back to article Net Suicide Bill would breathe life into government censorship

Government moves to reduce the availability of suicide sites on the internet may herald a new era of online censorship in the UK. Last week, Justice Minister Maria Eagle announced a review of the law on suicide. Citing the usual suspect – "public concern" – she said: "Protecting vulnerable and young people must be a priority and …

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Flame

Censorship has NEVER worked

When are these Nanny State types ever going to learn?

Censorship just makes it MORE exciting and more interesting and people will go to greater lengths to find it. This holds for alcohol, drugs, porn, and yes, even terror/suicide/racist websites.

I still don't understand why suicide is considered illegal.

It's a matter of personal choice and none of the state's business.

So, I guess Suicides-R-us.com will be moving to a Russian hosted server then and then our dear Nannies won't have any control over people accessing them.

Stupid Nannies!

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Anonymous Coward

heh

what a bunch of useless wankers - why do we have culture and sports ministers anyway? Shouldn't the soul purpose of a government be running the f----- country? If someone wants to talk about the best way to top yourself (a common conversation back at school, you'd be amazed at how many people wanted to go across the road instead of up the street.) But then nobody at my school topped themselves either - I think a few got hit by cars and died though.

Talking about suicide versus cars... well I know which ones more dangerous just by my example above.

Talking about suicide for 3 or 4 years of secondary school = 0 deaths.

Road accidents over 3 to 4 years = apprx 3 deaths.

So cars are infininatly more dangerous then words in this scenario.

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Stop

policing this?

Well I guess this sort of law needs "monitoring". Which means someone needs to see what sites people look at. That would be the reason for phorm/webwise then I take it?

Now it will be rolled out, no opt outs for " your protection"

Otherwise this will be enforced how exactly?

BT etc will claim they have to force this through now "to protect the children and ensure compliance with the law, and it will be on the backbone so no avoiding it.

Bets anyone?

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Suicide ideas?

Surely a medical textbook would do the job? Or a decently gory crime novel. I'd rather see people trawling sites & forums trying to talk to people & you know, actually *help* them, rather than stamp about in jackboots banning things.

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I AM the law

"the internet is not a lawless environment and that we can meet the challenges of the digital world"

The problem is one of jurisdiction; by international agreement, a countries laws only apply within the boundaries of the country. If you live in the UK, and the UK law allows you to buy alcohol at age 18, the US police cannot prosecute you because you are under 21.

There are further agreements between countries - this is where extradition comes about. If you murder a person in the states, then flee to the UK, the US police can ask the courts to allow you to be taken into custody and given over to their jurisprudence system. (Note that US police may NOT arrest you or take you into custody - they would be breaking UK law in doing so).

However, not all countries sign up to this and some pick and choose which laws they will allow this for. For example, some women in Eire choose to come to the UK for an abortion before returning home as it is legal in this country, but not in theirs. Technically the Garda could arrest them for this, but as the offence took place outside of their borders, they choose not to.

The problem with the Internet (which most policitians seem unable to understand) is that often the sites that host the material are outside of UK jurisdiction. The information can be carried across cables in the UK and they could then go after the supplier of the service, but not the actual site itself. they can try to get local police to do this; but as most of this sort of thing happens in areas where the police are actually getting paid hard cash by the individuals concerned, they probably are not going to get anywhere.

I think it is clear that this is yet another example of a politician that wants to be seen to "be doing something" even if they don't have a clue.

I believe the state of Tennessee once passed one that made Pi equal to exactly 3 to save all this messing about with funny numbers. This is probably on a par with that.

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Why not just buy censoring software from China?

We buy everything else there and New Labour should get along famously with the Beijing Politburo.

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Woo! Yaay!

The end of notgood content on the internets!

Sarcasm aside, I can sort of see their point even if I think they should leave the 'net alone- I don't think many people would complain if sites that _encourage_ suicide were banned. Sites discussing methods of killing oneself without actually encouraging it shouldn't be, though.

And euthanasia sites should be kept up too.

Essentially, the annoying emo-teenager style sites should be shut down- or, alternatively, given extra funding to make them more and more effective until finally they run out of customers...

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Bronze badge

Control or compassion?

Was Tim Berners-Lee's comment the other day, that something has to be done about disinformation on the internet, part of a PR pincer movement?

'Many' would agree with his suggestion of labelling 'trustworthy' sites, even though, as Reg readers pointed out, mostly this is impossible to achieve. 'Many' would also go along with Jacqui's ideas for policing the net in areas that they personally find despicable, even if this means restriction of freedom.

How long will it be before an announcement is made about use of combined data from the NHS, schools and the social services (and monitoring of browsing habits) to generate predictions of those who are at risk; and those who present a risk?

It needs people to solve social problems, not rules.

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Black Helicopters

Hadrian's firewall

No censorship of UK internet? Are the rumours of Home Office blacklists on Cleanfeed baseless then?

http://www.nowpublic.com/politics/uk-internet-censorship

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Anonymous Coward

Telling us what to think

Gordon would love that.

The idea of "protecting us" is an old scam. Canada has some anti-free speech bodies called the "Human Rights Commissions" which are being abused by Moslem groups to silence any criticism. The things were originally created after a few Neo-Nazi's appeared in the 70's.

But... it turns out that those "Neo Nazis" were actually led and organised by a stooge of the Canadian Jewish Congress. They knew that Canada was full of ex-servicemen who would be horrified. How better to get an Act passed that would end freedom of speech.

Of course this has come back to bite them. Today it is Jewish people being hauled in for "discussions" if they dare to say anything about Moslems. The blog by Ezra Levant details the "chilling" of free speech, and the techniques being used; he had the temerity to publish the Danish cartoons, and has been harassed and threatened for 3 years now.

Do we trust the establishment? Do we believe that their views are ours? Do we share their view that (e.g.) crime is unimportant unless it affects either them or favoured minorities? I think not.

We need to keep free speech. Pretending to protect us is merely a scam.

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Anonymous Coward

Naughty Chair

I reckon Britain is the Naughty Chair of Europe.

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Black Helicopters

Time for internet 2.0?

Yay for censorship!

The internet has been pretty much lawless for its whole life so far, and that is what's made it great. It's the one place that government haven't waded in crying "Protect the vulnerable! Think of the children!" and so we get the free exchange of all sorts of ideas, from the useful to the perverted and ridiculous.

Filtering and blocking this avenue of free and unrestricted speech should not even be on the minds of western governments. The fact that china is criticised for their effort to do the same should be more than enough to put them off. Of course there I'm ignoring the easy excuse "They are censoring, we are protecting!", but in the end it comes down to the same thing.

It's time for a distributed, encrypted net that routes around or through ridiculous propositions like these.

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Causes?

If someone is determined enough then he'll find a method to do himself in, whether or not a web site is blocked. Perhaps the government should be looking more to the social causes of suicide.

As a society now, is there much mention that our choices and actions have consequences on others, such as family, friends and aquaintances? It seems in this selfish age that even suicide is seen as a personal act that doesn't require too much consideration of others. It would be good to be wrong though.

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Silver badge

Can we vote for some sites to ban?

Here are my top three. They encourage killing people abroad and are sufficiently depressing that they could drive some people to suicide:

www.labour.org.uk

www.conservatives.com

www.army.mod.uk

The law is tight enough already. Successful suicide already carries the death sentence.

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Anonymous Coward

Censorship through DNS

I believe we should do everything in our powers to protect children against inappropriate internet content - personally I use OpenDNS which has the ability to hide adult content. Schools and public internet providers should use something like this as a matter of course, If you want to access adult or inappropriate content then, as an adult, thats fine for you to do so in the comfort of your own home. The technology exists already, people just need educating on how to use it, but eroding freedom of speech should IMHO be avoided.

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Pirate

What

What a load of twat and codswallop

"Idiocracy" at it's finest silliest bunch of wankers and wowsers at work that be for sure .

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NT

Legally Grey

It is a crime to encourage or incite suicide, or to directly assist someone to commit suicide. It is not - since the Suicide Act 1961 - a crime to commit or to attempt to commit suicide, to threaten suicide, or (and this is the bit that I'd say applies most here) to seek advice or discussion on the subject of suicide.

Yes, there are sites out there that glorify death and encourage morbidity (in the sense of an interest in death); but there are books, magazines, music, and whole subcultures that do the same thing. Whatever your feelings on such groups and attitudes, are we to have every goth, emo and vampire site removed as well, in case it romanticises death?

The government seem to believe that they can simply beat every problem out of existence by hitting it with their big legislation hammer, but this is a prime example of their misjudgement. People who seek out sites relating to suicide may find them of positive benefit. To take away a channel for discussion and empathy would be potentially very damaging. It might seem fair enough to say that they'll focus on sites that glorify or encourage suicide - but that's rather subjective, and in any case, removing or blocking such sites doesn't address the problem being experienced by those who would seek them out in the first place.

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Bronze badge
Coat

FOAD

Oops! Better go and present myself for re-education now...

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Flame

Stamp out Censorship

The only way to protect freedom of speach on the internet is to make Censorship illigal. Otherwise we will see polotitions constantly chiping away at free spach untill there is no free speach. Would censorship stop suicides, of course not but "attempting" to censor it will make a whole army of cival servants happy . Of coures the perpetrator of this trash will also get the cudos of doing somthig about it.

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Paris Hilton

Here's a suggestion

Whoever manages to gain access to the lists blocking specific internet sites and add at least ten major news sites (and the Sun) to the list should be promoted to godhood and given free beer and chocolate in heaven forever and ever amen.

Not that I suggest actually rewarding them but some nice high-profile backfiring of this censorship would be beneficial to all in society.

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Flame

Hmmm. Smells tasty.

The article actually mentions that they are researching companies with filtering software. How long before the content 'filtered' increases to other areas - for the public good, of course.

Hmmm. Some sites critical of UK gov't policies. Ban 'em - for the public good, of course.

Can anybody feel the heat yet?

(Flames because there's not boiling frog icon).

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Law
Flame

you could just

stop kids under 16 using the internet.... that should help protect the children, and help us from getting to a great firewall of china situation.

I know I know, the internet isn't all porn and suicide sites, but think of it this way - does having an age ban on drinks, smoking or making drugs illegal actually stop it? No. So why will censorship? Kids are more tech savvy than the previous generation, they can use proxies and all sorts... the gov have no chance of stopping people visiting these sites, so why the hell are our tax dollars going into more useless acts like this.

Better saving the money, and putting it into something useful, like a new coffee maker and waffle machine for Gordon Browns london flat or something.

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Thumb Down

hmmmmmm

here's a shock way of combatting this

stop treating people like shit! they might not want to kill themselves then!

or lets up the prices of energy (ok, not this govs fault par se), fuel, food, tax etc etc... lets eradicate all their civil rights too...

the way society is going i can only see the suicide rate going up and up...

"It is probable that the intention of government is no more than tightening up the law on suicide - its stated aim." so i guess the same way as the US when its illegal? then just lock them up in a padded room 'for their own safety' - yup - thats going to make them less depressed! or just fill them up with thorazine?

surely someone so depressed that they want to kill themselves wont care if its against the law?

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Boffin

Down not across

I guess alt.sysadmin.recovery is now a banned site!

I've had one lifestyle (hunt sabbing &c.) already legislated out of existence, then I turned to Pen Testing and they made that illegal. Now the support group for my latest activities is being made illegal. i'm going to become a council tax colelctor next, let's see them get rid of that !

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Black Helicopters

maby the tin hat is on to tight?

but

"The government has been working with a number of internet companies to develop filtering software to ensure that their products provide a high level of protection against illegal material that promotes or encourages terrorism".

can anyboady say phorm?

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censorship

What's next, superimposing big black squares over footage of people slitting their wrists in the movies? Typical UK government bs. When will they every deal with the *problems* instead of the *symptoms* ??

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"tightening the noose"

did you REALLY mean that piss-poor pun?

LOL though!

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Thumb Down

Frightening government stupidity

Ugh. The DCMS report on controlling internet risk mentioned in the article is truly frightening, showing an ignorance of technology, law, and logic. It's full of bizarre deductive leaps and confusion.

It's scarily pro-censorship but doesn't seem to have a clear idea what it's opposing: jumbling the entirely separate issues of preventing innocent children accidentally coming across unsavoury content and people (paedophiles, terrorists) deliberately seeking out illegal information or images, and slips in random references to cyber-bullying, unsafe chatrooms, paedophile grooming, and other concepts whenever they can be used to justify censorship. The word "potential" or "potentially" appears hundreds of times, and innocuous things (like Second Life) are condemned for "pos[ing] a potential risk to children in real life" - anything from cars to paracetamol pose a potential risk; a sane approach is not to ban anything potentially dangerous but to prevent potential risks from being realised.

You could offer some respect to minister Vernon Coaker, of whom it says: "Mr Coaker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, pointed out that it would be a significant step for the law to intervene in an area when no-one had been harmed and no children were involved." Though the very next paragraph points out that his concerns were entirely ignored.

It list the reasons why age verification doesn't work and the negative effects it has, before concluding that more sites should use age verification. It describes how proxies and encryption can be used to circumvent most ISP-level blocks and speculates that blocking technology could soon be rendered ineffective (if it isn't already) but still says the government should coerce ISPs to install such blocks whatever the cost. The fact that MySpace has hundreds of people verifying uploaded content is used as a reason why everybody should employ hundreds of people to do the same.

And companies who use the EC E-Commerce Directive (which makes companies non-liable for user-generated content in some circumstances) to avoid getting sued are told they should not "hide behind the law" (perhaps they feel people who're reluctant to kill paedophiles in the street are likewise hiding behind the law and failing to protect children).

The fact that it goes into raptures over Microsoft's time-lock on the X-Box, which is just a more complex and easily-surmountable version of parents physically picking up a console and locking it in a cupboard, shows how the members are bewitched by the possibilities of technology but utterly unable to assess its value.

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Maybe it's an urban legend, but

wasn't it the UK that had, in the seventies, a law that punished failed suicide attemps by ... a sentence of death ?

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Ash
Stop

Darknet

Start those peers running, folks. We're getting China's internet, now. The only difference is that we don't need a firewall or filter to stop us reading about political scandle; The BBC simply doesn't report it.

In the mean time, let's see if we can't get El Reg banned; DOWN THE ROAD, NOT ACROSS THE TRACKS.

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Black Helicopters

Stupid. Plain and simple.

Censorship doesn't work. People just find alternative ways to get to what they are looking for. Just like the stupid gun control laws - all they do is keep guns out of the hands of the law abiding and keep them in the hands of criminals.

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Anonymous Coward

Through the mist and fog I see

really if they want to kill themselves then hey perhaps that is not such a bad thing for the world, we are over crowded after all.

Oh and it is free speech, not speach or spach.

Kids are not tech savvy today, use of a proxy will more likely get you caught then not using a proxy.

Stop usage of the Net for any under the age of 40.

Then on their 40th birthday they have to pass a test to use the internet, which involves building three working applications in assembly based on protocols from the TCP/IP suite, with those they will be allowed to connect to the net.

Then if they need more programs, they will have to write them all themselves.

That will keep them from even thinking about topping themselves until at least their 31st birthday.

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Joke

Censorship depresses me

I'm going to kill myself now.

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Silver badge
Stop

Told you so...

Those of us who objected to the Governments plans to outlaw so-called "Extreme Pornography" were often accused of exaggeration or just being ridiculous when we said that if such a law was passed, it would open the door to even more ludicrous and draconian forms of internet censorship by a Control Freak Government.

Given that they haven't even been able to define *what* extreme pornography actually is, how do you think they're going to get on with defining "material that promotes or encourages terrorism" or "reducing the availability of suicide sites"?

Of course they have such a wonderful justification for this: "Protecting vulnerable and young people must be a priority and a responsibility for us all."

- Translation: We want to keep you scared and confused by passing laws which we claim will protect people, but which actually won't do anything of the sort. Meanwhile we're actually whittling away your liberties and freedoms one small step at a time until you're too afraid to do *anything* that might threaten our position.

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Good intentions

Having known someone who killed herself with advice/encouragement from the sick fuckers on alt.suicide.holiday, I'd like to see them all locked up and throw away the key. Unfortunately, there are all these legal issues in the way.

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One law for the rich and one law......

Since the Labour government came into office in 1997 they have introduced over 3600 new laws. Much of this avalanche of new legislation has in one way or another been directed at micro managing the lives of the citizens of this country by extending surveillance and diminishing or restricting rights we previously enjoyed. And we are told that all this is being done as part of the fight against terrorism: surrender your hard won rights and we will protect you. Sounds plausible, but just ask anyone in government to explain how the possession of a plastic ID card will protect you from a suicide bomber and you will be politely told to fuck off and do your duty as a citizen: believe the lies we tell and no harm will befall you.

Now, once again, it's the Home Office and Wacky Jacky Smith censoring internet content because nanny knows best and we stupid dullards need to be protected from ourselves. Note, however, that Smith's interference with our rights does not extend to protecting us from the billions of spam emails, the phishing scams, trojans and other malware that permeate the internet. That's because all this shit is being generated by wealth creators and eventually this will trickle down to the ungrateful peasants. Say, "Thank you, nanny Smith".

Meanwhile, back at the bookies shop where the wheels have fallen off in a pretty spectacular way you can see why people like Smith have enough time on their hands to enable them to micro manage the lives of private citizens. No regulation, no oversight, no supervision, and no governance for the spivs and wide boys in the financial markets.

Perhaps Monsignor Blair could put in a word with his boss and ask for absolution for all New Labour's sins on this earth.

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Linux

No words

For how spectacularly ridiculous this idea is. Every time I see stories like this I can't help but think that even Orwell would be shocked.

P.S. "Tighten the noose"??? Bad pun, but I still loled.

Tux... just cos.

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Black Helicopters

What really needs monitoring

Is the idiots who keep suggesting monitoring and suppressing whatever their "problem" of the day is; at any given moment. I'm frankly surprised that these folks are let out loose on the streets by themselves. Surely that can't be safe...think of the children (they might pervert with their strange thinking and ways!)...

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Happy

Wouldn't it be amusing if...

Whilst I would not condone and will not encourage any criminal act(s), would it not be most amusing if *.gov.uk were to be added to the Cleanfeed list of blocked sites, thereby blocking access to all government sites via the same system that Herr Vernon Croaker demanded be used?

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Boffin

@ Tony

Actually, it was Indiana, but you got the gist.

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NT

@ Laurent_Z

<< wasn't it the UK that had, in the seventies, a law that punished failed suicide attemps by ... a sentence of death ? >>

Not that I'm aware of. I believe the penalty for failed suicide attempts was imprisonment. But the Suicide Act - decriminalising suicide - was passed in 1961, so it certainly wasn't in the 70s.

As for the death penalty, the last execution in the UK was in 1964 and the death penalty itself was abolished in 1969; although it remained on the statute books for certain offences (notably treason and piracy) until 1998, it was never applied. After the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, it was removed from the books entirely. And a bloody shame, too.

It's strange to think, though, that the act that officially ended capital punishment in Britain was the same act that gave us the lamentably useless ASBO, and approved legislative racial discrimination in the form of 'racial aggravation'.

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banning book?

Are they planning on banning the book "Final Exit" by Derek Humphrey and the Hemlock Society? It recommends using alcohol to aid hypothermia. Happens by accident many times each winter anyway.

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Coat

@Tony

There is nothing wrong with defining pi as 3 provided you also define 1 as pi/3 and so on.

Reminds me of the windup we played on a new coder. Added the following line to stdlib.h on his machine:

# define if while

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Black Helicopters

Cleanfeed / IWF / Home Office

Given the "voluntary" nature of the ISP's relationship with the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), it is quite clear that the IWF is the Home Office in a skin.

I had a "discussion" with my ISP about their implementation of this when it started interfering with one or two things.

Firstly they claimed that it was to "comply with the law". But as indicated above and in the article, this is all "voluntary". (Aside - any bets that if the ISPs had not "volunteered", then BT Wholesale would have been commanded to?)(Another - any bets on how long until the use of quotation marks to indicate sarcasm is forbidden by law?)

Secondly they said that normally they have no access to the content of the list that is kept encrypted, though access is available under very tightly controlled and recorded circumstances. Each web page request is simply compared to the list for a yes no decision. I guess that means the request is encrypted and the match made between encrypted entities. This is done on a transparent Squid proxy. Well, transparent until it starts sending out error messages on its own account!

Thirdly, a request for a banned page is NOT refused with a "Forbidden Content" page like Websense or similar commercial offerings. Instead a "Page Temporarily unavailable" error is created. But of course with Squid in the system they could actually do anything they liked. Is that BBC News page that you are looking at really the same one that the BBC thought they sent out?

Can't help but think one will need a Home Office approved licence to run an encrypted Virtual Private Network before long. After all TotC (Think of the Children)!

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Alien

A title is required

>I believe we should do everything in our powers to protect children against inappropriate internet content<

I agree, don't let them on the 'net, solves all the problems in one, no grooming for peado's, terrorists or suicides.

Fire Jaquie Smith too, I think she's in the pay of the Illuminati, and stop bailing out banks. Let the chips fall where they may. Ferret out the perpetrators of the sub prime fiasco and fine 'em, take away their country mansions and stick that money back into the economy. Treat the citizens of the country like adults, not sheep and get on with running the country. Ensure one law for all and that it's maintained across all tiers of society.

Erase third world debt and cut defence spending (approx £32.6Bn last year).

Approx 60 million people live in UK, divide that by 32 billions pounds a year comes out to over £500 a year per person if I've got the sums right (32 billion divided by 60 million = 533.333333) - I'll take the cash please, no one's gonna invade us, we've got nuclear bombs.

Er, sorry, slightly off topic. Censorship bad!

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Black Helicopters

Ta Daaa!

And now you know what Phorm is for.

Not really black helicopters just very dark intentions I suspect.

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