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Codes of practice and regulation of tinterweb – Home Affairs Committee report on radicalisation

When I was a kid my dad asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I of course said I wanted to be the CTO of a fast growing ISP with prospects 🙂 Dad was somewhat confused with this and told me not to be a silly boy because the internet hadn’t been invented yet and I should learn to be a doctor or a judge or pursue some similarly respectable form of employment.

Some days it feels as if dad will end up having his own way and I will end up as a judge. In the news this morning is yet another report suggesting that ISPs should put together a code of practice in respect of taking down websites that do something we aren’t supposed to like.

There is a lot of this going on. If it isn’t the movie and music industry rightsholders wanting us to block sites promoting copyright infringement it’s Nominet in cahoots with the police trying to suspend domains allegedly supporting criminal activity.  Today its a Home Affairs Committee reporting on radicalisation suggesting that ISPs need a voluntary code of practice that supports the  taking down of websites containing violent extremist material.

Glancing through the report the committee did cover the issues surrounding radicalisation and the internet with reasonable thoroughness. For example it was recognised that there were existing legal mechanisms that allowed the take down of websites if they were breaking the law.

Now hands up if you think it is a good thing to kill people because they don’t have similar religious views as your own (leave a comment)? Okaay now hands up if you think this is a bad thing – “Like”, “tweet”  or “+1” if this is you.

Now next question how many of you think it is a good thing for you to take decisions that have up until now been thought as the role of a high court judge – ie difficult ones that have serious implications if you get it wrong.

Because the whole world has moved or is moving onto the internet laymen (OED – a category of person often comprised almost exclusively of politicians) latch on to the idea of controlling that new world and stopping people accessing bits of it. In isolation some of these desires may not seen unreasonable. In reality when you take the whole picture into consideration the sum of these “not unreasonable” parts amounts to wholesale censorship.

If we are not careful the internet will turn into a police state. I’m not scaremongering here1. There will be some roads waves you can’t walk surf because of fear of being seen by some authority somewhere to be associating with a website or concept even that displeases someone in authority.

Keep the internet open. Keep politicians away from the internet. We don’t need internet specific laws – we just need someone to make existing ones work. Layering codes of practice on codes of practice is not the way to do it.

1 well I might be but I voice what should be a real concern to people

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

3 replies on “Codes of practice and regulation of tinterweb – Home Affairs Committee report on radicalisation”

You hit the nail on the head by stating we don’t need new laws but ways of making existing ones work. Look at the recent furore over SOPA in the US and then the Government there demonstrated SOPA was irrelevant by getting the Feds to shut down Megaupload and asking for the extradition of the guy who ran it.

Its just another example of politics being used as the tool for big businesses to enforce what they think is right as they class an ilegal download as a lost sale. Unfortunately there isn’t that many politicians that actually truly understand technology and therefore we get these weak thought out plans . If the media industry listened to what the user’s wanted (eg Downloadable moves , TV and songs) instead of trying to force everyone to use a 30 year old business model then I’m pretty sure the file sharing industry may not be as prevalent as it is now. I like to think I’m the example here as I used to file share but since the introduction of readily available and reasonably priced music from Spotify and Amazon (I’m deliberately leaving out Itunes as Apples 30% cut is terrible) and movies from Netflix my downloading has stopped compleatly

First they came for the criminal websites,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a criminal website owner.

Then they came for the file sharing websites,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a file sharing website owner.

Then they came for the pornogragph websites,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a pornogragph websites owner.

Then they came for the social networking webistes,
and I didn’t speak out because I was social networking webistes owner.

Then they came for my website,
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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