Friday, November 29, 2013

Misson creep

For the past decade, the UK internet industry has had a voluntary blacklist to block child pornography. Now, the government wants to impose one for "extremist" content as well:

The government is to order broadband companies to block extremist websites and empower a specialist unit to identify and report content deemed too dangerous for online publication.

The crime and security minister, James Brokenshire, said on Wednesday that measures for censoring extremist content would be announced shortly. The initiative is likely to be controversial, with broadband companies already warning that freedom of speech could be compromised.

Today the target is Muslim extremists and terrorist "sympathisers" - that is, people who criticise UK government policy. But its worth remembering who else the British government regards as "extremists" to be surveilled, databased, and tracked: environmentalists, peace activists, students, and those supporting equality. Given those anti-democratic attitudes, an "anti-terrorism" blocklist seems to be the thin end of the wedge for widespread political censorship.