UK minister looks for delete key on user generated content
Burnham lets slip UK.gov real view of the net
The UKCCIS is go, with the aim of making the internet safe for kids. But is this the beginning of the end of the internet as we know it, or just a Minister reaching for the inevitable soundbite to round off a PR triumph?
As we reported, Monday saw the launch of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS). This is one of the chief results of the Byron Review (pdf), and unites the great and the good of the internet world, under the guidance of Gordon Brown, in an effort to make the internet fit for our children.
One way in which it will do that is by preventing children from accessing "inappropriate content". In its first release, the Council declared that it would "establish voluntary codes of practice for user-generated content sites, making such sites commit to take down inappropriate content within a given time".
Although the release may appear consistent with the principles contained in the Byron Review, it is actually a serious extension of it. Preventing children from accessing content that is inappropriate to them has been subtly upgraded to a requirement that user-generated sites take down "inappropriate content".
According to the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), who are also members of UKCCIS, the best route is "through end-user filtering and parental supervision". In this, they are singing from the same hymn sheet as the US Federal Court, which recently followed the Supreme Court in arguing that improvements in filtering software were helping to put control of internet access back where it belonged – with parents, not government.
ISPA added: "[We] would be concerned by moves to force the owners of user-generated content sites to proactively monitor and censor content. The vast quantity of content uploaded to such sites makes the possibility of applying rigid censorship views to content next to impossible."
Everyone involved in the UKCCIS – including the Department of Children Schools and Families – is keen to stress that it is not about censoring the wider internet. Unfortunately, the implication of the UKCCIS release completely contradicts this reassurance.
Which is where our soundbite comes in. Shortly after the launch meeting of the UKCCIS, Culture and Media Secretary, Andy Burnham, was heard to remark: "We have to start talking more seriously about standards and regulation on the internet.
"I don't think it is impossible that before you download something there is a symbol or wording which tells you what's in that content. If you have a clip that is downloaded a million times then that is akin to broadcasting.
"It doesn't seem over-burdensome for these to be regulated."
These are either the words of someone who hasn’t the first idea how user-generated content works – or alternatively, a man with a very sinister plan indeed. YouTube alone is estimated to generate ten hours of new content every minute. Similar ratios are to be found on other popular user-driven sites.
So it is possible he just doesn’t get it - that he doesn't understand how the user-driven aspects of the internet are making it into a very different place from the good old days of push-content web 1.0.
Mr Burnham is not a fan of the user-generated side of the internet. In a a speech to the Royal Television Society last week, he appeared to take another swipe at user-generated content, contrasting it unfavourably with opinion delivered by traditional channels.
"The internet as a whole is an excellent source of casual opinion," he said. "TV is where people often look for expert or authoritative opinion."
While the internet contains much that is tawdry and second-rate, at its best it is also more than capable of leading the way for the rest of the world. The main difference is that government can regulate broadcasting - but at present has no such luxury over the internet.
Governments across Europe are not altogether happy with the way in which user-generated content is allowing debate to open up on issues in ways they can no longer control. Recent abortive attempts by the European Parliament to clamp down on blogs are just one example of this trend.
In the UK, government has begun to take a more active stance on taking down content deemed to be "inappropriate" – with the Home Office actively pursuing plans to block material that is not actually illegal to possess.
So perhaps it is no coincidence that although the Byron Review considers a range of options for protecting children – of which content regulation is just one – the first pronouncements of a key Minister of State following the launch of the UKCCIS home in on regulation.
In June, the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee delivered its report on what it considered to be harmful content on the internet. Recommendations from that report are due to be released to Parliament next week. Those interested in the future shape of the internet in the UK would do well to keep an ear open for any further casual remarks by Mr Burnham. ®
we either have free speech or we don't
On one hand they tell parents to supervise their kids, whilst surfing the net, they also have them surfing the net at school too. Kids know what they shouldn't be looking at, but look at it anyway. How many kids have TV's, video recorders, HDD recorders, computers, mobile 'phones in their bedrooms where they can watch all sorts of nonsense *without* supervision? The only way round this is to stop access to it from home, and just have terminals in libraries or exclude us from using the net altogether. Just in case...
They've already made having certain files on your PC illegal (you could be a terrorist), which will have the side effect of stopping research into certain subjects such as nuclear physics (dirty bombs), child psychology (a right can of worms, dealing with kids and troubled youth), politics ( terrorism), chemistry (bioterrorism), religion (yet more terrorism), molecular biology (even more terrorism) etc. etc. Thing is, these are the kind of subjects the govt wants and needs for us to stay ahead in scientific development. If they stigmatise such things questions like "Why aren't there more male nursery nurses?" will never be answered. As other posters have said, the climate of fear will only destroy us. What's it to be, Mr Burnham?
"This involved a couple of very young kids pretending to be lost and distressed in the middle of a large shopping mall. The cameras recorded hundreds of people ignoring the children, and some people actually taking evasive action, before one woman had the courage to intervene to offer help."
And why did that take courage? Because the Think Of The Children!!! brigade would have the mum so scared that her first reaction on finding her children being led by someone else (especially male) would be "YOU STOLE MY CHIDLREN!!!!!".
On you tube a cute little girl talking about the some what vitriolic extreme right wing self wanking US TV talk show host Bill O'Reilly or a man whose vitriolic out pourings rants and bloopers routinely provides much more material for all comedians then he wishes one could say , but that be another tale.
Little girl link http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=k8x14cLGh5o
Bill O'Reilly's reply link http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=daF-8xAGybk&feature=related
Thus it becomes a moot question , as to whom is exploiting who by whom , so in one sense perhaps we should censor silly billy , until children are old enough to understand irony ?
In regard to this so called intertubes censorship by talking cowardly little steps of implying security by eliminating the improbable what if , rather then that which happens in real life under false pretenses and it ultimately became absolute suppression as the fatal European spring/summer of 1933 showed , perhaps one should read out aloud to all politicians voters the poem by Martin Niemoller "First they came for..........."
Wiki link with references at the bottom of the page =http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_they_came...
Although it is a well know fact to all cynics , that with many if not all self wanking so called patriotic charlatans pretending to be morally upright politicians "stupid is as stupid does" regardless of morals or ethics for they are so dumb and stupid words just cannot describe their level of incompetence or stupidity .
It's a sick sad world we live in .