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UK.gov plans net censor service

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The minister responsible for internet regulation is planning a new mediation service to encourage ISPs and websites to censor material in response to public complaints.

Ed Vaizey said internet users could use the service to ask for material that is "inaccurate" or infringes their privacy to be removed. It would offer a low cost alternative to court action, he suggested, and be modelled on Nominet's mediation service for domain disputes.

Vaizey, who is communications minister, revealed the plan yesterday. He said he will soon write to ISPs and major websites including Facebook and Google to discuss the initiative.

He conceded that industry is likely to resist any attempt at greater regulation, but he is keen to set up a system of "redress" for the public.

"I think it is certainly worth government brokering a conversation with the internet industry about setting up a mediation service for consumers who have legitimate concerns either that their privacy has been breached or that information is apperaing online is inaccurate... to discuss whether or not there is any way that access to that information could be removed," he said.

"I'm sure that a lot of internet companies would say that is almost impossible, but... one does at least want to make an attempt to give consumers some opportunity to have a dialogue with internet companies on this issue."

Vaizey's announcement came in a debate called by Tory backbencher Robert Halfon, which focused on Google and in particular controversies surrounding its Street View mapping operation.

The Information Commissioner reopened his investigation into the harvesting of Wi-Fi data this week, but Vaizey said the Met has now decided not to launch a separate criminal investigation. ®

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