By: MarkJ - 30 October, 2010 (8:08 AM)
internet lawThe UK governments Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Ed Vaizey, has ominously proposed that broadband ISPs could introduce a new Mediation Service that would allow them the freedom to censor third party content on the internet, without court intervention, in response to little more than a public complaint.

Vaizey anticipates that internet users could use the "service" to request that any material deemed to be inaccurate or privacy infringing is removed. However we suspect that genuine complaints would probably get lost in a sea of abuse by commercial firms trying to attack freedom of speech and expression.

Ed Vaizey, Speaking at a House Commons Debate on Internet Privacy, said:

Nominet, the charity that is responsible for internet domain names, runs an extremely effective mediation service, so that people who are disputing the ownership of an internet domain name may be involved in a low-cost process to discuss how to resolve that dispute.

It is certainly worth the Government brokering a conversation with the internet industry about setting up a mediation service for consumers who have legitimate concerns that their privacy has been breached or that online information about them is inaccurate or constitutes a gross invasion of their privacy to discuss whether there is any way to remove access to that information.

I am sure that many internet companies will say that that is almost impossible, but when one hears stories such as that told by my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes North, one wants at least to attempt to give consumers some opportunity to have a dialogue with internet companies, as they would be able to do if a newspaper had inadvertently published that information.

We can't help but feel that Vaizey's final paragraph demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding, much as shown with his support for the controversial Digital Economy Act 2010 (DEA). Nominet's dispute system is relatively straightforward, where as asking an ISP to investigate any old gripe against something deemed by another to be "inaccurate" is immensely complicated and time consuming.

Ed Vaizey offered an example situation for his proposal:

I was struck by the comment from my hon. Friend the Member for Milton Keynes North about the women’s refuge centre whose address was put online, and it was then unable to persuade the organisation that was carrying that information to remove it. That organisation had not deliberately put the information online; it was simply the vehicle on which the information was available.

There may be all sorts of reasons why it was difficult to take that information down. It may be that having taken it down, the address simply popped up again elsewhere, but the fact that no meeting or dialogue could take place worries me greatly. I suspect that most hon. Members in the Chamber have had conversations with constituents who have seen information about them online and have simply not known where to turn.

Ironically Vaizey's argument also works against his proposal by recognising that such information could crop up again almost anywhere and would be very difficult to suppress and control. Physically trying to control general internet content in such a way simply isn't realistic and poses a serious danger to freedom of speech.

At the very least such power should not be placed in the hands of commercial ISPs and should only be used against dangerous content, such as child abuse images or terrorism material; the IWF already does this. In any case an ISP cannot physically delete such content because it does not exist on their networks and blocks are easily circumvented.

UPDATE 2nd November 2010

Comment from the ISPA UK .

An ISPA spokesperson told

"UK ISPs already use a system of notice and takedown which means that when an ISP is notified of illegal content hosted on its network or server this content is removed expeditiously.

ISPs also have acceptable use policies and terms of service, which all users agree to adhere to. If a user is found to be in breach of these terms and conditions by acting abusively, ISPs may choose to take action by removing the content. Furthermore, lots of individual sites and chatrooms may choose to monitor content or have report abuse functions to remove abusive material.

ISPA is concerned about the potential for any additional burden on ISPs and questions for example how a mediation service would work with content hosted outside the UK. ISPA will be talking to Government about the work that ISPs already do in this area and commenting in more detail when further information is announced."

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Comments: 16

asa logotimeless
Posted: 30 October, 2010 - 9:17 AM
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tbh this was expected, hopefully the argument doesnt hold water but then again going how the Digital Economy act came in l guess we are in for worrying times.

the idea may sound interesting in theory after all anything that has the potential to help rid us of the ability to stop paedophiles finding childporn is good in my books, however it does not address the root of that issue which ISPs cannot do anything about as they dont host the content.

in perspective this is just a worrying trend that the government want to censor information, take wikipedia the information there is freely available but its user contributed and as such is subject to inaccuracy.. guess that shall be blocked..

as a final point tho, any information posted and shared must already be publicly available if its not to be shared then it shouldnt have been made public at any point, equally you are what you share.
asa logoLegolash2o
Posted: 30 October, 2010 - 11:05 AM
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Oh great, here comes internet censorship...... This plan is not feasible at all.

This Ed Vaizey is once again showing us that he is not the right man for the job. Someone fire him please and get someone who is qualified in the correct field do the job instead.
asa logotimeless
Posted: 30 October, 2010 - 11:36 AM
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lets face it most of the government arent qualified for the job.. pretty sure one of the MPs dealing with financial things was a postman before he did his current job (found out through some discussion l had when l was at my part time job)

all in all they just show me what l already knew.. they have no idea and because of that fact they pass the buck, like l said if this goes ahead this will just be the start of censorship of beliefs that they dont agree with and eventually we will end up like china where anything that contradicts their way of thinking will be banned.
asa logoLegolash2o
Posted: 30 October, 2010 - 12:02 PM
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Imagine a government where they are all actually qualified in their jobs, and now go back to reality :P

I assume there is nothing we can do to get this guy fired? (wishful thinking) :D
asa logotimeless
Posted: 30 October, 2010 - 11:36 PM
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not going to happen.. lm sure most are there purely for the money.. and others just like the majority of the population think its someone elses job to protect them online which infuriates me.

its just like using your credit card in a shop, you dont tell anyone your pin because its private information, so why would you tell someone your phone number or home address online then complain after about all the silent calls or junkmail etc? as l said you are what you share online and if you dont want everyone to know dont make the information public domain!! and if its already public domain then stop complaining when someone shares the information.. censoring the internet cant stop that.
just like the Digital Economy Act, the government are showing just how little they know about the internet, if they made an effort to understand ld hold at least a little respect for them, but that wont happen
asa logosilly
Posted: 31 October, 2010 - 9:20 AM
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so the isp who uploads all govt websites would have to block them as they cant verify the data being uploaded. eg, if the govt said "we do not talk to terrorists" when they were behind the scenes etc...
asa logotimeless
Posted: 31 October, 2010 - 12:19 PM
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l think George Bush said it best.

"Terrorists are thinking of new and more innovative ways of harming our people, and so are we" in so many words..

tho he also said "Humans and fish can coexist" so who knows lol...

see: (view from start to finish for amusement)
asa logoknight
Posted: 31 October, 2010 - 4:16 PM
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they can shove their legislation up their backsides smile, the internet should be free from censorship. We are not living in some 3rd world police state or dictatorship but its increasingly becoming like this if we do not fight these corrupt rats in security services who have vested interests and the palace of Westminster proposing such changes.
asa logotimeless
Posted: 1 November, 2010 - 4:43 AM
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not going to happen... theres too many ppl out there who know so little about the internet and expect someone else to protect them.. all they see from their rose coloured glasses is someone looking like they are making an effort..

however they dont see the repercussions of such because they dont have enough knowledge.. problem is sometimes even teaching these users falls onto deaf ears because they have such trust in the government they dont listen to anyone else..
asa logosomeone who CAN read
Posted: 1 November, 2010 - 10:36 AM
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'internet companies' != ISP's

so your entire story goes out the window.
As I read it, the MP wants people to be able to tell the owner of a website (an 'internet "company"') to remove content if there are
"legitimate concerns that their privacy has been breached or that online information about them is inaccurate or constitutes a gross invasion of their privacy to discuss whether there is any way to remove access to that information"

Looks like a good proposition to me. There's no way it can work, but I want what he wants (if regulated fairly, yada yada)
asa logoSGLR
Posted: 1 November, 2010 - 11:13 AM
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There is no such thing as terrorist material.

Terrorism is attacking innocent people, often mass-murder, to try and get them to modify the policies of their government.

Simply knowing stuff that could be useful for the above situation is most definitely not terrorism. If you were to look into Wahabism, and have a passing interest in Chemistry, you can find yourself in a lot of trouble.

Ideas are not crimes, acting on some of them are. Do not play into the hands of those seeking to oppress and censor by going along with their bogeymen.

Even saying censorship is OK for child porn is risky, as any infrastructure for that will attract others wanting to censor.

Perhaps if the government weren't so idealistic about not raising tax on the rich they would be able to afford to fight the worst crimes in our society, rather than try to metaphorically sweep them under the rug?
asa logotimeless
Posted: 1 November, 2010 - 1:42 PM
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@someone who CAN read

actually, the way l interpret it is that they intend to get ISPs to block access to content that they believe is inaccurate or negates users privacy.. as in most cases they wont have access to delete such content hosted remotely, in this respect l see little point of censoring.. because this is what this article boils down to.. its not the fact the information is available its the fact that the argument used by the MP pretty much validates the ideal that the MP that suggested it has something he wants to hide from the UK population which will make them want to find out more..

Even saying censorship is OK for child porn is risky, as any infrastructure for that will attract others wanting to censor.
it already exists, and some ISPs do use it see: however its current usage is voluntary
asa logoMarkJ
Posted: 2 November, 2010 - 12:31 PM
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"Internet companies" is a general term that refers to ISPs too as Vaizey is not specific. He does not say "web hosting providers". If Vaizey comes out and clearly excludes internet access providers from what he said then I'll be semi-happy but at this point he hasn't done that.

Also consider that ISP often refers to hosting providers too. We have tried to get some clarification but the government don't reply unless you're called the BBC or Sky.
asa logoJeffrey A. Williams
Posted: 2 November, 2010 - 3:22 PM
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Has King George III risen from the grave perhaps? Do we
need third party mediation on content from ISP's which have
no broadly effective means of controling such content? This
is bloody wonderful < sarcasm intended >. Woops, 'Bloody'
may be a no-no word soon!wink
asa logoanymouse
Posted: 23 November, 2010 - 6:05 PM
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I can see where all this is eventually leading to, they big multinational corporate organisations want control of the net, and are influencing governments via cash incentives to implement ways in which they can achieve this,
Then you also have the power hungry governments themselves who also would like to get control of it, they see it ultimately as a platform to to gain from, with media film & music and of course television channels can no one else see their objectives here are we just gonna sit back and let it happen, ? i seriously hope there is more like payback is a bitch out there
asa logoanymouse
Posted: 23 November, 2010 - 6:12 PM
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Also it should not be the isp's responsibility this b/s has only come about because the other way was seriously flawed (acs law) (davenport lyons) they just won't stop the government ministers don't have a clue on these things, so crap like this gets passed, the whole DEB should be scrapped, i say we should call for a refrendum on this and see the outcome of it , if it's a no then that's it ,Mandelscum is out he should pay for this

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