censorship bills currently working their way into law in the
UK, Australia and the U.S. legislate for government powers to
restrict and filter any website that it deems to be undesirable
for public consumption.
In the UK, legislation slated as the "Digital
Economy Bill", currently being debated in
the House of Lords, would allow the Home Secretary to place
“a technical obligation on internet service providers”
to block whichever sites it wishes.
11 of the proposed legislation “technical
obligation” is defined as follows:
A “technical obligation”, in relation to an internet
service provider, is an obligation for the provider to take
a technical measure against particular subscribers to its
A “technical measure” is a measure that —
(a) limits the speed or other capacity of the service provided
to a subscriber; (b) prevents a subscriber from using the
service to gain access to particular material, or limits such
use; (c) suspends the service provided to a subscriber; or
(d) limits the service provided to a subscriber in another
In other words, the government will have the power to force
ISPs to downgrade and even block your internet access to certain
websites or altogether if it wishes.
The legislation comes in the wake of amplified UK government
efforts to seize more power over the internet and those who
Mandelson also wants to impose harsh policies, via the Digital
Economy Bill, that would see users'
broadband access cut off indefinitely, in addition
to a fine of up to £50,000 without evidence or trial,
if they download copyrighted music and films. The plan has been
identified as "potentially illegal" by experts.
The legislation would impose a duty on ISPs to effectively
spy on all their customers by keeping records of the websites
they have visited and the material they have downloaded. ISPs
who refuse to cooperate could be fined £250,000.
This could include the authority to appoint private militias,
who will have the power to kick you off the internet, spy on
your use of the network, demand the removal of files in addition
to the blocking of websites.
Mandelson and his successors will have the power to invent
any penalty, including jail time, for any digital transgression
he deems Britons to be guilty of.
Despite being named the Digital Economy Bill, the legislation
contains nothing that will actually stimulate the economy and
is largely based on shifting control over the internet into
government hands, allowing unaccountable bureaucrats to arbitrarily
hide information from the public should they wish to do so.
The Digital Economy Bill is intrinsically linked to long term
plans by the UK government to carry out an unprecedented extension
of state powers by claiming the authority to monitor all emails,
phone calls and internet activity nationwide.
Last year the government announced its intention to create
a massive central database, gathering details on
every text sent, e-mail sent, phone call made and website visited
by everyone in the UK.
The programme, known as the "Interception Modernisation
Programme", would allow spy chiefs at GCHQ, the government’s
secret eavesdropping agency, the centre for Signal Intelligence
(SIGINT) activities (pictured above), to effectively place a
“live tap” on every electronic communication in
Britain in the name of preventing terrorism.
Following outcry over the announcement, the government suggested
last April that it was scaling
down the plans, with then Home Secretary Jacqui
Smith stating that there were "absolutely no plans for
a single central store" of communications data.
However, as the "climbdown" was celebrated by civil
liberties advocates and the plan was "replaced" by
laws requiring ISPs to store details of emails
and internet telephony for just 12 months, fresh details emerged
indicating the government was implementing a big brother spy
system that far outstrips the original public announcement.
Costing hundreds of millions in public funds, the system is
already being implemented by GCHQ with the aid of American defence
giant Lockheed Martin and British IT firm Detica, which has
close ties to the intelligence agencies.
Currently, any interception of a communication in Britain must
be authorised by a warrant signed by the home secretary or a
minister of equivalent rank. Only individuals who are the subject
of police or security service investigations may be subject
If the GCHQ's MTI project is completed, black-box probes would
be placed at critical traffic junctions with internet service
providers and telephone companies, allowing eavesdroppers to
instantly monitor the communications of every person in the
country without the need for a warrant.
Even if you believe GCHQ's denial that it has any plans to
create a huge monitoring system, the current law under the RIPA
(the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) allows hundreds
of government agencies access to the records of every internet
provider in the country.
In publicly announced proposals to extend these powers, firms
will be asked to collect and store even more vast amounts of
data, including from social networking sites such as Facebook.
If the plans go ahead, every internet user will be given a
unique ID code and all their data will be stored in one place.
Government agencies such as the police and security services
will have access to the data should they request it with respect
to criminal or terrorist investigations.
This is clearly the next step in an incremental program to
implement an already exposed full scale big brother spy system
designed to completely obliterate privacy, a fundamental right
under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Australian communication minister Stephen Conroy said the government
would be the final arbiter on what sites would be blacklisted
under “refused classification.”
The official justification for the filter is to block child
pornography, however, as the watchdog group Electronic
Frontiers Australia has pointed out, the law will
also allow the government to block any website it desires while
the pornographers can relatively easily skirt around the filters.
The list revealed that blacklisted sites included "online
poker sites, YouTube links, regular gay and straight porn sites,
Wikipedia entries, euthanasia sites, websites of fringe religions
such as satanic sites, fetish sites, Christian sites, the website
of a tour operator and even a Queensland dentist."
The filter will even block
web-based games deemed unsuitable for anyone over
the age of fifteen, according to the Australian government.
The broad attack on the free internet is not only restricted
to the UK and Australia.
The European Union, Finland, Denmark, Germany and other countries
in Europe have all proposed blocking or limiting access to the
internet and using filters like those used in Iran, Syria, China,
and other repressive regimes.
In 2008 in the U.S., The Motion
Picture Association of America asked president
Obama to introduce laws that would allow the federal government
to effectively spy on the entire Internet, establishing a system
where being accused of copyright infringement would result in
loss of your Internet connection.
In 2009 the Cybersecurity
Act was introduced, proposing to allow the federal
government to tap into any digital aspect of every citizen’s
information without a warrant. Banking, business and medical
records would be wide open to inspection, as well as personal
instant message and e mail communications.
legislation, introduced by Senators John Rockefeller
(D-W. Va.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) in April, gives the president
the ability to “declare a cybersecurity emergency”
and shut down or limit Internet traffic in any “critical”
information network “in the interest of national security.”
The bill does not define a critical information network or a
cybersecurity emergency. That definition would be left to the
president, according to a Mother
During a hearing on the bill, Senator John Rockefeller betrayed
the true intent behind the legislation when he stated, “Would
it have been better if we’d have never invented the Internet,”
while fearmongering about cyber attacks on the U.S. government
and how the country could be shut down.
Watch the clip below.
The Obama White House has also sought a private
contractor to "crawl and archive" data
such as comments, tag lines, e-mail, audio and video from any
place online where the White House "maintains a presence"
– for a period of up to eight years.
Recent disclosures under the Freedom Of Information Act also
reveal that the federal
government has several contracts with social media
outlets such as Youtube (Google), Facebook, Myspace and Flickr
(Yahoo) that waive rules on monitoring users and permit companies
to track visitors to government web sites for advertising purposes.
U.S. military also has some $30 Billion invested
in it's own mastering the internet projects.
We have extensively covered efforts to scrap
the internet as we know it and move toward a greatly
restricted "internet 2" system. All of the above represents
stepping stones toward the realisation of that agenda.
The free internet is under attack the world over, only by exposing
the true intentions of our governments to restrict the flow
of data can we defeat such efforts and preserve the last vestige
of independent information.