back to article Health minister warns ISPs: Block suicide websites or face regulation

Telcos face being regulated by the government if they fail to block websites offering advice on suicide, the health minister Norman Lamb has warned. There are already calls for ISPs to cut off access to content that's inappropriate for children, such as pornography, by default – thus requiring smut oglers to opt in. This week …

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So, it's proven again?

Anything seen on the internets forces people to do it in real life?

So if all political websites on the internets will be blocked no one will ever want to become a politician?

I'm all pro-censorship now!

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Ultimately

What we're looking at here is the government threatening to place a prohibition on information on how to perform a legal action - it is not illegal to kill yourself.

I'm not saying people should do it, and those contemplating it should get a completely different style of help, but where the heck does this end? What other legal actions do we prevent people finding information on because we find it a bit squeamish?

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Re: Ultimately

What we are really looking at is government exploiting issues having high emotional impact (suicide, child abuse) and the tool to ramrod widespread deployment of Internet filtering infrastructure.

Once that is in place, they will forget about children or depressed people and will be busy blocking anything that is making them uncomfortable at any particular moment. They will no longer need to issue "public consultation" and some such nonsense. Using "national security" as the pretext, the blacklists will be secret and ISPs will not be even allowed to talk about what they are blocking.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ultimately

I'm sure many others will have have already said the same by the time I finish my post, but it IS illegal to kill yourself - at least in the UK. Have you not seen the news about near-vegetables with zero quality of life desperately fighting for the 'right to die'?

My stance is that the websites shouldn't be blocked. Those that look into suicide online risk missing out on offers of help or counseling and even the hard truths of how the 'traditional' methods run the risk of leaving you alive in a ruined shell of a body. Those who research the subject extensively online have likely already made their mind up to go for it. Speaking as someone who has 'looked into it'* at a low ebb, sitting at the computer reading about it is very important because it means you're not sitting in the bath with pills or a razor. Half an hour thinking can often be all that's needed to calm down and decide to get through another day.

*Several years back, I'm much better now. FYI I found sweet FA about doing the deed because the searches were clogged with forums for people who wanted to talk - forums the government are putting at risk. That buffer gave me the time I needed to come to my senses. all this is personal experience, your mileage may vary.

AC for obvious reasons.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Illegal? No.

I thought similarly to you, but I checked, and actually this is not the case in either the UK or the US.

The specific act of suicide is NOT an offence where it affects only the deceased person.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_views_of_suicide

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Illegal? No.

The reason for that is obvious, surely?

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: Ultimately

> it IS illegal to kill yourself - at least in the UK

It isn't. Hasn't been for decades.

> Have you not seen the news about near-vegetables with zero quality of life desperately fighting for the 'right to die'?

They are fighting for the right for someone else to help end their life, as they are no longer capable. Proponents of such an act call it "assisted suicide", opponents call it "murder". And therein lies the problem; it's very, very difficult to enable the former without accidentally enabling the latter.

I'm not sure the UK courts have actually got it right; that bloke a couple of weeks ago would not seem to be an on-the-line case...

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

I wrote to my MP outlining why it's a ridiculous piece for the government to be cocking about with

(I even persisted in the consultation piece even though it was a disaster)

I got a 'won't someone think of the children' reply, seems to be the common response in all things from this government, how could anyone possibly not want to protect children from nasty things.

In other news I saw a report about a parent having to skip meals just so they could put a bowl of soup in front of their child due to cost of living overtaking salaries

Won't someone think of the children

Fucking government is the shits

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm...

Can you tell me what's bad about "thinking of the children?"

They're children, by definition not able to act as an adult, therefore by definition not always able to act in their own interests, this does mean that people/society has to think of the children because they can't always.

I realise that think of the children is used as a shorthand for going too far in the course of thinking of the children, but it strikes me that a lot of commentors here have forgotten that and take a knee jerk reaction of "fuck the children".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hmm...

lot of commentors here have forgotten that and take a knee jerk reaction of "fuck the children".

I though we were taking measures to stop that from happening?

Yeah, sorry, I know, tasteless.

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Facepalm

the dangerous and disturbing online content which, without proper controls, our children can access almost at any time

You know what the ultimate in proper controls to protect children from dangerous online content is? PARENTAL SUPERVISION. The Internet isn't a playground, it isn't a babysitter, it's a mirror of humanity, showing everything great and everything truly disgusting about us, of course you shouldn't let your kids wonder around it...

Take responsibility for your spawn, and stop making the rest of the world suffer because you needed to breed.

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Anonymous Coward

Really?

I take it you're not actually a parent, then? You can't supervise children all the time, certainly not teenagers, apart from anything they have to learn how to stand on their own two feet and constant supervision prevents this.

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FAIL

Re: Really?

No, I'm not, but I'm the eldest (by 11 years) of 5 siblings, and let me tell you my parents never let me on the PC unsupervised, and that was in the age of BBS... once we got internet access when I was around 17 (some of the first in our community) that rule was just as strictly enforced, the PC was in the lounge room, not a bedroom, and if someone was online, then there was an adult in the room.

Not looking over their shoulder, but just having an adult presence in the same room did wonders to keep us honest.

My friends that have children all follow the same sort of things, PC in a public space, kids only allowed on with an adult in the room.

How about you actually parent your children, instead of demanding the rest of the world cater to your lazy ass.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Really?

I don't know if you've noticed or not, but children and teenagers these days tend to have access to the Internet all over the place, from handheld devices as small as an ipod to the family computer.

It's not that easy and to represent people who don't enforce a rod of Iron against their children as lazy is just a poor way to get out of a debate.

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Silver badge

Re: Really?

take it you're not actually a parent, then? You can't supervise children all the time, certainly not teenagers, apart from anything they have to learn how to stand on their own two feet and constant supervision prevents this.

As a parent I take a similar view, except my conclusions are different to yours. Kids need to be taught to stood on their own two feet, yes, but part of that is learning responsibility. They don't learn that if the Govt does all the blocking for us, to survive in the real world they need to learn what it's like. I'd much rather mine asked me about something than went of looking in dodgy places, but I don't feel the need for a Govt run filter to try and prevent that.

There's this thing called talking to your kids (no iron rods needed ;) ), treat them as adults and explain it's a big bad world out there. I'd like to think mine will come to me with almost anything, and if I ever did feel the need to do something about their Internet access because of mis-use, it's quite simple - access gone for a set amount of time.

Obviously kids differ, but I know for sure that mine would quite happily spend time circumventing any filter that was blocking something they wanted to see. Fuck, I did much the same when I was younger, and it was always more about the principal than the content on the other side. End result, filter's pretty much worthless.

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FAIL

Re: Really?

I don't know if you've noticed or not, but children and teenagers these days tend to have access to the Internet all over the place, from handheld devices as small as an ipod to the family computer.

Guess whose responsibility it is to make sure they are accessing safe sites and using those devices responsibly?

Here is a hint since you seem so slow, it's not mine, it's not the governments, it's not the ISP, it's YOU.

If you don't trust your kids to act in a manner you approve of, why the hell are you giving them unfettered access to the 'net via mobile devices?

I detest people who claim we should block out access to things just because of "The Children". The Internet is for everyone, not just for your spawn, why the hell should we be punished because you can't take the effort to actually parent.

I personally find the "suicide" sites in question morally repugnant, but then again there is a lot of stuff online I find detestable, doesn't mean I want it censored, I simply don't visit it.

Be a parent and stop expecting the government to do your job.

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Anonymous Coward

The Thick of It

Anyone else reminded of the Minister's hopeless and hapless launch of the "Digital Dividend" initiative on last week's episode of The Thick of It?

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Anonymous Coward

Optional

One reason I might decide to accidently put a very fine drill bit through a webcam on a laptop is the internet can be a scary place for children, no matter how mature they are it's about reducing that risk and anything that helps and doesn't interfere with adults using it is a good thing IMHO.

The idea this is robbing children of their freedom isn't one I've seen in the comments, just that people don't want it to be opt out which I agree with. With piratebay blocking BE do all the blocking upstream from my router so it's not as easy as a DNS switch. They spoof reponses from the real priatebay IP with a warning page and for SSL send the correct RFC ICMP saying the content is being administrively filtered, although firefox sees this as a timeout for some reason, you can get around it but it invovles going through another network.

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Stop

@AC 12:02

While I'm sure that people have killed themselves using methods found through research conducted on these sites, the fact that they went to such effort to do the research would seem to suggest that they were rather dead-set (pun intended) on topping themselves anyway.

Say for instance, in a single year, 15 people look at a specific suicide website, all with the intention of committing suicide. 5 kill themselves, the other 10 decide they'd rather live. How many of the 5 who died would've killed themselves anyway, and how many of the 10 who didn't would have if the site had not been there to put them off the idea?

Legislation like this needs to be based off of real data and scientific and social studies, not one out-of-touch minister and his yes men aides trying to find some means to justify their existence.

As the first poster stated, this is feature creep of the worst kind and it is only the beginning...

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Mushroom

"Suicide is No Solution"

Easier to simply cut off the information and make it look like you're doing something to pacify the Daily Mail reading middle Englanders than spend some of money trying to found why society is so fucked up that kids who have barley even lived are contemplating their own demise. How about spending money getting out into schools and colleges to inform anyone who may be listening that there is always hope and there, budget cutbacks aside, will be someone who will listen and advise.

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Punishing the disabled for being disabled

This is just another case of punishing the disabled for being disabled.

Anybody in the suicide prevention business knows that you can't stop able bodied people committing suicide. All you can do is to try and remove the reasons for committing suicide. That can be surprisingly effective.

For those you can't persuade you can at least offer comfort during the process. For many its the one decision they have left and its one I wouldn't want to take away. So if they can do it themselves - I'm in the clear. For those that are too disabled to do it themselves - they are robbed of that choice. Does that prolong lives? Maybe. But against that you have the quality of life. Living a life they do not want. They can get quite fixated on that.

Paradoxically giving them the option to die can save life. The decision is not hypothetical, it is real, and they are going to examine the meaning of their life in the deepest way. That again can open their minds to choose another way. It is not always possible but overall live or die people get the choice they want.

I find it easier to deal and empathises with these people then those that insist they must continue to suffer no matter what.

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Bah

Mildly annoying that it's a Lib Dem furthering this illiberal stretch of the current censorship laws...

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Unhappy

Re: Bah

I think it's pretty obvious the LibDems left their principles by the door in 2010. I honestly can't seen any sign that they have in anyway managed to dent the increasingly loopy direction the Tories are lurching in.

Leaving us with no credible choice at all.

Note to USians .... seems like you're catching up with the UK .... having absolutely no one worth voting for,.

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Silver badge
FAIL

Define "a website offering advice on suicide". So.... all of Wikipedia, all of the BBC, all of the NHS, all of the Health & Safety Executive, all of which seomwhere will have something that says that substance X will kill you. CARN will be blocked because somewhere in there it mentions ingesting plutonium will kill you.

Double fail in automatically coupling "website" with "contaent that may or may not be on one or more pages withing the website" and as withthe failure to define "porn" in a way a computer (ie router, server, etc.) can match, a failure to define "suicide advice" in a way a computer, etc., can match.

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Anonymous Coward

So a government site says that Hanging, strangulation and suffocation are statistically the most reliable methods if I wanted to kill myself?

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Flame

What we're seeing here is an exact parallel of the beginnings of the War on Drugs. Initially a moral panic fanned by moronic media, and instituted by a Government too stupid to tie its own shoelaces best out of three. If Net censorship is instituted, then we will pretty quickly move along to the current situation with drugs.

As things stand with drugs, a bewildering array of chemicals are banned, including fungi which grow wild in the UK. Huge amounts of money are spent on trying to enforce the ban, whilst the nation's youth circumvent the ban with contemptuous ease whenever they feel the need to do so.

A ban on assorted things on the Internet will result in exactly the same end situation: much money being spent to try to enforce a ban which is treated with the contempt it deserves by all and sundry, and especially the technically literate youth whom it was meant to protect.

Let's simply not go there.

Let's save ourselves the money and hassle and just not bother with the censorship/ban/pointless moral outrage.

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Megaphone

LOL

i can think of loads of ways to kill myself. its quite easy really. Don't need the internet for inspiration.

I guess it's mostly women looking at suicide sites, because when men attempt suicide, it usually works.

I can't believe it's 2012, we had the founder of the web in the opening ceremony of the "best ever" Olympics, and every puppet in this government is coming out with internet censorship bills from a different fucking direction.

What's the big deal with suicide, I would never do that shit, because even though life is grim for me, we are going into an age of global austerity where my life is actually of the freest and highest quality and we will all get poorer and less free from here on out.

21 trillion dollars have been stolen from us, you think that'll make a few people wanna kill themselves. That number again: $21trillion. Just Google 21 trillion dollars stolen. You think the people who stole it will still let you Google that after they get the internet tracking tech installed in our (up until now free) telcos?

Ha!

I shed light into the darkness, but the darkness did not understand.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: LOL

"...I guess it's mostly women looking at suicide sites, because when men attempt suicide, it usually works...."

I wonder if you have noticed there is a problem getting women into IT?

I'd suggest that you are part of that problem, given the outrageous sexism in your comment.

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Re: LOL

He is part of which problem - that women may not be as successful in killing themselves as men?

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Re: I'd suggest that you are part of that problem,

while i am one of the most prominent figures in the IT world that women look to when considering a career in the field, I must say that generally i am correct even if it offends some of them.

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Anonymous Coward

The underlying push ....

Since time immemorial, people in power have sought ways to keep themselves in power, and (by implication) those out of power, out.

Why do you think so many cousins married in the Royal bloodlines of Europe - going back to the Romans ?

One immensely useful class of tool for keeping the hoi polloi under the thumb, are laws which aren't easily defined. That way, you can lock people you don't like up, on pretext of breaking one of these "laws", even if everyone else is doing it too.

Look at the anti-terror laws (illegal to own a map), the extreme porn laws (illegal to own an excerpt from a BBFC film), if you need more examples.

The only saving grace, is traditionally, privilege and knowledge have never really sat easily together, because it takes hard work to actually learn anything - hard work which the ruling classes tend to avoid. However, this will just result in a two class society ... the rulers and those savvy enough to work around them, and everybody else.

Here's a question for those that may doubt this. If you were to abolish a law a day, what would the date be, before we got back to (1) the number of laws in 1997 (2) the number of laws in 1979, and (3) the number of laws in 1900 ?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The underlying push ....

"Here's a question for those that may doubt this. If you were to abolish a law a day, what would the date be, before we got back to (1) the number of laws in 1997 (2) the number of laws in 1979, and (3) the number of laws in 1900 ?"

Trick question I reckon, because they are adding more than one law a day as it is.

I never used to see the point in Revolution, since it inevitably replaced the ruling elite with individuals who then became what they sought to overthrow. I think I'm starting to see the point now though - you get to nail some bastard to a wall who thoroughly deserved it.

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Stop

Anyone for helium?

Two grim ironies about this latest shitstorm. First is that apparently there's been a big rise in the use of helium* to commit suicide which has been attributed to knowledge gained from the Web. So if we accept that at face value is it really smart for the people who are concerned to be that specific about the method when discussing it with reporters? Especially because when you're feeling suicidal you can just Google for "suicide helium" and the first hit is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_bag

Which brings us on to the second issue: people have talked about having to block Wikipedia because it talks about things being lethal but it's *far* more specific than that.

* other gases are available

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Vic
Silver badge

Re: Anyone for helium?

> apparently there's been a big rise in the use of helium* to commit suicide which has

> been attributed to knowledge gained from the Web

I find it disappointing that this is attributed to the Web,

When I did O-level Biology, we were taught that the impetus to breathe was down to CO2, not oxygen. A sufficiently large volume[1] of some anoxic gas is therefore going to give you a situation where life cannot be sustained, but without the discomfort of a CO2 drive. I thought this was commonn knowledge...

Vic.

[1] It needs to be a suffciently large amount so that exhaled CO2 does not build up sufficiently to generate the desire to breathe. That would be the plastic-bag suffocation you see depicted in films...

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Wait a second!

BBC is saying that government's own reports are showing that "Suicide rates among young men - previously the most at-risk group - have fallen. There was a total of 4,215 suicides recorded in 2010" and "Overall the rate of suicides has fallen..."

If I take the usual government logic that everything you see on the internets has direct correlation with what you do or don't do for real and add to that an assumption that the number of suicide (as any other websites) is growing, that means that the higher the number of suicide websites, the lower the number of suicides.

Hence, by reducing access to suicide website the Minister actually wants to increase the number of people killing themselves!

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Nanny

I thoroughly resent all this alleged nannying, which is only censorship under another name. "They" will probably gradually ban just about everything else that's only slightly dubious on the net - all in the name of "think of the children". It's parents who should think of the children and regulate what they see, not some technically illiterate grandstanding politician. Why should any ISP be responsible for policing this? It's not THEIR job and the cost will doubtless be passes on in the form of higher subscription fees. It sounds as if UK MP's have been taking lessons in how to disrupt the net from their American counterparts. They just want control. I despair.

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Slippery slope

I saw this coming back when TPB was blocked and the loony for Devizes embarked on her web-burka crusade, but even I wasn't pessimistic enough to expect it this soon!

They put filters in place to block child pornography (CleanFeed) - fair enough, it's illegal, nobody should look anyway - it restricts Wikipedia for a while - well, mistakes will happen, etc ... then they want to block "adult" content, "pirate" content, "unsuitable" content ...

Unless we make a stand now, sooner or later we might as well not have Net access. I've contacted my MP about it, how many other Reg readers have?

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Silver badge

Forget the topic

Does anyone else think that if the government thinks suicide sites need shutting down then they *should* be regulating them?

Its very very important! So important, we're not going to devote any time to it. We're just going to throw random threats around and hope someone else does it for us.

If the government wants something regulated, it should jolly well regulate it, not try to slip in restrictions by the back door. Go ahead, say you want to censor it and provide the justification.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Blocking Web Sites Futile and Cameron's Nanny State

You would have thought by now even Tory cabinet members would realise blocking web sites is futile.

All a potential self-terminator need do is to e-mail friends overseas and they could either send e-mails of contents or even burn a DVD.

Why is it that European governments think their citizens so immature? Children look for pornography, preachers look for pornography, it doesn't just 'pop' up - it requires searching.for. My employer has a search group who work on client contracts and all they do is search for material. That's six women for 40 hours a week and they rarely accidentally happen across porn. In fact the web site producers might be disappointed for whenever their are a burst of giggles I know they are laughing at some of the featured antics.

In fact one of the best porn lists was published by the Australian government. It was their block list for ISPs.

If someone decides to kill themselves with gas, or to take a toaster into the bathtub, or to asphyxiate themselves in a car you don't see governments banning the supply if gas, or electricity or petrol.

Parents are responsible for their own children and if they want to block InterNet or long-distance calls, etc. they can damn well do it themselves without restricting the whole of the citizenry. Why should the greater public be penalised because some incompetents can't program their computer software or TV channel blocking.

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Flame

Problematic on so many levels

Freedom of speech.

Freedom of information.

Freedom of self determination.

Freedom of self termination.

...

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