Internet firms will be spared Government demands to impose default blocking of websites with content for adults.
A leaked email says internet firms have been assured they will not face stringent filtering systems. The revelation makes a farce of a consultation paper that was launched earlier this week asking for views on dealing with adult material.
The email says ministers wholeheartedly support active choice in which parents would have to say yes or no to adult material when setting up an internet connection.
Last month David Cameron said there was a clear case for looking at default blocks. But this has been ruled out according to the email sent on Thursday by Andrew Kernahan of the Internet Service Providers' Association to 200 members including BT, Virgin,
Sky, AOL and Cable & Wireless. He wrote:
I spoke to the Department for Education this morning about the consultation and they made it clear that UKCCIS (the UK Council for Child Internet Safety), ministers and the relevant departments wholeheartedly support active choice and not default
filtering or the so-called active choice plus solution.
The only reason they are consulting on this is because No 10 told the Daily Mail that they would consult and listen to all views. Proposals: The Government launched a consultation paper an on 'opt-in system, under which internet service providers would
automatically block pornography unless an adult asked for it to be available
This is in line with what we've been told throughout -- that government supports active choice.
Helen Goodman, who is Labour's media spokesman, said:
This email is explosive. It is very important we have a proper consultation which gives parents and children's organisations the chance to say why they want to put children first. It is time ministers stood up for ordinary people rather than big
The government is to consider putting extra pressure on computer users to filter out pornography when setting up internet accounts. The latest system, called active choice-plus , is aimed at reaching a compromise. It would automatically block
adult content, but would set users a loaded question, along the lines of whether they want to change this to gain access to sites promoting pornography, violence and other adult-only themes.
Ministers are suggesting that people should automatically be barred from accessing unsuitable adult material unless they actually choose to view it. It is one of several suggestions being put out for an e-consultation on how to shield children from
Children's minister Tim Loughton said:
The internet is transforming every aspect of society and family life - and opens up enormous opportunities for us all. But with the benefits come risks. Growing numbers of parents do not feel in control of what their families are exposed to online.
Many want to take responsibility, but all too often they do not how know how because they find the technology too difficult to use or their children are more technically advanced then they are.
There is no silver bullet to solve this. No filter can ever be 100% foolproof. There is a cottage industry of people, mostly operating outside the UK, continually creating and proliferating 'proxy' websites that provide links to adult and harmful
Automatic filtering on its own risks lulling parents into a false sense of security and there can never be any substitute for parents taking responsibility for how, when and where their children use the internet. The answer lies in finding ways to
combine technical solutions with better education, information and, if necessary regulation further down the line.
The discussion paper asks for views on three broad options for the best approach to keeping children safe online. It is an e-consultation where responses can be made online. The paper's introduction reads:
Tim Loughton, Minister for Children and Families, and Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equalities and Criminal Information are joint chairs of the executive board of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). They are writing to members of UKCCIS
to seek their views and advice on parental controls. The request is to members of UKCCIS and other organisations and individuals, especially parents, who might want to respond.
I wonder if anyone will have the bottle to question the assumption underpinning this nonsense: that kids should be prevented from viewing porn.
Producers, under pressure to appear responsible , are unlikely to do so.
Thinking back to my misspent youth half a century ago, I became aware that girls were getting to be a different shape when I was about thirteen, and soon managed to acquire from a willing newsagent (who evidently didn't recognise the distinctive uniform
of the local grammar school) some of those useful little black and white magazines intended for the amateur and professional photographer . I have to admit that, since I had never used anything more sophisticated than a Kodak Brownie, all that
stuff about 1/60 at F3.5 was Greek to me. Alternatively, I could purchase that serious magazine for naturists, Health and Efficiency. You could tell how innocent nudism was, since it ensured that among the people with nothing on who appeared in
its pages were plenty of those most innocent of creatures, children. Mind you, I did wonder how the children were produced, since nobody in these magazines appeared to be equipped with genitalia.
Since my life has hardly been ruined by my teenage exposure to Kamera and H&E, I really wonder whether these clowns in Parliament are making such a bloody fuss about.
The Government has been forced to close the public consultation on blocking online pornography after it emerged visitors were able to view others' supposedly confidential responses, and personal details including passwords.
The online consultation opened on Thursday and invited views from the public on what controls broadband providers should offer or impose to prevent children accessing pornography. It collected views on an array of sensitive subjects, such as explicit
material online, parental responsibilities, cyberbullying and censorship.
Once they had completed the questionnaire, visitors were, however, able to view the names, email addresses, passwords and consultation responses of others, The Register first reported.
Department for Education technicians shut down the website after the privacy failure was reported to the Information Commissioner. A spokeswoman for the Department of Education said officials had been in contact with the regulator and an investigation
Nick Pickles, director of civil liberties and privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch, said: At a time when the Home Office wants to monitor our emails and the websites we visit and the Department for Education is consulting on forcing internet
providers to control people's internet access, this kind of fundamental security failure is nothing short of astounding.
A PC Pro investigation has exposed basic flaws in the TalkTalk child internet safety filter being championed by MPs.
Our investigation has revealed fundamental flaws in the TalkTalk filtering system that would potentially give children easy access to hardcore pornography.
With Google's parental controls flipped off, we accessed pages of pornographic images using Google's Image Search. Although the sites hosting the images were blocked, we were still able to click on the thumbnail images in search results to see enlarged
photos - which ironically appear over the warning that the page has been blocked.
Even the cost of setting up China's Great Firewall is reported to have cost less than $1 billion. Might it be that the scale of the nationwide monitoring system is far greater the government has so far been willing to publicly acknowledge?
In the US file-sharers will soon be monitored on behalf of the MPAA and RIAA, and in the UK there are plans to monitor and store all Internet communications. To counter this people are turning to VPN services. How long before VPNs become illegal?
The government has published a draft version of a bill that, if signed into law in its current form, would force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and mobile phone network providers in Britain to install black boxes in order to collect and store
information on everyone's internet and phone activity, and give the police the ability to self-authorise access to this information. However, the Home Office failed to explain whether or not companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter will be brought
under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA), and how they intend to deal with HTTPS encryption.
Faith in the integrity of HTTPS encryption is what makes online banking and the entire e-commerce industry possible, and Google uses it to secure its Gmail service, as do most webmail providers. The need for easy access to Gmail has been one of the Home
Office's primary justifications for the Communications Bill, but technology experts are dubious as to whether it is possible to technically and lawfully break HTTPS on a nationwide scale. At this morning's Home Office briefing, Director of the Office for
Security and Counter-Terrorism Charles Farr was asked about how the black box technology would handle HTTPS encryption. His only response was: It will.
The draft Bill includes controversial measures to require network operators to acquire communications data relating to third party services -- for example, requiring an ISP to discover and record when its customers post a message on a social networking
site, and to which other user of the site that message was addressed. The Bill does not specify what data ISPs are to acquire, nor provide any limits; the requirements for ISPs are to be set out in Orders made by the Home Secretary at a later date.
Writing in The Sun, Home Secretary Theresa May said:
I just don't understand why some people criticise these proposals. People have a right to privacy. But unless you are a criminal, then you've nothing to worry about from this new law. This isn't a snoopers' charter, it's a criminals' nightmare.
At a press and MP briefing at Parliament today, Julian Huppert MP said that he couldn't believe the bill could even be put before the House in its current form. David Davis MP remarked that, given that the RIPA process is already a disgrace , the
Home Office should be introducing a bill that introduces warrant requirements to RIPA rather than making it even easier for the police to access citizens' communications data. He also revealed that David Maclean, the most right-wing politician the
Home Office ever saw , will be chairing the committee on the bill.
Dr Gus Hosein, Executive Director of Privacy International, said: In the UK, we've historically operated under the presumption that the government has no business peering into the lives of citizens unless there is good reason to - that people are
innocent until proven guilty. This legislation would reverse that presumption and fundamentally change the relationship between citizen and state, and their relationship with their internet and mobile service providers. Yet there are still big question
marks over whether Facebook and Google will be brought under RIPA, and how far the government is willing to go in undermining internet security in order to fulfil its insatiable desire for data.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey has confirmed the Government was looking at introducing cinema-style age ratings for educational videos. He told MPs he shared 'concerns' about the content of some sex education films and he is meeting with the British Board of
Film Classification to discuss whether they should have statutory age ratings.
Films are currently exempt from the classification system if used for educational purposes. But nutter pressure groups are campaigning against anything related to sex being seen by children and trying to suggest that supposed sexualisation is the root
cause of all society's ills.
Ministers are in the process of lowering the threshold for video games and pop videos to be submitted to statutory age ratings. A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport confirmed that the Government's new measure could also be applied
to sex education films.
The issue came up in the House of Commons with Vaizey was responding to a question from Tory MP Andrea Leadsom, who has campaigned in favour of the move. Leadsom claimed some material in the videos was sexually explicit and completely inappropriate
for young children. She said that some of the films, produced by Channel 4 and the BBC, were like porn . One BBC sex education video for nine-year-olds showed animated cartoon couples making love and contained information on wet dreams and
A BBC spokesman said: All educational resources from BBC Active are produced in collaboration with education experts and are issued with clear guidance so teachers can use them appropriately in their classrooms.
Leadsom asked in Parliament:
There are many parents across the country who are very concerned about the content of sex and relationship education videos that are being shown to children as young as six and have no external rating whatsoever.
In fact, they are being sold for profit by organisations.
Can the minister tell me whether he would consider requiring them to be rated by the British Board of Film Classification?
Ed Vaizey said he would meet with the board of film classification to discuss the issue.
The spin doctors at 10 Downing Street have done well today. The media has bought - hook, line and sinker - the spin that the Defamation Bill will mean an end to the scourge of internet trolls.
The day after Louise Mensch's twisted cyber stalker escaped jail and in the week Nicola Brookes obtained a court order compelling Facebook to reveal the IP addresses of those who made her life a misery online, the government's spin doctors have revealed
to a breathless media that weirdos who cower behind anonymity online will no longer be able to do so. All hail the Lord Chancellor, Kenneth Clarke!
All wonderful news - except that that is not what the Defamation Bill will provide for.
First of all, the Defamation Bill is - as the name suggests - only about defamatory statements. It will not cover comments that are offensive, unpleasant or constitute harassment, breach of confidence or an invasion of privacy - and the bulk of trolls'
comments are in those categories as opposed to being defamatory as such.
Secondly, the Defamation Bill creates a higher hurdle for those who want to bring a claim in defamation in any event. Under the proposed new law (which receives its second reading in the House of Commons today - hence the media spin), a statement will
not be defamatory unless its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant . What constitutes seriousness is not defined but the Bill is designed to ensure that there are fewer defamation claims in the
future, not more.
Thirdly, the spin doctors have assured the media that the new law will mean victims will no longer need to go through costly legal battles to unmask their tormentors. If only that were true. It would still be a very brave (i.e. foolish) website operator
who simply reveals the name or IP address of the author of a particular post without a court order compelling him to do so.
People who fail to register to vote could face fines of up to £ 130 under nasty new government plans.
The new system of individual electoral registration (IER) would see individuals sign up to cast their vote rather than the current system which relies on the head of a household filling in a form stating the number of voters in a property.
The Government has scrapped even nastier plans which would have made failing to register a criminal offence.
Mark Harper, the constitutional reform minister said:
We will be moving to a system where individuals have to provide information to enable their application to be verified.
The intention is that only those who refuse repeatedly can be fined. We don't think it's particularly helpful to democracy if we start fining hundreds of thousands of people.
This will modernise our electoral registration system, facilitate the move to online registration and make it more convenient for people to register to vote.
Andrew Stephenson, a Conservative MP, called for an end to on-demand postal voting, which he said had increased the risk of fraud:
The current on-demand postal voting regime actively disenfranchises women and young people by allowing family voting to occur, where the head of the household can pledge the entire family's votes to a particular political party.
He can then ensure that all those votes go to that political party by either watching family members complete their postal ballots, by completing the ballots himself or by completing them with an activist from the said political party.
This is a particular issue in the South Asian community and indeed I have met Asian women in my constituency who have told me they have no idea who they voted for because their husband did it.
As announced in the Queen's Speech, the Department for Culture, Media, Sport and Censorship is seeking views about the exemptions in the
Video Recordings Act and about how advertisements shown in cinemas are censored.
Consultation Open date: 09 May 2012
Closing date: 01 August 2012
Please send your comments or if you have any queries about this consultation to:
or by post:
Advertising and Exemption Consultation Department for Culture,
Media and Sport
2-4 Cockspur Street
London SW1Y 5DH
Cinema Advertising Censorship
The government is asking whether the BBFC really needs to get involved in the censorship of cinema adverts. At the moment it is mandatory that the BBFC rate such advertising, but the Government is asking if the more general system of advert
censorship provided by CAP and ASA is sufficient.
Option 0: No change
Under this option cinema advertisements would continue to be referred to the BBFC for age rating whilst also being subject to mandatory self-regulation overseen by the ASA.
This regime has been in place for a number of years and it could be considered that it should remain on the grounds that it appears to work effectively to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content via cinema advertisements and
consumers' rights are properly observed. Some may feel also that the statutory backing is an essential element of the regime.
However, as set out earlier in the preceding paragraphs, others may consider that the age rating role provided by the BBFC in relation to cinema advertisements is already adequately covered by the self-regulatory approach of the industry and that
it therefore represents an unnecessary burden on business.
Option 1: Remove the requirement for BBFC classification of cinema advertisements
This option would potentially remove the financial and administrative burdens on the cinema advertising industry of having to submit each advert to the BBFC for an age rating. Arguably, this would also make matters simpler for industry, reducing
the additional time constraints resulting from both BBFC and CAA clearance.
The BBFC has indicated that the current average classification cost is around £111 per ad classified. There is an additional administrative burden for industry attached to this process in supplying the BBFC with hard copies of the adverts
requiring classification. The impact on the BBFC of removing the classification requirement would simply relate to their resourcing of this function.
However, could removing the requirement to age rate adverts shown in cinemas by the BBFC result in a reduction in consumer and child protection? The industry bodies and the CAA believe the existing advertising clearance system as set out in
paragraphs 4.6 to 4.23, underpinned by the ASA's non-broadcast advertising code (CAP Code), is robust enough to ensure there are no regulatory gaps, particularly in relation to child protection, and that suitable consumer safeguards will be
This option would also not place additional enforcement burdens on local authorities
On music censorship the government is nominally considering 4 options:
option 0: Leave the existing exemptions in place and untouched, on the basis that either the present arrangements do not give rise to concerns to an extent that would justify legislative change, or that removing exemptions would place unnecessary
or disproportionate burdens on industry for limited benefit.
option 1: Remove the exemptions from age rating for music, sports, religious and educational video works. This requires primary legislation to achieve. Removing the exemption would mean that producers would have to submit all film material to the
BBFC for classification before making them available for sale in the UK regardless of genre.
option 2: Lower the existing content thresholds for exemption so that more products are brought within scope of the age rating requirement (as we have done recently for video games). This can be achieved by secondary legislation.
option 3: Ask other parts of the video industry to introduce a self-regulatory parental advisory system for the currently exempt genres, similar to the BPI's PAS labelling scheme for the music-themed products.
My Government intends to bring forward measures to maintain the ability of the law enforcement and
intelligence agencies to access vital communications data under strict safeguards to protect the public, subject to scrutiny of draft clauses.
So there we have it -- the Communication Capabilities Development Programme will have it's day in Parliament. We don't know what the draft clauses will be or when we will see them, but the Government remains intent on pursuing legislation in the
coming session of Parliament.
The Home Office have been very good at saying what the problem is, but seem intent on keeping the technical details of what they are proposing secret. Is it any wonder that the public are scared by a proposal for online surveillance not seen in
any other Western democracy.
The Snoopers' Charter : the Communications Data Bill is about to be published by the government.
When the coalition was elected, they promised that:
We will end the storage of internet and email records without good reason (1)
Nick Clegg added:
We won't hold your internet and email records when there is just no reason to do so. (2)
Now, the government is saying that companies like Facebook and Google must keep your email and messaging records for 12 months, whether or not you are under suspicion: and that the records (not the content) must be handed over on the say-so of a
The government are asking for powers to intercept and collect information about who you talk to online by snooping on your Internet traffic, in case companies based outside the UK don't agree to hand over your information.
That makes us all a suspect. Instead of being under surveillance when there is evidence of wrongdoing, you will be under suspicion by default.
As announced in the Queen's Speech, the Government will introduce a law to protect freedom of speech and reform the law of defamation .
The libel reform campaign, nearly 100 organisations and 60,000 supporters including leading names from science, the arts and public life have been calling for legislation to reform the libel laws since December 2009. Congratulations to all on this
Now we need to see the details of the Bill and will work to ensure the reforms will do away with unwarranted chilling, bullying effects of the current laws.
Over the coming months, the Libel Reform Campaign will continue to fight for:
a public interest defence so people can defend themselves unless the claimant can show they have been malicious or reckless.
a strong test of harm that strikes out claims unless the claimant can demonstrate serious and substantial harm and they have a real prospect of vindication.
a restriction on corporations' ability to use the libel laws to silence criticism.
provisions for online hosts and intermediaries, who are not authors nor traditional publishers.
The Bill contains a number of measures of interest to ISPs, including a single publication rule and new defences for hosting providers and operators of websites with user-generated content.
The single publication rule
Currently, a claim for defamation can be brought up to one year after publication. This limitation is measured from the last time the allegedly defamatory article was published. However, viewing an article online essentially involves the host
transmitting a copy of that article over the Internet, which counts in legal terms as republishing the article. This means that there is, in effect, no time limit for making a defamation claim against the publisher of an online article, since the
law considers the article to be republished every time it is viewed.
The Defamation Bill solves this problem by introducing a single publication rule. If the Bill becomes law, the limitation period will be measured from the first time an article is published, rather than the last, as long as the manner of a
subsequent publication is not materially different from the manner of the first publication . This should go some way towards placing online content on an equal footing with offline content.
New defences for website operators
Under current defamation law, website operators and hosting providers risk being found liable for defamation if they refuse to take down content that a court later finds to be defamatory. A blogger could, for example, be held liable for failing to
remove a defamatory comment posted by one of her readers, while the ISP that hosts the blog could in turn be liable for failing to remove defamatory statements posted by the blogger.
The new Defamation Bill provides a weak looking defence in cases where the defamatory contents was posted by someone other than the website operator or host:
5 Operators of websites
It is a defence for the operator to show that it was not the operator who posted the statement on the website. The defence is defeated if the claimant shows that---
it was not possible for the claimant to identify the person who posted the statement, the claimant gave the operator a notice of complaint in relation to the statement, and the operator failed to respond to the notice of
complaint in accordance with any provision contained in regulations.
This seems hardly worth having as websites are generally are not in a position to meaningfully identify posters, and so the defence simply will not apply in the vast majority of cases.
One in three new customers choose to activate TalkTalk's network based website blocking feature, according to a recent
TalkTalk introduced the network-based content blocking feature it calls HomeSafe in May 2011 with Active Choice for new customers, meaning that new customers are forced to make a positive choice whether or not to activate the
feature, there is no default option.
TalkTalk is considering applying this Active choice rule to existing customers too, but ordinary customer churn gradually increases the number who have faced it, which TalkTalk estimates will reach 1 million households by March 2013.
They are right. Network level blocking is not the silver bullet may have portrayed it to be. Easily avoided, it is a crude tool that carries serious risks, from blocking legitimate business content to introducing new security risks into the
State intrusion into private lives will be reduced after the Protection of Freedoms Bill becames law today.
It will curb local authority snooping, see the destruction of DNA samples and profiles given by innocent people and radically scale back the employment vetting process which would have routinely monitored 9.3m people.
Millions more people will be protected from state intrusion into their lives through a sweeping range of policies which will restore common sense to government.
The Protection of Freedoms Act will see:
the scrapping of the Vetting and Barring Scheme and creation of a new Vetting and Barring Service to oversee a scaled-back barring regime focused only on roles working most closely with vulnerable groups
millions of householders protected from some town hall snoopers eg checking their bins or school catchment area
the scrapping of section 44 powers, which have been used to stop and search 100,000s of innocent people
the reduction of the maximum period of pre-charge detention for terrorist suspects to 14 days
DNA samples and fingerprints of more than 1m innocent people deleted from police databases
thousands of gay men able to clear their name of out-of-date convictions for consensual acts
thousands of motorists protected from rogue wheel clamping firms
The Act follows the review of counter terrorism and security powers and the scrapping of ID cards as the coalition government delivers on its agreement to put traditional British freedoms at the heart of the Whitehall agenda.
Home Secretary Theresa May said: Snooping on the contents of families bins and security checking parents who want to help out in their children's classrooms were never needed for state security and we have brought them to an end: I have
brought common sense back to public protection with this Act.
The Protection of Freedoms Act will also see:
an end to the fingerprinting of children in schools without parental consent
introduction of a code of practice for CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition systems (overseen by a new Surveillance Camera Commissioner) to make them more proportionate and effective
restrictions on the powers of government departments, local authorities and other public bodies to enter private homes and other premises for investigations and a requirement for all to examine and slim down remaining powers
the repeal of powers to hold serious and complex fraud trials without a jury
the liberalisation of marriage laws to allow people to marry outside the hours of 8am-6pm
an extension of the scope of the Freedom of Information Act and strengthening the public's right to data
widening of the existing offence of trafficking for forced labour and ensuring that UK nationals who commit trafficking offences anywhere in the world can be prosecuted under UK law
Commencement orders enacting measures in the Act will begin from early July.
Tim Loughton, the Children's Minister, has accused mothers and fathers of aiding and abetting pre-teens to open accounts
His whinge was in response to Labour MP Ann Coffey who urged the Government and mobile phone companies to do more to combat sexting , where teenagers send sexual pictures of themselves to each other using camera phones.
Loughton said parents had a responsibility to monitor youngsters online, adding:
Having a Facebook page, you should be at least 13 to do that. That is not legally enforceable.
We know, and I know from personal experience, the temptations for younger children to set up a Facebook site and get involved with those social media.
And I also know that in too many cases they do that aided and abetted by parents. So it's not just a question of giving information to parents, it's making sure parents are acting responsibly on behalf of their children too.
A Facebook spokesman said:
Facebook is currently designed for two age groups (13-18 year olds and 18 and up), and we provide extensive safety and privacy controls based on the age provided.
If someone reports an underage account to use then we will remove it, and use back-end end technology to try and prevent them signing up again.
However, recent reports have highlighted just how difficult it is to implement age restrictions on the Internet and that there is no single solution to ensuring younger children don't circumvent a system or lie about their age.
However, we agree with safety experts that communication between parents/guardians and kids about their use of the Internet is vital.
Just as parents are always teaching and reminding kids how to cross the road safely, talking about internet safety should be just as important a lesson to learn.
Nick Clegg is backing proposals to ensure that every individual is responsible for registering themselves on a national database.
The Liberal Democrat leader is understood to have been convinced that some form of sanction will be necessary to force people to add themselves to the database ostensibly sold as an electoral register.
Currently, one householder is responsible for filling in a form registering family members to vote. Under government plans, individuals will be expected to complete forms themselves.
Mark Harper, the Conservative Cabinet Office minister responsible, has written to colleagues setting out the plans. In the letter, he said: I propose that we should introduce a civil penalty for individuals who fail to make an application to register
when required to do so.
The plan is said to have provoked a row within the Cabinet, with Conservative ministers supposedly concerned about the impact on civil liberties.
A Cabinet Office spokesman said the government will bring forward proposals in due course .
Attorney General Dominic Grieve has described as an common sense a suggestion by MPs and peers that privacy injunctions should routinely be served on internet companies, as well as newspapers and broadcasters. Grieve told the Guardian:
That certainly seems to me an interesting suggestion. The interesting question is seems to me is, if this should be done on a more routine basis, then that seems to have some force. It is very wise; it's a suggestion of ordinary common sense
If a breach [of a court order] is brought to their attention then they will take action. But they can't act as a policeman on their network; I don't think that's necessarily helpful. They do need to act responsibly and clearly need to abide by the laws
of the land.
His intervention comes after a cross-party committee of MPs and peers urged the government to force Google to remove material banned by courts if it is not prepared to do so voluntarily.
The report, published last month by the privacy and injunctions committee, also urged Grieve to be more willing to take action against people who breach injunctions online, as happened with Ryan Giggs over his alleged affair with a reality TV star.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who serves as an adviser to the government on how to make public data more accessible, says the extension of the state's surveillance powers would be a destruction of human rights and would make a huge amount of highly
intimate information vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials. In an interview with the Guardian, Berners-Lee said:
The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing.
You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites ... or as an adolescent
finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it.
The British computer engineer, who devised the system that allows the creation of websites and links, said that of all the recent developments on the internet, it was moves by governments to control or spy on the internet that keep me up most at night
He said that if the government believed it was essential to collect this kind of sensitive data about individuals, it would have to establish a very strong independent body which would be able to investigate every use of the surveillance powers to
establish whether the target did pose a threat, and whether the intrusion had produced valuable evidence. But he said that since the coalition had not spelled out an oversight regime, or how the data could be safely stored, the most important thing to
do is to stop the bill as it is at the moment .
It is understood the Prime Minister is considering new rules that would oblige websites hosting such videos to introduce robust age verification systems similar to those used to safeguard children online gambling.
Music videos are currently exempt from BBFC censorship under the Video Recordings Act 2010. There are currently no legal restrictions on children downloading music videos of any kind.
The Prime Minister is understood to be disappointed with the music video industry's response to a Government report that whinged about sexualisation of childhood.
Cameron is to summon leading figures in the music video and social media world to Downing Street for a summit next month and threaten censorial new laws if more is not done to protect children.
Campaigners claim there has been a dramatic increase in the amount of sexual content and explicit language in music videos which can be accessed by very young children on computers and mobile phones.
Around 200 million videos are watched each month on Vevo, a music video website popular amongst the young. Although MTV, and other television channels, censor sexual content before the 9pm watershed the same is impractical for video-sharing websites.
Music videos were singled out for strong criticism in Let Children be Children, a Downing Street commissioned report written by anti-sexualisation campaigner Reg Bailey, head of the Mothers Union, a Church of England campaign group.
The government also remains 'concerned' by the style and promotion of so-called Lads' mags , such as Loaded, FHM and Nuts. This industry is also set to be called in to Downing Street over the summer to be asked what steps they are taking to
There is likely to be strong opposition to Government restrictions on accessing music videos online. Rio Caraeff, the chief executive of Vevo, has said that age ratings are unnecessary and would be difficult to enforce. Vevo has claimed the move would be
bad for business and would cut the royalties earned by some acts.
Elspeth Howe's Bill introduced to the House of Lords a few days ago required ISPs to default to a censored internet feed until an adult subscriber requests otherwise and verifies that they are adult.
The bill also requires internet devices to be sold with pre-installed blocking software and to provide information about internet safety.
However it is a private members bill and is rather muddying the water for alternative initiatives undertaken by industry in response to pressure from the government and nutter campaigners.
For the moment the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said it would not support the bill, as industry was already taking steps to address the issue. A DCMS spokesman said:
We understand the sentiment behind this Private Members Bill, but it isn’t something that Government would support. Much can be achieved through self-regulation and it can be more effective than a regulatory approach in delivering flexible
solutions that work for both industry and consumers.
Howe's Bill reads:
Online Safety Bill (HL Bill 137)
1 Duty to provide a service that excludes pornographic images
(1) Internet service providers must provide to subscribers an internet access service which excludes pornographic images unless all the conditions of subsection (3) have been fulfilled.
(2) Where mobile telephone network operators provide a telephone service to subscribers which includes an internet access service, they must ensure this service excludes pornographic images unless all the conditions of subsection
(3) have been fulfilled.
(3) The conditions are---
(a) the subscriber opts-in to subscribe to a service that includes pornographic images;
(b) the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and
(c) the provider of the service has an age verification policy which has been used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over.
(4) In subsection (3)---
opts-in means a subscriber notifies the service provider of his or her consent to subscribe to a service that includes pornographic images.
2 Duty to provide a means of filtering online content
Manufacturers of electronic devices must provide customers with a means of 20filtering content from an internet access service at the time the device is purchased.
3 Duty to provide information about online safety
Internet service providers and mobile telephone network operators must provide prominent, easily accessible and clear information about online safety to customers at the time the internet service is purchased and shall make such
5information available for the duration of the service.
Note, the definition of “pornographic” is taken from the Dangerous Pictures Act:
An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.
There is a growing backlash against the proposals to let the security services monitor every email, phone call and website visit by politicians from both coalition parties.
Chief among the Conservative rebels was Jacob Rees-Mogg MP, who suggested the proposals were hypocritical given the Prime Minister's previous stance against the control state .
In a 2009 speech Cameron said: Faced with any problem, any crisis, given any excuse, Labour grasp for more information, pulling more and more people into the clutches of state data capture.
Rees-Mogg said: The Government ought to remember why it favoured liberty in opposition. The powers it creates may in future be used by less benevolent administrations.
David Davis, the former Shadow Home Secretary, said the plan was an unnecessary extension of the ability of the State to snoop on people. What this is talking about doing is not focusing on terrorists or criminals. It's absolutely everybody's emails,
phone calls, web access.
Senior Liberal Democrats are also planning to rebel. They want the Government to clarify whether the legislation will allow GCHQ to access information on demand and without a warrant. The party passed a motion at its spring conference banning
communication interception without named, specific and time-limited warrants.
Tim Farron, the President of the Liberal Democrats, wrote on Twitter: We didn't scrap ID cards to back creeping surveillance by other means. State mustn't be able to trace citizens at will.
Big Brother Clegg tries the angle that there is no central database
While there will be no database, providers will be required to record all activities of their customers so they can be accessed if needed.
Nick Clegg said he was against the idea of a central database and the government reading people's e-mails at will. He claimed: I'm totally opposed as a Liberal Democrat and as someone who believes in people's privacy and civil liberties.
But in fact if the proposal is a rehash of what the police etc wanted under Labour, then they wanted the ISP's to provide access to their local databases so that the police could actually use it like a central database (albeit a little bit slower on
Clegg also claimed that the government will not ram legislation through Parliament . He said the proposals would be published in draft first to allow them to be debated.
Meanwhile Theresa May has been suggesting that the capability is primarily for tracking down terrorists and paedophiles. But of course that has always been the stated case, and it has never stopped the capability to be used for trivial snooping eg to
help councils investigate all sorts of low level nonsense.
LibDems have been fed some blather trying to get them on the government track
An internal Liberal Democrat briefing on Home Office plans to massively expand government surveillance was today passed to Privacy International. The document contains significant evasions and distortions about the proposed Communications Capabilities
Development Programme (CCDP), and is clearly intended to persuade unconvinced Lib Dem MPs to vote in favour of the proposal.
The very reason I loathe Labour with a passion is because of the obsessive control-freakery they displayed during their years in power. With their being voted out, it seemed we were rid of these big brother tendencies. Now it appears some in government
have been infected by much the same virus.
Kindly tell the Home Secretary where to stick her proposals for yet greater surveillance of communications.
The Prime Minister said that Nick Clegg was made fully aware during a meeting of the National Security Council of Home Office plans for police powers to monitor internet communications.
In a put-down to his Coalition partners, Cameron said it was important to remember that some of the most senior Liberal Democrats in government waived through the proposals before they were made public.
The Deputy Prime Minister hit back, saying he had made clear in the meeting that he would stop the laws unless civil liberties were protected.
Conservative ministers insist the new laws will simply widen the current scope of powers --- police and intelligence agencies are already allowed to monitor telephone calls, letters and emails. They dispute the idea that monitoring voice calls and other
communications over the internet amounts to snooping.
Prominent Lib Dems have expressed outrage that the changes will allow the police greater power to track online communications, such as on Facebook and Skype.
UK Police and intelligence officers are to be handed the power to monitor people's messages online in what has been described as an attack on the privacy of vast numbers of Britons.
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, intends to introduce legislation in next month's Queen's Speech which would allow law-enforcement agencies to snoop on citizens using Facebook, Twitter, online gaming forums and the video-chat service Skype.
Regional police forces, MI5 and GCHQ, the Government's eavesdropping centre, would be given the right to know who speaks to whom on demand and in real time and without a warrant. Warrants would only be required to view the content of
Civil liberties groups rightfully expressed grave concern at the move. Nick Pickles, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, described it as
An unprecedented step that will see Britain adopt the same kind of surveillance as in China and Iran.
David Davis, the former Conservative shadow Home Secretary, said:
The state was unnecessarily extending its power to snoop on its citizens.
It is not focusing on terrorists or on criminals, the MP said. It is absolutely everybody. Historically, governments have been kept out of our private lives. They don't need this law to protect us. This is an unnecessary extension of the ability of the
state to snoop on ordinary innocent people in vast numbers.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had resisted greater surveillance powers when in opposition:
This is more ambitious than anything that has been done before. The Coalition bound itself together in the language of civil liberties. Do they still mean it?
May is confident of enacting the new law because it has the backing of the Liberal Democrats, once strong supporters of civil liberties, but now obviously not. Senior Liberal Democrat backbenchers are believed to have been briefed by their ministers on
the move and are not expected to rebel in any parliamentary vote. A senior adviser to Big Brother Clegg said he had been persuaded of the merits of extending the police and security service powers
The Home Office said that the legislation would be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows , and said:
We need to take action to maintain the continued availability of communications data as technology changes. Communications data includes time, duration and dialling numbers of a phone call or an email address. It does not include the content of any phone
call or email and it is not the intention of Government to make changes to the existing legal basis for the interception of communications.
However these claims about not snooping on contents seem somewhat contradictory when considering the proposed extension to social networking. There the communications only exist as the contents of a web page. There are no dialled numbers and email
connections on Facebook, just the messages on your wall.
According to The Sunday Times, which broke the story, the ISP's Association, which represents communications firms, was unhappy with the proposal when it was briefed by the Government last month. A senior industry official told the paper: The network
operators are going to be asked to put probes in the network and they are upset about the idea... it's expensive, it's intrusive to your customers, it's difficult to see it's going to work and it's going to be a nightmare to run legally.
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of NO2ID said:
Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim.
Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.
Put aside privacy – and the government has – the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?
Guy Herbert, General Secretary of campaign group NO2ID said:
Astonishing brass neck from the Home Office, attempting to feed us reheated leftovers from the authoritarian end of the Blair administration. It is not very far from a bug in every living room that can be turned on and turned off at official whim.
Whatever you are doing online, whoever you are in contact with, you will never know when you are being watched. And nobody else will either, because none of it will need a warrant.
It looks like the Home Office is setting out to leapfrog China and gain the UK an unenviable position as the most monitored society in history. The automatic recording and tracing of everything done online by anyone -- of almost all our communications
and much of our personal lives, shopping and reading -- just in case it might come in useful to the authorities later, is beyond the dreams of any past totalitarian regime, and beyond the current capabilities of even the most oppressive states.
The vague assertion that all this is needed to deal with the usual bogeyman, terrorism, is worthless. It is hard to imagine any threat that is serious enough to justify it. But something that aims to make surveillance easy will create a demand for
surveillance. Unless it is subject to proper controls from the beginning, then the pretexts for access will multiply. That would mean the end of privacy.
Put aside privacy -- and the government has -- the scheme is an astonishing waste of money. What problem does it solve that is worth billions?
Comment: Same Old Policy
3rd April 2012. From David
It's interesting that the new email/phone snooping thing is *exactly* the same as that about to be brought in by Labour in 2006 - methinks this one is down to the long-term Whitehall Mandarins, rather than any particular party....