prosecuted for having lolicon because apparently “drawings are people too.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not to mention artistic merit standards special pleading. The 1968 Romeo and Juliet would technically qualify as child porn due to a brief scene of the naked breasts of the underaged actress. Of course no one would go after it for two reasons one. One is Hollywood connection, and two is that going after a movie based upon classic literature like that would get them branded as philistines and turn every liberal arts professor and english teacher in the country against them.

Deputy Dickwad says:

Re: Proposal: extra buttons

“I would like to have a ‘Jew’ and ‘Gay’ warning button as well.”

Well said citizen!

However one must use the proper terminology, or face the prospect of me seeing “Furtive Movements” or “Not Complying with a Lawfull Order” at which point you’ll get the hardwood shampoo, or high-velocity lead poisoning!

Back to proper terminology I believe the buttons need to be labled “Kike” and “Faggot”.

Just so there is no confusion you know.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: This is an affliction of all humans.

Extremist or not, we all tend to presume that our own perspective and conclusions are the true ones (or at least less wrong).

I suspect that the more enlightened approach would be to presume that there is some legitimacy behind all other perspectives and cultures, even those that are particularly belligerent or wasteful or xenophobic or lazy or crazy or whatever.

Ideally, we would find a community structure that accommodates the rights amd needs of all peoples, including ones that are barking mad, so that there is no unresolvable conflict. Possibly a Sisyphusean endeavor.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: This is an affliction of all humans.

“to presume that there is some legitimacy behind all other perspectives and cultures, even those that are particularly belligerent or wasteful or xenophobic or lazy or crazy or whatever.”

Yes, this. It’s a key part of learning how to get along with other people — the ability to understand (with the knowledge that it’s possible to understand without agreeing).

As the old saying goes, everyone seems crazy when you don’t understand their point of view.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: A time to kill, a time to heal

I dont think revolutions have a flashpoint per se. Revolutions often begin as independent acts of retaliatory criminal behavior against the state or status quo. Arguably, Eric Frein’s attack on two police officers was such an act.

When their frequency becomes enough to challenge the responding agencies’ ability to manage them all, the revolution has begun. And usually the rebels have detected each other and organized.

Revolutions are dangerous to begin, and revolutionaries are often tortured, humiliated and killed by state or state-allied forces. Expect room 101. Expect to be forced to recant and praise Big Brother on international video.

Revolutions also can never be fully put down. Tyrants never sleep well.

Claire Rand says:


Dare say this has a lot more to do with information circulation about several senior political figures in the UK and an unhealthy attraction to children, and to a report into the Iraq war that seems to have gone ‘missing’ in some long grass. Oh yes and the way reports of MP expenses a few years back surfaced and just won’t go away.

Dare say also the various ISPs agreed knowing full well how the majority in the UK will use it – on just about any and every website – indeed can see a time in the not too distant future where someone gets a collar grabbed for reporting government websites a bit too often.

Or a Firefox plug in that reports just about every website you visit, or every ‘n’ sites anyway.

Political climate in the UK is shifting and the encumbents of all colours are uneasy about it and the somewhat mocking nature of political reporting here, many would like to wind the clock back a good few years to when people found out only what they were told.

It won’t work, this idiocy never does, and this idiot keeps trying, the Home Office is even worse no idea what it is they do to people who work there that turns them all into lunatics. ISPs sound like they are giving up, and will give the Government exactly what they ask for – no more, no less, but exactly whats requested – in the full knowledge it won’t work and will cause yet more ridicule in the run up to the elections next year.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: issues..

Dare say also the various ISPs agreed knowing full well how the majority in the UK will use it – on just about any and every website …

That’s how I’d use it. You could be telling your granny what today’s episode of Sponge Bob was about, and I’d click it. Corrupting that gov’t database with false positives would be the best thing for it.

Fair warning to all, if they ever roll this out here, I’ll report everything and anything. I’ll go out of my way to create multiple on-line personalities and use every open network connection I can find to anonymize my actions. I’ll report my mother given the chance.

How these numbskulls can think ideas like this have the merit of a second’s thought, I can’t imagine.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: issues..

“Corrupting that gov’t database with false positives would be the best thing for it.”

But remember, all prospective false positive generators, you will not be clicking anonymously. They know who you are (the NSA will tell them if GCHQ can’t keep up). You will be in that database too, as an extremist sympathiser engaged in interfering with lawful government. And you know what that makes you (hint, it begins with a t).

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: issues..

Corrupting that gov’t database with false positives would be the best thing for it.

… you will not be clicking anonymously. They know who you are …

Which is why we should be getting the word out to all our friends to do likewise.

Cameron’s probably just trying to find something to deflect criticism of what his buddies in the city have been pulling in Luxembourg. Did you hear how his dad earned the family fortune? Tax havens.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Untermenschen button.

Essentially we should have a button to report discussion of issues that proper upstanding citizens should not care about.

Thoughtcrime if you will.

A study was done regarding all the web-content filtering software (they all use the same databases of evil sites) that would filter out “hate sites” except when the rhetoric was anti-gay by a well-funded church. When the same text was transferred to an independently owned site and “gays” changed to some other hate target, the companies would add those sites to the list, but even when shown that the big churches rhetoric was identical, they wouldn’t screen for the language.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "Radicalizing Material" is political speech

The UK doesn’t even have an equivalent thing to Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms ? Because I see that document (embedded to the 1982 constitution) as even more powerful that the Bill of Rights (it’s a lot more modern).

The country that I’m a subject to, still, is less socially advanced than its colonies, hilarious.

Anonymous Coward says:

Cameron also insisted that at his start of web censorship was so as ‘to protect the children’ when in actual fact, it was to sucker up to Obama even more by showing how he (Cameron) was being his ‘bestest buddy’ and getting free speech in the UK thrown completely out the window! he also showed how he could stop the sharing of files by getting particular websites blocked, websites that just happened to be on an entertainment industries list of hated entities! what has not been shown in the UK is how many file sharing websites have been blocked in relation to how many ‘child porn sites’, or ultimately how many children have been saved!
move on to today and we read how yet another child porn case is headlines in the UK. when Cameron started his supposed ‘protect the children’, i bet he didn’t expect to get the shit that’s being thrown around now to come to the surface! the implications of senior military and political figures being involved, even running the show, it’s gonna be interesting to see how it all unfolds!! be even more interesting to see how it affects him and the government in power at the moment!

Anonymous Coward says:

Cameron's own opinions

Actually Cameron’s own opinions are the real problem. The religion that he described as “good”, when in the majority in a state, has no problem with censoring everything that criticises it.

So long as you regard the problem as being only a fanatical fringe then you have disarmed yourself for the main battle. The problem is that you cannot argue against the fanatical fringe without saying things that upset the mainstream. Then your only weapon is to try and shut the fringe up with censorship.

Cameron should look at his predecessor, Winston Churchill’s, views on the issue.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

“they will go after the people who pushed the button.”

The “good people” will suffer no consequence for clicking on things they do not like, however, those “bad people” will feel the full wrath of justice if they even think about defiling the pristine websites of the great benefactors.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

but how will they know who “the good people” from “the bad people” at the end of the day the “great benefactors” will arrest anyone who use it even if they are reporting real “extremist” websites (also people will keep defiling the pristine websites of the great benefactors for years to come just wait and see)

Dave says:

I don’t agree that speech should be censored, but to flat out say that extremist speech online doesn’t create extremists is naive.

This speech is just a form of advertising. Advertising is designed to condition customers, and motivate them to buy now. I don’t see how this is any different. It turns looky-loos into buyers. Or rather potential extremists into actual extremists.

Okay where’s my evidence? Where’s your evidence that solving poverty solves extremism. At best you’ll get “it’s a contributing factor” just like extremist speech online is a contributing factor.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

extremists speech does not create extremists.

Everyone is an extremist because it, like art, is all in the eye of the beholder. A wise person knows that attempts to define what is extreme, is the very nature of it.

Propaganda is just the attempt to find, and push a person’s ‘fuck it all’ button so they willingly step into the abyss. Everyone has that button… and when it is found people can go flipping bat-shit crazy! Our very lives are a testament to how well some of us keep the button well hidden and un-pushed.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Corellation between poverty and extremism

There is a long-standing historical correlation between oppressive regimes or bad governance and insurrection. In fact the most common advice from historical experts on counter-insurrection is to address the grievances.

Impoverished citizens tend to have more grievances, and will, if they cannot do without, engage in crimes of necessity in order to survive.

When there is enough of such crime that it organizes, you have a burgeoning revolution. That’s extremism.

Even if the extremist message is we’re hungry, and the police are raping our daughters and shooting our sons that’s still extremism.

Dave says:

Re: Re: Corellation between poverty and extremism

No doubt there is correlation between poverty and extremism. I’m not debating that. But I would also conjecture that there is correlation between extremism and religion, culture, non-democratic governments…and propaganda/speech.

And again, I’m not advocating censorship. If you take my analogy of propaganda as advertising, the way to combat your competitor’s advertising is to first understand the customer’s buying motives, and then to advertise how your product is better.

I would also argue that your definition of extremism is incorrect. Extremism is not a complaint about conditions, it is a call to action in which the action is neither proportional to, nor ethically consistent with the complaint.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: My extremism is not your extremism.

in the eighties, I was an extremist for listening to rock-‘n’-roll and playing AD&D since both were, at the time, obious vectors to Satanism.

I don’t think you and I could agree to what are proportional responses to certain grievances, let alone those from other cultures or, say, Mr. Cameron.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Corellation between poverty and extremism

“correlation between extremism and religion, culture, non-democratic governments”

LOL – non-democratic governments, like that magically makes things all non extreme.

“Extremism is not a complaint about conditions”

It depends upon who is doing the name calling. Obviously those in charge are going to call all in opposition extremists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The internet has resulted in a hemorrhaging of soft power from the old (20th century) regime.

We are no longer captive audiences to the corporate-state propaganda machine. The state can no longer contain
and control information. It can no longer control narratives. It can no longer keep it’s dirty secrets buried.

The moves toward authoritarianism in recent years are desperate attempts by these bloodsuckers to hold onto power.

But we have been indoctrinated to believe in “freedom and democracy” for a long time. People will not tolerate this nonsense for much longer.

Your sense of hopelessness is unwarranted. Your depression, counterproductive. Stand up!

Anonymous Coward says:

“And it’s not foreign policy. I can show you examples all over the world where British aid and British action have saved millions of Muslim lives, from Kosovo to Syria”

This is ludicrously disingenuous considering that Cameron’s government led a ‘crackdown’ on charities and aid workers travelling to and from Syria; including the investigation of charities, police harrasment, and even going so far as to threatening to void citizens’ passports. All whilst pushing for sending more weapons and making an arguement in parliment for air strikes.

The message this government has sent, loud and clear, is that we’ll bomb you or add more weapons into an already deadly mix but food parcels will not be tolerated. As a nation we’re continuing to create far better recruitment materials than a few ‘slickly-edited’ YouTube videos.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The British “upper class” has a long and proud tradition of lying and backstabbing whenever it suits them. Even “the greatest statesman of history”, Churchill, sold out Eastern Europe at Yalta when it suited them. It’s very odd today to watch the US fawn over the British royalty. It’s not at all odd to watch the British gov’t fawn over US imperialism and its military power.

trinsic (user link) says:

“Yet some have such an irrational fear of the power of words we disagree with that it must be prevented from anyone ever seeing it.”

God Masnick its not the power of the words. its the power of people they are trying to control. You put too much stock in peoples intentions. There is a movement to deliberately control populations across the globe. Have you seen “Century of the Self” yet?

joncr (profile) says:

Facile and Shallow

Blaming terrorism on foreign policy and poverty is facile. How to explain being poor and not agreeing with a nation’s foreign policy and *not* becoming a terrorist? How to explain *not* being poor and becoming a terrorist? (Bin Laden was born into extreme wealth, and kept it.)

And, shame, Oh Shame!, on David Cameron for proposing a policy despite Techdirt trashing it some months ago. Some flunky must have forgotten to put hard copy in the PM’s briefing book.

(Hmmm? By the logic of this column, I am now motivated to launch a DDOS attack on this site. Right? After all, jumping straight to crime when wh don’t like something is only natural.)

desertspeaks says:

Government lies do not hold up to any amount of scrutiny!

Cameron said: “We must not allow the internet to be an ungoverned space”.
Translation; we’re losing our grip on the minds of the serfs, they are beginning to wake up and realize what pathological lying murderers we are! WE’RE AFRAID OF THE INTERNET! WE MUST CONTROL THE MESSAGE!

Alien says:

censorship == evil ; always...

” Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety “.
Benjamin Franklin. (Imho one of the greatest Americans ever ! 🙂

*ALL* totalitarian/dictatorial regimes started there evil power mongering by installing censorship, as a (preemptive) measure against (any and all) opposition…

Besides that, the fact, allegedly, some people (a very, very, very small minority) are abusing Freedoms and Rights, is absolutely no justification to abolish these Freedoms and Right, nation wide…

The Freedom to speak your mind and criticize your leaders/politicians (without fear of being arrested, etc.) is one of the very essentials of a civilized, *Democratic* society.

youknowme says:

free speech

If techdirt cares about free speech online in UK and elsewere such policies of war on hated free speech are deployed against population , then it should go all the way and report the full truth of the matter , which is it’s the jews behind the war on free speech and truth .
The jews and assisting them in the NWO freemasons are waging war on the hated by them free speech and truth.

Anonymous Coward says:

BT, Virgin, Sky and Talk Talk 

It is becoming INCREASINGLY obvious the the “major” isp’s are in bed with the uk government, exchanges have obviously been made, if it were just one, fair enough, but its a concerted effort to “do as they say”

Now folks who disagree with uk’s government actions are’nt gonna want to sign up nor support with their wallets these isp’s that wont say no or at least argue, instead of submitting…….so this folks will likely, eventually go looking for isp’s that do, and they’re still out there, isps that WONT implement these, barring a complete lack of lawlessness from uk government to NON SUBTELY force them

So what does that mean…….it means the government is herding the kind of pro government subcribers to an isp that is pro government, and then giving them the opportunity to give the government what they want, the illusion of support from those they’ve dellusioned

Think for yourselfs, make your own damn choices…..dont default to supporting something the government peer pressure WANTS you to support, unless you agree with every aspect of it, stop with the here, now mentality, patience for the right person, right promises, right action “is not a crime”

Believing in humankind and freedom from leaders without choice is not a crime, ……where are our leaders of integrity, our leaders of human rights above all………you wanna know why people are ill-content…..its because there are none, or their not shown, or are demonized by the status quo for their common sense arguments

Truth is treason, in the empire of lies

Dont hit that invade my privacy terrorist button to hard, you might hurt yourself………

Anonymous Coward says:

Im gonna make a stab in the dark and say, the’ll be a big drive to keep whats censored secret, so people dont find out they’re censoring things that have nothing to do with boggeymen

Its the wmd of the internet, excessive panic resulting in over reach in power……..and when the current flavour of panic is all done and settled, our “leaders” end up with new shiny “toys”

Rinse, repeat, rinse repeat………the only thing their after, are the people exposing the rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat

Anonymous Coward says:

creating a justification system, what would it look like if the uk government supposedly started arresting “suspicious” individuals, who are’nt “towing the line” of the status quo, lets say, for instance

Well whats that gonna obviously look like, for obviously being what it obviously is, persucution

Now what if, now what if, they build an illionary system, where now, they can go after whoever they like and justify that its the will of the people

Oh, thats assuming that whoever they censor has has a higher proportion of being “investigated”………

Now how can i go about arresting these “extremist” without me looking like the bad guy i am, mmmmmmm?

Says i

Anonymous Coward says:

How do major british ISP’s even force buttons into browsers, do their isp’s still all work with proprietary service to connect you to the internet? pppoe dsl? lmao, what about Virgin, they’re cable modem service providers, i’ve been on 3 different cable modem services and there was never any software to install, no cd’s, zitch nothing.

At any rate, I encourage british people to push the button when visiting the conservative party website and to share links everywhere about Cameron’s proof of Freemasonry (basically Satanism), child sacrifices of the british family (they really liked to do it with native canadians the queen and prince phillip would fly to canada in our disgusting “residential schools”, read concentration camps for the children of native canadians, which have injuctions against digging next to them, because it is widely known that there are mass graves of children where those church of england sponsored schools (only banned in 1996), I digress, just share the most links possible about Cameron’s freemasonry satanic links.

I’m still trying to weight in who’s worse, Harper or Cameron, hopefully both get the booth in less than a year (elections in October in canada, finally, with a re-established Liberal Party, I’d be okay with a minority gov for the liberal and the NDP as opposition, even central canadians are getting sick of Harper, we’ve suffered long enough.

Sad for my aussie friends though that this cancer called Abbott is back and crazier than ever.

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