“1984 was not meant to be an instruction manual”, reads an Internet meme I have just stumbled on. Yet the funny bribe at the UK’s government has an unfortunate reality to it. How long is it going to be before the Conservatives are handing out propaganda telling us that we supported censorship all along, and metaphorically frying our brains into a state of delusion in the process?
The UK Conservative’s party’s plans, published this week surrounding Internet censorship, detailed plans to block porn from citizens’ computers, with an opt-in process, hoping to eliminate the numbers of people accessing illegal porn. Some people, and I hate to use the word idiots, have idiotically claimed that there is nothing wrong with this. I ask what is right with it. The people who still wish to access illegal material can still do so, and everyone else suffers from living in a society parented by politicians that tell us what we can and can’t look at online.
It is assumed that anyone opting in to the unblocking of websites through this policy would be kept on some kind of list, shortening the number of names investigative authorities must go through in criminal circumstances. This basically criminalises the use of any porn whatsoever, in a society built around enough taboos to outweigh conversations we can have embarrassment-free already.
Illegal uses of the Internet should be dealt with appropriately. I don’t think anyone is going to dispute that. But policies like this take the approach of a teacher punishing a whole class for the bad behaviour of one student. It’s mad, unfair and solves nothing.
The main point people are thoroughly missing is this: you may never use, have used, or intend to use pornographic websites, but a democratic society states that your choice to do so or not is precisely that – your choice. Take that away and you take away democracy. Introduce Internet censorship and you’re taking a giant leap towards becoming one of the countries the West has otherwise heavily criticised for similar behaviour. Is that really what the UK wants? To put our hands up and say to the government “we can’t look after ourselves, will you do it for us please?”. Illegal porn is just one aspect of the Internet. Censor that and you will find someone speaking up for just about everything with a negative image, and then you must ask the question, ‘where will it stop?’. I doubt it would stop at all.
Give it a few years and we’ll all be checking our picture frames for hidden telescreens.