27 July 2013 — RT
[A Snoopers’ Charter: Watch your privacy take yet another step down the tubes if Cameron’s proposal for compulsory monitoring and censorship of your Web access comes to pass. It’s the next step in state spying on your Web habits and all of it allegedly to stop people accessing child pornography (as if it would!). WB]
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has expanded on his recent set of guidelines for an internet filter that would block pornographic content by default. This has aroused further controversy, as other content may now also face the filter.
Internet service providers from the Open Rights Group have confirmed the news, following Cameron’s Monday revelation that by the end of 2013, broadband subscribers will have to make do with a compulsory system installed everywhere to monitor various content the government deems harmful.
These include social media, gambling and pornography as well as other adult-orientated sites.
The argument was that the nation’s children will be prevented from accessing pornography, once parents start ticking and un-ticking the various options available to them – with the block set by default. According to the PM, this will prevent children’s exposure to “corroding influences” on the net.
Customers wishing to access legal pornographic material will have to contact their providers in order to have the filter removed.
The move has led to several criticisms being leveled at Cameron by censorship opponents, such as that the system may not work, or lead to over-blocking; also that it may be circumvented and, finally that no one knows the extent to which privacy would be affected.
But this all may be just the tip of the iceberg, as more worrying facts about the program have started to surface in the course of Friday.
Activists from the Open Rights Group have been talking to a number of ISPs expected to become the first to introduce Cameron’s new system. It turned out that the list of resources blocked by default will include far more than just pornography.
Recently, the British PM chose to commend a similar online blocking system already in place, HomeSafe, which is currently the leader in the field and covers several categories of websites.
The problem is that these categories don’t make clear just how sweeping the changes would be once a user ticks or un-ticks a category, allowing the program to omit a whole host of resources during the initial stages of setting it up.
An interesting aspect about HomeSafe is that the company that created it, TalkTalk, is actually run by Huawei – a Chinese company belonging to a former officer of the Chine People’s Liberation Army. This is something the UK government knows, as was evident from an Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report from last month. It said that the “alleged links between Huawei and the Chinese State” are a cause for concern and could “generate suspicion as to whether Huawei’s intentions are strictly commercial or are more political.”
Whether the connection is as direct as the government believes, what is troubling people about TalkTalk is that even when its filter is turned off, its online traffic still passes through Huawei.
UK providers will actually be free to pick any filtering system of their choosing, but some take issue with the fact that Huawei is still not off the list. The only consolation is that users could still be able to set up a Virtual Private Network (VPN). However, the Open Rights Group believes that there is a big chance this option may also be canceled.