Melon Farmers Original Version

UK Internet Censorship

2015: Oct-Dec

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Update: Rated U for infantile...

UK Minister of Censorship Culture looks to extending BBFC music video ratings internationally

Link Here26th December 2015
Full story: BBFC Online Music Censors...Scheme for UK music publishers to get BBFC rating for videos
Ed Vaizey, the Tory culture minister, has pledged to try and convince international partners to adopt the British idea of providing age ratings for music videos on the likes of YouTube.

Currently videos from foreign, and in particular American companies, are unrated on Youtube.

Online music videos from the British arms of Universal Music, Sony Music and Warner Music are submitted for age BBFC ratings if they meet a long list of specifications under which they would qualify for a 12, 15 or 18 rating.

The current system means that while UK-made music videos which are only suitable for adults (of which there are hardly any) are captured by online parental filters, those produced in America are not.

Mr Vaizey revealed that the government will attempt to convince Britain's global allies to adopt the ratings system when challenged in a parliamentary written question. Vaizey said:

We were pleased therefore to announce recently that the industry and the BBFC were putting their online music videos ratings scheme on a permanent footing and extending it to include videos produced in the UK by independent labels, as well as by major UK labels.

We welcome this voluntary action by industry and will now be looking at how the lessons learned in the UK could help international partners adopt a similar approach.

Government is committed to working with labels and platforms towards seeing age rating on all online music videos.

In fact there are hardly any music video that have been rated 18. More typically videos are rated 12 or 15 for strong language. And of course such language is notably difficult to encode into international standards.

Definitely a policy more about politicking than practicality.



Offsite Article: I criticised the porn laws - and was targeted for censorship...

Link Here 18th December 2015
Full story: ATVOD censors Pandora Blake...Dreams of Spanking websites falls foul of internet censor
Pandora Blake eloquently describes the shameful British censorship of her award winning and ethical BDSM website

See article from



Update: ISP website blocking not widely used in the UK...

Ofcom report on the uptake of ISP website blocking suggests that about 10% of broadband users opt for the blocking to be turned on.

Link Here 18th December 2015
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn

An Ofcom report on Internet Safety Measures provides an update on the steps taken by the UK's four largest fixed-line internet service providers (ISPs) - BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media - to offer an unavoidable choice, both to new and to existing customers, whether or not to activate a family-friendly network-level filtering service. This followed an agreement between the Government and the ISPs, under which the ISPs committed to present the unavoidable choice to all new and existing internet customers by the end of December 2014.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) asked Ofcom to report on internet filters and online safety, including the measures put in place by the ISPs. This fourth report focuses on recent research, the progress made by the ISPs, and other developments during the past year.

Perhaps the most interesting stats in the report are the takeup of the ISP's web blocking systems. A decision on whether on not to turn on the blocking was made mandatory for all users in 2015.

  BT Sky TalkTalk Virgin
% Existing customers opting for blocking 5 62 5 11
% New customers opting for blocking 8 6 33 24
% All customers opting for blocking 6 30-40 14 12

The 62% of existing customers for Sky who have apparently accepted website blocking seems a little strange given that all ISPs have prompted all users to make a choice.

The subtle difference is that Sky went a little further and turned the blocking on for all subscribers who did not respond, whereas the others set their systems to require a selection whenever there was an attempt to use the system, but did not turn it on fro none responders. The inference is that the discrepancy is explained by a large amount of Sky subscribers that never use their broadband have been included in the 62% figure. Presumably the broadband is offered in packages with Sky TV when perhaps a significant number of customers don't use the service for browsing the internet.

Assuming that is the case then perhaps the 6% for new customers is a better estimate of Sky users who have turned on blocking. As a rough estimate, incorrectly assuming all ISPs are similar sized, the average uptake of network level website blocking is 10%.



Offsite Article: Happy Birthday Porn Protest!...

Link Here17th December 2015
Full story: David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban...Attempting to ban everything on the internet
Report from the Westminster porn protest, one year after the original 'facesitting' event

See article from



Offsite Article: UK porn laws a year on...

Link Here2nd December 2015
A porn actress and a dominatrix on destroyed businesses and censorship

See article from



Don't believe what Ofcom says, it's just angling to censor the internet as if it were TV...

Ofcom claims that kids are gullible and are too ready to believe what they read on the internet

Link Here20th November 2015
Ofcom writes:

Children are becoming more trusting of what they see online, but sometimes lack the understanding to decide whether it is true or impartial.

Ofcom's Children and Parents: Media and Attitudes Report reveals that children aged 8-15 are spending more than twice as much time online as they did a decade ago, reaching over 15 hours each week in 2015. But even for children who have grown up with the internet - so-called digital natives - there's room to improve their digital know-how and understanding.

For example, children do not always question what they find online. One in five online 12-15s (19%) believe information returned by a search engine such as Google or Bing must be true, yet only a third of 12-15s (31%) are able to identify paid-for adverts in these results.

Nearly one in ten (8%) of all children aged 8-15 who go online believe information from social media websites or apps is all true - doubling from 4% in 2014.

Children are increasingly turning to YouTube for true and accurate information about what's going on in the world. The video sharing site is the preferred choice for this kind of information among nearly one in ten (8%) online children, up from just 3% in 2014. But only half of 12-15s (52%) who watch YouTube are aware that advertising is the main source of funding on the site, and less than half (47%) are aware that vloggers (video bloggers) can be paid to endorse products or services.

James Thickett, Ofcom's Director of Research, said:

The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family. But these digital natives still need help to develop the know-how they need to navigate the online world.

More than nine in ten parents of 8-15s (92%) manage their children's internet use in some way - either through technical tools, talking to or supervising their child, or setting rules about access to the internet and online behaviour. Nearly four in ten parents (38%) use all four approaches.

Among the technical tools used by parents are network-level content filters offered by broadband providers. Almost six in ten parents of 8-15s (56%) are aware of these parental controls, up from 50% in 2014, and a quarter (26%) use them, up from 21% in 2014.

It appears that the vast majority of children do hear the advice given about staying safe online. Some 97% of children aged 8-15 recall advice they've been given, particularly from parents.

The large majority (84%) of children aged 8-15 also say they would tell their parents, another family member or a teacher if they saw something online they found worrying, nasty or offensive. However, 6% of children say they would not tell anyone.



Is porn anywhere near as harmful as religion?...

Bishop leads House of Lords debate on the harms of porn

Link Here6th November 2015

Pornography, That this House takes note of the impact of pornography on society.
Moved by Peter Forster, The Lord Bishop of Chester, 5th November 2015.


Here are a few samples from the debate, selected for being about the adult use of adult porn.

Peter Forster spoke of his experience of his clergy being jailed for  downloading child porn and then went on to ask about government measures to protect children before moving on to whinge about adult use of porn. He said:

I can understand this attempt to protect the free choices that adults may make and I acknowledge the dangers of trying in some way to ban pornography. In the internet age this is unlikely to be successful, even if attempted, and such attempted curbs can easily be counterproductive in other ways. It is sometimes said that if something is banned in the Old Testament it was going on quite widely, so there are real issues about how we respond. Today, I want to draw to our attention an issue we are not very happy describing and talking about. Doing nothing does not seem right either, given the evidence that pornography clearly harms adults as well as children, men and women, but especially women. My question to the Government, and to us all, is whether it is right to strike a post of neutrality in the face of the obvious damage and dangers of the adult use of pornography.


"I am sure no other civilisation, not even the Roman, has showed such a vast proportion of ignominious and degraded nudity, and ugly, squalid, dirty sex".

This is not the Bishop of Chester saying this but DH Lawrence, who wrote these prophetic words in 1929. What would he make of contemporary society? His vision was, I think, too idealistic, not least in how he saw human sexuality, but he did identify the problem that underlies the floodtide of unhealthy, objectifying, sexual pornography that we now confront. At its heart it is a spiritual problem, the problem of identifying and upholding a healthy view of human life in the context of the contemporary world's attempt to reduce us to an undignified bundle of unfulfilled appetites.

I look forward to this debate and to the range of views that I am sure will be expressed on this difficult and, as I have said, perplexing subject.

Lord Giddens (Lab) was not quite convinced about the harms of adult use of porn:

Pornography has always been driven largely by male desire, and this remains the case today. However, just as sexuality is changing rapidly, so is interest in pornography on the part of women. Some studies in the US indicate that as many as 40% of women now watch internet pornography on a regular basis. Many of both sexes participate in the making of pornographic materials, at least in the broad sense of that term, as the use of visual images via smartphones and mobile devices has become so common. Since much of this is historically unprecedented and is moving so rapidly, we cannot say with any confidence where it will lead. The regulatory issues are huge; they are, I think, far more complex than the right reverend Prelate indicated, as are those of drawing the boundaries between what is acceptable sexual experimentation and innovation, and what is not. There is a wholly new world out there which no generation of human beings has ever experienced before in the same way.

With some reservations, I support what the Government are doing, with the Minister at the forefront. I congratulate her on having been at the forefront of the digital revolution, this ocean of change, which is breaking through our society in an unprecedented way. The Government wish, above all, to protect the most vulnerable children, a necessary objective. It is crucial, as in the #We Protect strategy, to work directly with the major digital providers here. I know the speeches on this that the Minister has given in different parts of the world. I admire the dedication of the noble Baroness, Lady Howe, on this issue and her persistence with her Bill. Yet, speaking as a social scientist, I have to say that we must be systematic about these issues, not just draw things out of the air and draw extreme conclusions from them. Looking at some of the assertions that are commonly made, I was shocked to see how thin the evidence base actually is. When you look in detail at the research studies across the world, you see how superficial the materials are that support them. What in-depth evidence we have, there is not much and it is all moving so fast, points to a lot of complexity. I do not doubt that the phenomenon described by the noble Lord, Lord McColl, exists, but we have no clue about how general it is because the data are simply not there.

As a social scientist, I want work on these issues to be systematic, but we do not know how far regular exposure to pornography on the part of minors affects their sexual behaviour, how far it damages relationships, leads to addictive behaviour and so forth or, crucially, on what scale. We just do not know. Some have argued the contrary to what the right reverend Prelate has said, including full-time researchers in the field. They have said that pornography can substitute for impulses which otherwise might be expressed in more harmful ways.

My main point is that a great deal more research is needed, especially if intrusive policy is being considered, as indeed it is. Again, speaking as a practising social scientist, I hope that the Government will provide some funding for such work, as otherwise well-intended policies could simply rebound.

Childhood itself is changing in the digital age, perhaps radically. As Philippe Ariès famously argued, childhood barely existed historically. In the past, even young children dressed like adults, worked on the farm at a very early age and were constantly in direct contact with adult sexuality. They had no option, because they almost always slept in the same room, and quite often in the same bed, as adults. The notion of the "innocent child", which we have come to see as universal, was in fact an 18th-century invention. In the digital age, some have argued--and I think there is some force to this--that childhood is again disappearing, because it is simply not possible to separate the younger generation from the adult world. Children are becoming what are called "kidults", and kidults are quite a mixture of the child and the adult. My main point is that the subtleties and the unknowns in all this simply must be borne in mind by policy makers.

I am strongly in favour of empowering parents as far as possible, and providing the technology for them to supervise what their children watch. They must work in direct conjunction with schools. The role of the state should be confined very largely to areas of directly illegal activity. However, I stress strongly that there is a very fine line to tread. If children are shielded too much, and for too long, they may not be able to cope when plunged into the maelstrom that is sexuality today. We must confront the uncomfortable truth that, as the first truly digital generation, children today might know more about the temptations, and even the threats, of the online world than their parents do.

Lord McColl of Dulwich:

Is the noble Lord seriously suggesting that no harm is being done, despite the fact that the majority of 11 year-old children are watching on the internet the most appalling, violent pornography, mainly directed at women?

Lord Giddens:

Not at all, because, as I said, I support the #We Protect strategy. I said strongly that I backed that strategy and that we must protect children. The difficulty is knowing where the boundaries are, how far things that are said very commonly really are the case, because we do not have enough research on those issues. We must have that research, and we must not plunge into policies that are based on inadequate information and research. We must realise that this is a world undergoing gigantic change such that we have never experienced before, at least in my view. We have to protect children, but we have to do so against the background of a world that is just swirling away from our control at the same time.

Lord Parekh (Lab):

All this is a matter of concern. What do we do about it? This is where I am more inclined to agree with my noble friend Lord Giddens. In a consequentialist argument, what evidence can one show that, for example, addiction to pornography can lead to extramarital relations or lots of other things that have been mentioned? The evidence is difficult to show and to demonstrate. It is the question of positive correlation between undesirable consequences and the practice of pornography. The second, far more important, difficulty has to do with the fact that we live in a liberal society where we cherish individual liberty and personal autonomy. In that kind of society people prefer to regulate their sex lives themselves. If some of them say that they enjoy sadomasochistic violence, who are we to say that sexuality should not be mixed up with violence, that it is not to be allowed? If they say they prefer a relationship in which some kind of consensual mutual degradation is a part of their enjoyment, who are we to say they cannot? The question is thus twofold. What is the evidence that it has certain kinds of consequences and, more importantly, in a liberal society are we in a position to tell people how they should live their lives, especially an area of life as intimate as this?

That does not mean that we cannot lay down certain broad limits. We could say, for example, that sadomasochistic violence should be based on consensual acts or the harm should not be irreparable or whatever. Likewise, we might be able to say, as one of the government documents points out, that you cannot have sexual intercourse with a corpse or an animal. One can impose those sorts of limits on this, but beyond that, it is difficult to go and therefore some form of pornography is bound to remain a part of our life.

Perhaps the best I don't believe in censorship... BUT ... was from Lord Cormack (Con):

I am not one of those who believes in severe censorship and prohibition. I am not a libertarian Tory, but I am sufficient of one to recognise that as much freedom of choice that is possible should be encouraged, BUT --and there is a very big but here--those who purvey sadistic images, sex without love for commercial gain, caring not whom they damage in the process should be regarded as pariahs. We need to devise a proper structure and scheme to ensure that the penalties that those people face are enormous and potentially deterrent. To pollute the minds of the young is as damaging and despicable as to pollute the oceans. If some company by design or inadvertently does the latter, we expect them to bear a very heavy responsibility and price.

We have to devise a scheme, and I look to my noble friend the Minister to give some encouragement, to translate the Prime Minister's pledges into action, by making it a very severe offence--the noble Lord, Lord Parekh, touched on this in his speech--to purvey pornography. It is not just a question of locks and checks and balances and voluntary agreements. It is a case of dealing with those who are guilty of a very real offence. I hope we can progress from this debate not only to define the offence in more detail but to come up with punishments that really punish.

Baroness Murphy (CB) points that there several examples of the availability of porn correlating with reductions in sexual offences:

I am going to ignore for the moment the pornography which is so prevalent in society that hardly anybody worries about it any more. I am talking about the stuff available in hotel rooms that can be subscribed to, the top-shelf magazines, and the sex videos on sale in R18 shops, only for adults. Much of it is pretty silly stuff. It is highly enjoyable for those who like watching ordinary heterosexual pornography. It is used by a huge proportion of the population. Some 40% of women now read erotic literature, which is more or less pornographic. Look at the success of Fifty Shades of Grey . Heavens--that is a horrible piece of literature! For those who have not looked at it, it isbasically a bit of sado-masochism and really rather nasty, but it is popular and has been read and, I think, enjoyed. Let us understand how widespread the issue is.

I think noble Lords are more concerned with the possible effects of watching explicit sexual violence and the degradation of women on screen, and the effect that might have on children and wider society. Pornography is broadly available, but I remind your Lordships that it is still illegal to manufacture and put this stuff on the internet. We already have quite draconian legislation to stop certain sorts of material becoming available. Noble Lords might say, "We are not very good at implementing it". That might be the debate we should be having. We should be asking the Minister why controls on children's access to pornography are not more effective. The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, mentioned bestiality. Well, making a video of bestiality is illegal. We should think about what we are going to do to implement existing legislation.

The paucity of research needs to be brought home to us. One of the problems is that no evidence of harm is not the same as evidence of no harm--that is so with all such research. Some would say that we should not hang around waiting for evidence to emerge. However, I suggest that we have no evidence that, for example, there is a rise in violent or sexually aggressive crime. In fact, violent crimes have dropped dramatically over the last 15 years in this country. In the United States, where internet porn is even more readily available, there has been a dramatic decrease in aggressive and violent crime over the last 25 years; indeed, recorded sexually aggressive crime against children has actually gone down.

Noble Lords who have looked at the evidence from Japan will know that the Japanese watch much more violent, difficult and horrible porn than people do here, and they have one of the lowest rape rates. Other misogynist societies--I include Japan as marginally misogynist--have much lower rates of rape. These issues are very complicated and require a lot more looking at from the social point of view and many multifactorial points of view. We cannot say that it is simply pornography that is creating some of these ills in society.

One of the great problems over the last 30 years is that the systematic evidence has been laboratory-based. It has focused on the theoretical impact--on people reporting the impact of pornography. Forgive me for using this language, but pornography is there to aid masturbation. Much of the literature is about the impact of watching pornography without masturbating. People may say, "By looking at some of this research, we are creating completely spurious behaviours which people never engage in". In the same way, much of what children are exposed to--particularly very young children--they experience before they have any understanding of the broader context. Noble Lords may say that that is a cause for huge anxiety, and it probably is, but I do not think we should leap to conclusions about the impact of the research.

Neil Malamuth, an American whose research over 30 years has probably added more to the good literature than anyone, has recently done several meta-analyses of available data, not all of it very good. He suggests that there are good correlations--that does not mean causality--between the use of very violent and sexual-aggressive porn and a small number of violent young men who are already predisposed to violence and will use that porn. However, there is very poor evidence of wider usage.

Let us think for moment about how we use our fantasies. Have your Lordships ever fantasied about murdering somebody? Some may fantasise about murdering their party Whip, from time to time. The reality is that noble Lords go away, have a fantasy about killing somebody and the very fantasy itself is helpful and allows them to come back and vote, having missed the opera, football or whatever it is they were going to watch. Fantasies do not translate into behaviours, and that is the core problem. Sexual fantasies are no different; they do not translate into behaviours.

An overwhelming number of viewers do not report problems with pornography. As for relationship problems that people experience when their marriages are failing, is it surprising that people who are not getting sex at home go away and use pornography? No, it is not. These things probably reflect difficulties, not the other way round. We do not know if it is the proverbial chicken or the egg, so we do not know whether this accessibility to porn is a difficulty.

My time is up. Noble Lords get my gist: let us be cautious about this. By all means let us protect children--I am interested to hear what the Minister has to say about that--but let us not be too virulent about an issue that we hardly know anything about.

And general agreement from Lord Scriven:

We have to be clear that porn is here to stay; it will not go away. It is the same debate as we face in discussing drugs.

If it is a moral issue and here to stay, then, as the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, and the noble Lord, Lord Giddens, said, we will need to prove the harm before setting out our exact response. If consenting adults decide to watch or make porn, and if there is no harm, what should be the role of legislators and government? Clearly, as we have talked about, there is harm when it involves a corpse or bestiality or issues to do with children, but if consenting adults decide to use porn to live out fantasies or even to spice up their own sex life, what role is there for legislators? I would say that it is very limited indeed.

As Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures at the University of Sunderland, has said, pornography is about fantasy, and in no other area is the use of the imagination regulated. That is what we are talking about in this debate--putting in place the safeguards we have described while dealing with something that, for most people, is fantasy. As has been suggested, the evidence is not one-sided or conclusive. I would suggest that, as the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, said, for most people who watch pornography, it is a matter of fantasy. Once the watching is done, they do not go out into the real world to try to live out their fantasy. A small proportion will because of personality issues--they  are predisposed to violence--not because of the pornography itself. That is what we have to think about in this debate.

If we are to clamp down or take similar action we will need to prove harm beyond doubt, not simply use vague and self-selecting online surveys, as some noble Lords have done today. That is not evidence. Surveys are very different from evidence. Is harm being caused? I will cite two studies that might offer a different view from that offered earlier in the debate.

In 2010, the European Commission conducted a survey across a number of European countries which concluded that there is no evidence of a causal link between watching pornography and sexual violence or crime apart from in a small sample of males who were already disposed to violence. That exactly mirrors what the noble Baroness, Lady Murphy, said. In 2011, Milton Diamond conducted an interesting study of the Czech Republic, where pornography had been forbidden but then was allowed. The sexual habits, behaviours and interactions of adults were observed over a period of time. The report concluded that there was no change at all in the levels of sexual violence or relationship violence between individuals apart from in a small number of people who were predisposed to violence. So when we are talking about the impact of pornography on society, we have to talk about personality disorder rather than pornography itself. It would seem that some people are predisposed to do harm to others. We need to look at that a lot more rather than make blanket statements. Most people who watch porn use it as a fantasy but do not live it out. They live successful, useful and what would be seen as normal lives with their families.

Others see pornography as emancipating. About a month ago, there was a very interesting programme on Radio 4 called "Can Porn Be Ethical?" in which feminist pornographers said that they used pornography as a positive way of showing relationships. They talked about how it emancipates them and gives them power in an area where they were not seen as powerful. Not all porn is the same, as has already been said. Some feminists use pornography as a way of showing an alternative. As a feminist, Petra Joy, said, it is a "political thing" allowing her to change the model of sexuality and show it in a more realistic way. She said that she is able to develop the relationship as well as the sexual part of pornography and gives her some control as a woman.

I finish with a quote from Myles Jackman, a lawyer who specialises in this area. He said:

"Pornography is the canary in the coalmine of free speech: it is the first freedom to die".

I want noble Lords to think about that. Without proving harm and showing that it is pornography itself that is causing it, we are in an area of legislating unnecessarily. I accept, as everybody who has spoken in your Lordships' House today has said, that there are certain laws about protecting minors and certain issues about technology that we must address. As humans, we also have to be clear that it is the human relationship with the technology that will solve the problem.

There is no justification to say that, outside this House, the fires of hell will be burning because society is degrading into a pornographic cauldron of disrepute. That is not the case. I believe that more research is needed and that we must understand that most humans who interact with pornography do so in fantasy and do not live it out. As there is such a paucity of evidence, I ask the Minister whether we could do here what we do or have started to do on drugs: to have an evidence-based solution rather than a kneejerk reaction to online surveys or one based on assumptions about what is happening in society.

On the whole the debate seemed to favour keeping out of consensual adult bedrooms appreciating that there is much enjoyment and very little evidence of harm.

Something one can hardly say about religion. All the evidence of harm you need is the extraordinarily long list of all the people killed in the world this year in incidents linked to religion.



Update: Opting Out of Net Neutrality...

Cameron claims an EU opt out from European net neutrality rules banning opt out website blocking

Link Here29th October 2015
Full story: Internet Blocking Adult Websites in UK...Government push for ISPs to block porn
For a short while there was hope that new European legislation on the subject of net neutrality may disallow opt out ISP website blocking. However David Cameron was quick to claim that he had some sort of opt out from this area of EU legislation and further more he would dream up some UK legislation that would allow such censorship schemes to continue operating.

During Prime Minister's Questions this week , the PM was asked whether the EU's new network neutrality regulations, just approved by the European Parliament, would prevent access providers from implementing adult content filters. The regulations forbid blocking or throttling of online content, applications and services .

The Prime Minister promised to legislate to make sure that filtering continued and told MPs:

Like my hon. Friend, I think that it is vital that we enable parents to have that protection for their children from this material on the internet. Probably like her, I spluttered over my cornflakes when I read the Daily Mail this morning, because we have worked so hard to put in place those filters. I can reassure her on this matter, because we secured an opt-out yesterday so that we can keep our family-friendly filters to protect children. I can tell the House that we will legislate to put our agreement with internet companies on this issue into the law of the land so that our children will be protected.  noted that it is not yet clear whether this would mean legislating to ensure that access providers are permitted to provide parental filters, or legislating to require them.

Comment: Open Rights Group

29th October 2015. See  press release from

Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group (ORG) said:

We welcome the opportunity to have a debate about filters, which are flawed, censor websites and do not necessarily keep children safe online.

Customers should be given the choice to opt-in to filters, they should not be switched on by default. Parents also need to be made aware that filters may overblock sites that are suitable for children and also fail to block sites that are inappropriate.

However, we welcome Cameron's call for legislation so that at least we can challenge this dreadful idea.

ORG has developed a tool at which monitors blocking by filters. At its launch, we found that 1 in 5 websites were blocked by parental controls. Sites that have been blocked include small businesses as well as charities and education sites that are specifically aimed at young people.

ORG has also created a satirical film about filters called the Department of Dirty .



Extract: The Great Firewall of Britain...

An extract from the government's Counter-Extremism Strategy reveals a propaganda 'network of credible commentators' to challenge internet extremism

Link Here21st October 2015
Full story: Extremism in the UK...UK government introduces wide ranging ban on extremism

Contesting the online space

63. We are already working in partnership with industry and the police to remove terrorist and extremist material. Cooperation with industry has significantly improved in recent years. Removals at the request of the police have increased from around 60 items a month in 2010, when the unit responsible was first established, to over 4,000 a month in 2015, taking the total to 110,000 pieces of propaganda removed.

64. However, a fundamental shift in the scale and nature of our response is required to match the huge increase in extremists' use of the internet. This will involve close partnership with the public and industry to do two things: first we need to empower people to use the internet to challenge extremists online; and second we will work with social media and communications providers to ensure extremists do not have open access to their platforms.

65. To empower those who wish to challenge extremists online, we will continue to:

  • support a network of credible commentators who want to challenge the extremists and put forward mainstream views online;

  • train a wide range of civil society groups to help them build and maintain a compelling online presence, uploading mainstream content so that the extremist voice is not the only one heard;

  • run a national programme to make young people more resilient to the risks of radicalisation online and provide schools and teachers with more support to address the risk posed by online radicalisation; and

  • build awareness in civil society groups and the public to empower internet users to report extremist content.

66. And we will go further to limit access to extremist content online. In particular we will:

  • create a group that brings industry, government and the public together to agree ways to limit access to terrorist and extremist content online without compromising the principle of an open internet. We will learn from the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which has been successful in tackling child sexual exploitation content online; and

  • continue to support greater use of filtering, working with industry to develop more effective approaches.

67. Communications service providers have a critical role in tackling extremist content online. We have seen the considerable progress they have made in tackling online Child Sexual Exploitation. We now look to them to step up their response to protect their users from online extremism. As the Prime Minister made clear in his July 2015 speech,... is now time for radicalisation . We need industry to strengthen their terms and conditions, to ensure fewer pieces of extremist material appear online, and that any such material is taken down quickly.

68. Using the internet -- both to confront extremist views and limit access to extremist content -- is crucial if we are to challenge extremist ideologies in our modern society. Alongside this is a need to promote the positive message that it is possible to reconcile your faith identity and national identity. By contesting the online space and presenting compelling alternatives to the extremist worldview, we will work in partnership with others to keep pace with the extremists' use of the internet.

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