Moral grounds used to limit free speech
A new pornography law has many people in the United Kingdom concerned about their rights to Internet freedom.
The Western world is often excluded from discussions of censorship and the limiting of human rights, but when it comes to internet freedoms, news as of late seems to speak otherwise. With the recent leaks from Edward Snowden revealing the extensive surveillance programs being enacted by these supposedly forward thinking governments, the standing that these bodies have in the world of Internet freedom is losing ground.
The Internet provides a wealth of information to anyone who has access, be it the latest news from around the world, to the infamous "not safe for work" category.
The UK's new pornography law
The Washington Post reports the majority conservative British government is in discussions of drafting some of the strictest legislation regarding pornography in the West.
The legislation would make family-friendly filters automatic when subscribers sign up for internet service. On top of this, customers who wish to access content beyond these filters would need to tell their telecommunication provider whether or not they would like access to online pornography. These laws would effect about 21 million households throughout the country, according to the news source.
These changes would be designed in order to make child pornography more difficult to access in reaction to the death of two young girls in the county, as their deaths were a result of men who were reportedly addicted to the illegal content.
Another component of the legislation includes measures that would create a "blacklist" of search terms related to child pornography, that would return no results if entered into popular search engines such as Google or Yahoo.
Where is the morality?
Many free speech activists are against the passing of this legislation for a number of reasons, according to the news source. The biggest is that such laws could lead to a slippery slope. Similar blacklist policies have been enacted in countries such as China, which is home to one of the most regulated Internet networks in the world.
On top of this, the Washington Post argues, the lines of pornography are blurring what with the popularity of shows such as Game of Thrones which portrays sexual acts, sometimes violently so.
One of the odd parts of this legislation is the moral high ground that the government is taking. Even with the country's PRISM counter part, known as GCHQ, which effectively spied on U.K. citizens, the government still believes that it holds the ethos to say that it is in a place of moral standing. While dangers of child pornography are certainly present, should the government really be in a position to make moral calls regarding legal pornography given its track record?
Libel laws in the UK
The country has a history of being strict on the freedom of speech front when it comes to certain aspects of publication. An op-ed in the Columbia Journalism review explains that the country has historically had some of the most limiting libel laws, prompting Lord Justice Leveson to write a million word report on the regulation of the press.
The piece argues that the values of press freedom in the country have shifted to making sure that the right values of the country are put forth in its publication. Recently, it seems that instead of people being in favor of freedom of speech, its more so freedom of speech except when it comes to certain topics.
For those believe that their are limits to what would be blocked consider the care of a man doing research in London's British Library. He was denied online version of Shakespeare's "Hamlet," the Washington Post explains, due to its "violent content."