back to article UK.gov to push Obama for tougher rules online

The culture secretary Andy Burnham has suggested the UK should lead an international effort to introduce cinema-style age ratings on websites to prevent children accessing "unacceptable" material online. In interviews with the Telegraph and BBC, published on Saturday, Andy Burnham said it should be easier for parents to control …

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Anonymous Coward

So how's this going to work?

Are we going to redirect all bookmarks, search engine results and embedded links to some top level page of each site (however you define a site) which then displays the certificate? And then the kiddie calls Mummy to come and have a look and clicks on the "this is ok for precious snowflake" button?

I propose a new form of democracy. Every year a random selection of people are made MPs. They're not paid. At the end of the year, if they want to stay, we shoot them.

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How is he still alive?

"There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech"

How has his head not exploded with cognitive dissonance? Does he not think about what he says for fear that if he really evaluated it he might go mad or, worse, have to admit he was wrong?

Twat.

"Burnham told the BBC any new rules would be run on a self-regulatory basis by the internet industry."

The internet industry? Lulz. the man clearly has no idea how any of this works and how anyone can publish any site they feel like. All they need is a net connection and a computer. Even one with windows will do. I think he thinks that all websites are controlled by some sort of broadcaster.

Perhaps someone ought to have a quiet chat with him about darknets.

"If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach."

That's because they saw you coming a mile off mate.

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"You can still view content on the internet which I would say is unacceptable"

Diddums.

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Black Helicopters

Just one comment...

Quis custodiet ipsos custodies?

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well that solves it

"You can still view content on the internet which I would say is unacceptable"

we just have a content less internet ands then he will be happy

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Anonymous Coward

Andy Burnham is 12.

Nothing to do with "the kiddies", "the terrorists" or general porn, it's all about us finding the "morally bankrupt politicians" out.

There should be a law against them.

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Mo
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So what happens when a new protocol comes along?

Even if you figure out a way to reliably, without destroying e-commerce in the process, 'rate' websites in a way which doesn't get broken as soon as the content changes, what happens to IRC channels, newsgroups, P2P networks, e-mail lists, SNMP connections, LDAP lookups, and every other application which uses the Internet? What happens when we don't use HTTP and HTML any more, and we don't have 'web sites'?

It's not that the creators of the Internet talked about something Governments can't touch (mainly because they were, er, government contractors), it's that they deliberately designed it to be open-ended and massively flexible. It's not that Governments can't touch it, it's that the only way they can control it in the manner that they'd like to is by destroying it, and that would do more harm to the economy than Woolies, Zavvi and Adams closing ever will.

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Flame

Once again....

The Labour government show that they just do not have a fucking clue about how the internet and the web works.

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mh.

Think of the Children!

Why is Andy Burnham giving interviews to the Telegraph rather than spending time with his family over Christmas? If he really allows his kids to roam free online when he's talking to journalists, perhaps it might be wise for him to re-evaluate his priorities.

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Err...

'Burnham said: "Leaving your child for two hours completely unregulated on the internet is not something you can do.'

Well, don't bloody leave them for two hours then! It'd be a lot cheaper (and more reliable) than trying to implement a technology solution...

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Joe
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I find NuLab unacceptable....

So can we ban all this bullshit they keep coming up with??

Listen to the guy talk, you can clearly tell he has no idea how the internet works. What next?

'Don't type Google into Google, warns Burnham'

Tosser

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The Internet is dead....

...Long live the Internet.

Why hasn't anyone just made a decentralised anonymous net that rides along side the current net but is not a part of it.

Let them have the old ancient monster while the the geeks and nerds have there promised land a land free of spam and pop ups

An open source land anonymised and decentralised

A new net a net without boundaries let the digital super highway full of traffic jams and cameras be washed away with a digital ocean.

What a dream

-J

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Anonymous Coward

why o why

Can't a terrorist just kill these fucking punts! Ahh I know why, these wankers are doing what terrorists want them to do, and the terrorists are helpling to keep the wankers in charge.

Good gig these wankers and terrorists have going.

As an aside wasn't that form of democracy suggested in a book once?

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Here's a challenge

What a stupid idea, particularly because the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) already exists and didn't work either.

This is just an excuse to 'dumb down' the net, and introduce censorship.

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I rather think

Barack Obama will be more concerned in sorting out the mess left by the Muppet who proceeded him, than to be concerned by the ideas of a soon to be jobless politician

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(untitled)

"'Burnham said: "Leaving your child for two hours completely unregulated on the internet is not something you can do.'"

neather is leaving your child for two hours on the highstreet or town center or shopping mall or park or a lot of other places just cos the internet gose into your house dose not mean it should be automaticley child safe

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No No No

This man has no idea how the internet works, and on that basis has no rights trying to make laws on things he doesn't understand. Please don't use the "won't somebody please think of the children" crap as it is up to the parents to look after them. If you don't want to let them see bad things then don't let them use the internet or at least supervise them like parents are supposed to do.

Anyway judging by the amount of parents that buy rated games for their underage children I'd argue that all this would do is add a bureaucratic layer and not achieve anything.

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Asda - rated 18

And you have to show ID if the face-recognition software thinks you look under 25. Well, they sell alcohol, and we don't want the kiddies to know what a bottle of beer looks like, do we?

"There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical."

Mine too, mate. Anything that you say, for a fucking start.

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@EvilJason

"Why hasn't anyone just made a decentralised anonymous net that rides along side the current net but is not a part of it."

Because it's really difficult?

If you want to see our best efforts so far then go look up stuff like Freenet, WASTE and TOR.

Be warned though, Freenet has content that many would consider really unsavoury and highly illegal. That's sort of the point I guess. I don't take part in it because I don't agree with my resources being used for stuff I don't control (and I'm currently trying to come up with an alternative approach that maintains anonymity and secrecy but takes back control).

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Anonymous Coward

Online Ratings

That's something I don't mind - I've said so before and I still think so. My concept of it's operation is that a rating is self-assessed and added to metadata of each protocol, except e-mail and instant messaging or similar "person-to-person" protocols. Some will criticise self-assessment, and, yeah, it's not perfect, but spot checks run by Ofcom (in the UK) or ACMA (in Australia), and whatever other agencies do those jobs elsewhere, can help "keep the system honest". Of course, the most important thing to make ratings work is to provide clear guidance on how to rate material. As to subordinate pages or frames, they can all have a rating in the metadata - I expect the default setting would be to inherit the parent rating. Therefore, bookmarks would be "rated" no matter where they pointed.

If we keep in mind that, although there are lunatics and criminals out there, the vast majority of internet page authors are reasonable people who, with a bit of convincing, could adopt a ratings system for content that they author - providing the standards and tools support making their adoption easy.

Ratings (again, although not perfect) would allow fast filtering of a great deal of content which makes other filtering less resource-intensive.

Yes, it is an imposition, but ratings do not of themselves limit free speech .... PROVIDED THAT NO SERVICE PROVIDER CAN BLOCK MATERIAL OUTRIGHT WITHOUT THE SUBSCRIBER'S CONSENT. I see a ratings-based filter in its simplest form being a password-protected browser setting , or a filter in a proxy/in-line filter device or an ISP filter (if opted for by the subscriber).

I MUST STRESS THAT ANY FILTERING MECHANISM SHOULD BE "OPT-IN" AND MUST BE ABLE TO BE COMPLETELY TURNED OFF BY THE SUBSCRIBER IF DESIRED.

On the other hand, if online material is rated, then so should be books, all magazines (not just ones with nudity) and newspapers. Consistancy would be appreciated.

Note, though, that IMHO, the whole filtering argument is not about "protecting children" - it's about CONTROL. Politicians see something and just can't help themselves - they have to control it - therefore they have to pander to lobby groups or other vested interests in the process.

As to the rest of Burnham's comments - yes, he does seem to be quite a twat.

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Timely takedown

From the article: He also wants websites that allow users to upload content to adhere to standard "take down times" once a video or other material is brought to their attention as offensive.

Now can we also apply that to MPs. I find that 5 years is far to long to wait to get rid of a worthless offensive parasite. As this bunch of ... sorry, (polite) words fail me ... seem to think that just one complaint from any IP holder is worth throwing out all that inconvenient history of old-fashioned things like providing evidence, convincing a jury of peers etc., can we bring in a timely takedown of MPs just by writing a letter (or clicking a button in a 'fox plug-in) to say "Sorry - we believe you are in violation of citizens' rights. Please remove yourself from office forthwith, and never ever try to be re-elected again."

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Bob

The man is clearly very stupid,

But just consider: a badly implemented scheme (like a whitelist/certification setup) wouldn't affect the tech-savvy or the determined kiddy porn fan, but it would raise a barriers to entry for any small internet startup/voluntary group/charity that wanted to get a web presence.

(I, for one, welcome this as having the Chipping Sodbury Space Hopper society site is just using valuable bandwidth that really belongs to large corporations.)

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@AC

Wouldn't work at all.

Either you give it legal power and then we're into censorship territory, or you make it optional and, guess what, most folks are not going to take part because it's extra effort and they don't care. My webpage is hosted by me, so nobody's going to force me to do anything. Let alone the fact that different countries have different standards and different laws. then there's the fact that people will dishonestly rate themselves to slip past this (think spam) and there's nothing anyone will be able to do about it. It *just* won't work.

What you and the minister forget is that there is no central system to keep honest. The moment I have an IP address, I am a web publisher. If I buy a DNS entry (from a registrar anywhere on the planet) to point to it then I have a name. That's literally all there is to it. We can't keep criminals off the net right now, let alone "rating violators".

The *only* thing that does work is parental guidance, supervision, and whitelist sandboxes installed on home computers. I don't approve of those either, on the basis that it's a whitelist so lots of innocent things are culled, but they work. The important thing here is that it's done by parents and done on the client machines, not forced on the net at large and regulated by people rating their own sites.

Besides which, the minister is actually talking about blocking chunks of content entirely, not just "rating" them.

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re:Online Ratings

the only real problem I can see with that sort of thing is that absoultley everyboady who produces content on the internet would have to agree with it and imperlment it properley all it would take to render it usless is a few sort of contrnay that refuse to do it or spoof it or get lasy and jujst flag every thing as totley safe

I am sorry but I just do not see that sort of cororpratuion happening the much safer system is to have a perent install a "safe list" on there childs computer that only lets the child go where the perent lets them this is akin to how perents manage real life as soon as the child is old enought to bipas the lock they are old enougth to take some responcibilty

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Rob
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David Hicks sums it up nicely...

... Andy Burnham is a twat, though to give him his dues, he does have some sort of brain as he's "appearing" to do his job, so at least he's employeed for the next few years.

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An actual idea? Or a grab for power over net content?

As other posters have pointed out, implementing an age rated scheme doesn't solve the problem - you then need to have a way of identifying consumers as being under or over the required age. Which is done.... how exactly??

A cynic might say that this was an attempt to grab the position of arbiter over net content - to essentially get into a position from which censoring content is acceptable. Although thinking laterally, this could also be a way to push ID cards onto us, as the ultimate determinant of whether a user is old enough or not to view said sites....

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BT

"Protection of copyright online should be part of a wide ranging debate, he added."

PHORM/BT copyright theft system in the dock then?

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Anonymous Coward

@David Hicks

Well I disagree with your "it just won't work" statement. It's not perfect, nor easy, but no filtering system ever will be - even a system based on whitelisted sites can have faults. It comes down to how draconian you want to be and what percentage of false positives/negatives you're willing to accept - I expect a whitelisted sites system will have the least false negatives, but it's by far the most draconian - either the parent (who will have the time?) or a service provider will have to generate the whitelist. While that might be alright for K-6, personally, I'd want high school age kids to have more freedom to explore.

I did envisage legislation, but a centralised ratings system is impossible for reasons I'm sure I don't have to explain, so a self-assessed system with spot checks is the only feasible way to go if we're to have ratings at all. Also, it would take literally years to phase in.

In operation, a whitelist can still be used - e.g. set to "pass only rated pages". Structure legislation and penalties such that "unrated" is favourable to "wrongly rated" so that emphasis is on getting ratings right and building confidence - warnings would be included to permit corrections to ratings. A majority of sites may remain "unrated" meaning they'll not be viewed by kids at all. A parent can choose the appropriate level (G, PG, etc) to filter to, but stricter parents can whitelist to specific sites if they want - parents still have the choice.

There'll still be ratings spoofing - again, the system will not be perfect. Just like hackers and crackers will never go away either. But I stress, the vast majority of people who publish online are reasonable, law-abiding people.

Personally, I don't like any filtering and prefer parents to take responsibility, but parents can't be everywhere at once (kids will have notebooks/netbooks with wireless) and I'd prefer that kids have more freedom than granted by some distant filtering service provider who doesn't want to get sued (and who may have certain bias in site selection). I use such filters now, and there's still stuff that gets through .... but they also cut out a lot of the crap and significantly lower the probability of encountering material not suitable for kids. Ratings can aid that process.

I'm well aware of limitations online - I publish online myself and have done so for years - so I'd appreciate if you'd not lump me in with Burnham.

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Anonymous Coward

fucking insane

Whats with the insanity over the net ??? Seriously . Oh some should tell him the US does not take orders from the UK. Its the other way around :). But in all seriousness . I fear m y gov will pick up on this insanity . He no more worry s for the RIAA. Every thing is controlled by the state. Go some were you shouldn't and get 15 years.

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Me-too fascism from New Labour

Italy's 21st Century Il Duce wants to regulate the Internet and now Andy 'Does his mum know where he is?' Burnham jumps up and says 'me too! me too!'

How long before the creep (the process not Burnham) sets in and, (under pressure from the likes of this odious little gobshite), ISPs refuse to host sites that don't come with a 'KiddyFriendly' sticker and a nice picture of Andy Burnham stroking kittens?

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Stop

Snokescreen alert!

Shouldn't the British government be trying to fix the most monumental cockup in financial history rather than worrying about online content that they can't control anyway!

Sounds to me like the spin doctors needed a story ...

Bunch of useless .... Stop wasting tax payers' money on hot air & nonsense!!

Also perhaps someone should have a bit of a read about what the Internet is before they make idiots of themselves trying to regulate it!

How about regulating what you were supposed to be regulating : the banks & financial markets and stop pissing into the wind !!

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@AC 13:11

You said "The Labour government show that they just do not have a fucking clue about how the internet and the web works."

Our survey said "The Labour government show that they just do not have a fucking clue."

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Dead Vulture

Minimum IQ tests for anyone putting themselves forward for election

"'Burnham said: "Leaving your child for two hours completely unregulated on the internet is not something you can do.'"

Is this something you could let a child do in a newsagent? Leave them to themselves for two hours and expect them not to come across anything considered offensive to another person of voting age?

I find politicians wearing eye-liner offensive. Does that mean that everyone should be banned from seeing his face on the internet? Remember Mr Burnham that what people find is offensive is very subjective. I've rarely seen anything on the internet that makes me want to throw up more than watching the pathetic attempts of New Labour politicians trying to defend their mad policies on programs like BBC Newsnight!

This plank should not be in his job. There is no chance for this country to grow a thriving new media industry and replace the jobs lost by New Labour when he is so plainly clueless about how the internet works.

PS: The tombstone is for any politician trying to tell me what I am allowed to read.

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Whenever I read something by a poli about the Net...

...the following words spring to mind:

out, talking, his, of, arse.

Rearrange into a well-known phrase or saying.

Where's the complete-and-utter-twat icon when you need one?

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It's about control

He's found an example of something bad on the internet: 'videos of beheadings' - so he claims this justifies his personal control of EVERY SITE ON THE INTERNET?

Stalin would have loved NuLab.

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"There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. "

Well then just don't fucking LOOK at it, you pillock!

And if your kiddy starts looking at it, what the HELL are you doing leaving your child unattended whilst it's browsing the net?

Your Big Brother, Nanny State, Control Freak Party has already passed the most ludicrous piece of legislation making it illegal simply to possess so-called "extreme pornography" but you can't even *define* what the fuck you mean by this term, so how the hell is anyone going to be able to decide if what they own is illegal in the first place?

And now you want everyone else to do your job as a PARENT and protect your little ones from the nasty stuff that you don't like?

The sooner this bunch of idiots are out of office, the better!

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Burnham knows this will not work

When this has been shown to be the case he will instigate compulsory filtering by ISPs 'for your protection'.

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Anonymous Coward

Spanner

Andy Burnham would be dangerous if he could even buy a clue about what he's talking about.

Burnham is either clearly a complete fucking moron, or he believes everyone except Daily Mail readers are complete fucking morons.

So all in all another day of policy announcement from New Labour...

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wikipaedo?

Lest we not forget the last attempt at censorship that self appointed moral net guardians tried.....

Andy Burnham=FAIL

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Linux

The man's more ignorant than you might believe

There's already an opt-in content ratings service. It's called the RTA label (Restricted to Adults). All providers of adult content are advised to opt into the RTA system by adding its meta tag into the page header of all pages containing adult content. Opting into RTA also gives the site a nice RTA badge to sport which provides a distinctive air of officialdom.

RTA is the American (internationally adopted) system and there's a British version too (can't remember it's name but it's website's very tacky).

Most porn sites use RTA. Most web-browsers recognise the RTA meta tag. All the user has to do is ensure his/her browser has safe search/content filtering enabled.

I can think of no reason not to just adapt the RTA system to include a minimum age specification too e.g RT12, RT18, RT21, and for special people, RTAMPTWATS.

I can't believe this man has done no research into current Internet self regulation. My best guess is that he is attempting to make the British public think he's responsible for something he isn't. He'd be better off just advising website publishers of present systems already in place.

As for "If you look back at the people who created the Internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now." How inconsiderate of the Internet's creators not to plan for the feelings of governments around the world. Tut, tut... Are we supposed to consider the government's ability to touch everything we design from now on?

Alas, I have to wonder about the morals of those whom can't stop thinking of the kiddies....!

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Good idea but...

would be very difficult to implement.

I can see some sort of content certificate similar to SSL working, where you attach the certificate to a domain which applications can then request and filter.

It would only take one press release/dev-blog from google mentioning that sites which have a valid cert (and follow its rating) might get better organic ratings over those who don't to get almost every major website signing up.

Once the websites start signing up, client side apps will start to appear. Someone will write a firefox plugin, which may get written into the next release which will force IE to follow suit or be branded an 'unsafe for kids' browser. It will all just snowball from there.

The problem I can see is user generated content. I have a huge vocabularly of naughty words that I can type here that would probably not go down too well on a PG rated site. This could lead to 'bombing' sites you don't like to get them filtered by client apps or something.

Also having a freely available and fairly accurate content rating for sites is something that the gov just won't be able to keep its paws off of, and they will inevitably apply some bullshit regulations that fuck everything up in the long run.

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Stop

Online self regulatory page ratings?

That would be PICS, then?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platform_for_Internet_Content_Selection

Dumbass. PICS has been around since the 90's and it failed because nobody bloody wanted it.

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Badly advised?

A charitable interpretation would be to say that Burnham has some poor advisors. But whatever the excuse, this a pathetic distraction which will not add one iota to childrens' safety, happiness, or wellbeing. If his ideas were implemented, however, they will saddle everyone with arbitrary and senseless bureaucracy.

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Child Only Internet

A centrally validated list of websites that have been vetted as approved for children (Disneyfied Pseudo Internet). A browser that will only connect to those websites. Parents can install the browser for their children. The children can (ostensibly) only use that browser and view only those approved websites.

Then the censorship-under-the-guise-of-protection double-talk despot wannabes like Burnam can fuck off and leave the real internet for the rest of us, whilst enjoying the empty plaudits of the Mail-reading 'we are right and will create a world that accords with our righteous vision' voters he's trying to snag votes from.

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@The man is clearly very stupid

Really?

A junior minister you have never heard of is suddenly plastered over the torygraph and the BBC with a 'standing up for decency and the children' banner.

Any cabinet reshuffles in the offing? Might such a well known brave defender of the public now be in consideration

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RW
Happy

Everybody's got it backwards

Instead of "making the net safe for precious snowflakes", let's start the discussion by declaring "unless otherwise specified, no part of the net is safe for kiddies."

Then we institute a system whereby web pages can indicate that they are safe for children, with a filter that blocks all other web pages when Junior is logged on. Notice: no centralized white- (or black-) list. When kids are logged on, it's global, automatic censorship. Don't ask me if the filtering should be client-side or server-side.

Unfortunately, this requires a consistent system of categorizing users by age, a process more easily said than done.

All of a sudden, all those adult sites that have a "yes, I am over 18", "no, I am an underage precious snowflake" flash page can get rid of that function. Simply doing nothing at all means (in theory) kiddies can't look at your page.

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Anonymous Coward

stupid stupid stupid

"If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach"

Why is that a problem?

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Anonymous Coward

Global Movement for Internet Change

To me there does appear to be a global movement coalescing against the internet in its current form. Governments are worried about it anarchic nature that allows criminals, terrorists & political opponents to operate with apparent impunity (both democratic & authoritarian). Commercial interests also share similar desires due to copyright theft & other criminal activity. This presents itself in increasing censorship & surveillance. Bloggers & commentators can moan all they like, but some very powerful groups are bringing their influence to bear. I suspect that most people will end up with a sanitised web experience like the Chinese, with people constantly trying to dodge being monitoring & filtering. I don't say this is right or wrong, but that there is a major "paradigm shift" (apologies!) coming.

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wspt of the government

"If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that governments couldn't reach"

those people were briefed with creating in interconnected communications network that could not be brought down by a hostile government.

those people would also happen to be the US government (Darpa/Arpa)

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Stop

Maybe they can do it for phones too!

Can you imagine the reaction if BT were required to beep out "unacceptable" content during phone calls?

Or, your text messages arrived like "that andy is a total ****"

censored to protect!

Obviously we can all trust new labour not to abuse their powers it's not like they'd have MPs who expose their embarassibg cock ups arrested or have their offices, so I doubt they'd do anything to oppress free speech !

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