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

from the thinking-it-through dept

As Tim Cushing has 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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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 3:13am

    Voluntary, when coming from a government, is akin to a gun in the hands of a miscreant in the external world. This attempt to circumvent the legalities of the situation is abhorrent, and Ms. Perry should resign - not, I assure you, in disgrace, but because she claims to have a high moral fibre in this situation.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 3:18am

    what should happen with this is the same as the Prime Minister in Poland did when this same approach was suggested for use there. 'he took it out the back and shot it' i believe was the comment used. he further added that this is not the right way to tackle anything on-line that the governments dont like

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 4:21am

    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.

     

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  4.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 4:28am

    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.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Howard (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 5:00am

    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.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 5:43am

    Re: Re: UK citizens

    Well said. Rather have teenagers watching porn than having sex. And young children should not be on the internet without adult supervision.

     

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  7.  
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    MaxPower, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 5:55am

    Im Confused

    Isnt porn on the internet already "opt in", since you have search for it and then click on a hyperlink to view it? Its not like when I boot my PC, porn begins streaming to my desktop.

     

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  8.  
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    BentFranklin (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 6:31am

    What about porn websites hosted in UK? Are they to be shut down?

     

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  9.  
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    Lamont Briggs, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 6:40am

    Scary...

    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.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    Re: Im Confused

    The government is trying to prevent children opting in to porn. However open WIFIs that opt out of the filter defeats the governments purpose, and can be used to attract children for various nefarious purposes.

     

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  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 8:44am

    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.

     

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  12.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 9:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Im Confused

    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.


    That's a really good analogy of this situation.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 10:35am

    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

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 11:53am

    Ed Milliband could earn serious brownie points if he simply says he will undo any censorship that cameron puts in ON DAY ONE if he's elected.....

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Monkey (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    Syntax ?

    "Because there is will be no legislation..."


    I think the "is" needs to be removed ? o_O

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Im Confused

    I sure as hell don't want my children being educat.... indoctrinated by my government. I plan on teaching my child to pretty much think the opposite of what they think.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:34pm

    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.

     

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  18.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 30th, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Re: Scary...

    Having a valid CC # does not actually prove age. Anyone can get a prepaid credit card.

     

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  19.  
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    Glyn Moody, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 3:20am

    Re: Syntax ?

    thanks, fixed.

     

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  20.  
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    DP, Jul 31st, 2013 @ 11:41am

    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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