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Filtering out The Gunners? Maybe whoever is responsible for content guides over at Virgin Media is a Tottenham supporter

The minute individuals have to persuade a large company of something’s merits before they’re allowed to publish it is the minute internet innovation stops, the minute we don’t get the next Wikipedia

Jonathan Zittrain Harvard University


Internet Expert Group comprising lawyers, academics and other experts to advise on the best ways to go about it. Others are actively developing and distributing technologies to help people bypass internet censorship, such as the US government- funded Commotion Wireless project, which gives people open-source tools to set up their own distributed ‘mesh networks’ by linking together their wireless devices without going through a central ISP. On the other hand, we see these same governments not only failing to take a stand on the sale of Western censorship- enabling technologies to oppressive regimes, but also attempting to monitor and control what their own people can say and see online. Such measures, these governments contend, are necessary to prevent criminal activity such as the distribution of child pornography, the promotion of violence and hatred, or the piracy of copyrighted content. Among the proposals currently causing consternation among UK anti-censorship campaigners is the

upcoming Communications Bill, which will include new measures to make ISPs fi lter out potentially pornographic sites automatically by default “to protect children”. It will also put an onus on search engines, ISPs and other ‘intermediaries’ to prevent copyright infringement. Another is the UK Home Offi ce’s Prevent strategy, which would give security offi cials the right to censor websites deemed to be inciting terrorism, without any legal oversight or transparency. Jim Killock, director of the Open Rights Group (ORG), a UK organization defending internet freedom, says: “On one hand they’re trying to tell the rest of the world they need to respect people’s human rights by promoting internet freedom, but when it comes to our own democracy in the UK they tend to leap to censorship and surveillance as the fi rst port of call whenever there’s a perceived problem. It’s a reaction that fails to take into account real evidence or to address the practical implications, or whether the measures they’re proposing will do more harm than good.”

May/June 2012

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