Communicate

Opt-In Censorship: An Equally Dodgy Online Alternative

Communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy last week reminded us that internet filtering is still very much an item on the government’s agenda. That’s a worrying prospect, but it could be worse: the UK is contemplating a plan where access to all adult content would be ‘opt in’, with adult material blocked by internet service providers (ISPs) unless customers specifically ask for it to be switched on.

The plan, being pushed by UK prime minister David Cameron, hasn’t yet been formally presented to ISPs, and is likely to meet significant resistance when it is. Whatever the good intentions, it doesn’t take a genius to spot the many obvious flaws in this plan. Who maintains a list of “adult” content? What happens if content ends up on that list by default? Where does the line get drawn? Will the Sun‘s infamous page 3 girls be banned? And does any of it matter when setting up a VPN or using other privacy technologies to dodge the whole shebang is relatively straightforward?

Ultimately, opt-in seems just as bad as existing filtering proposals, with the added nastiness of creating a much larger blacklist (itself open to manipulation and abuse). Here’s hoping the plan doesn’t surface in the UK, and that it doesn’t give Mr Conroy any ideas.

Pornography online: David Cameron to consider ‘opt in’ plan [The Guardian]