Saturday, 27 November 2010

Danger of censorship under the guise of crime prevention

Are we seeing the beginning of attempts to control the internet if material embarrasses the government? Guido Fawkes' runs a massively influential English political blog. Today he has posted an article regarding an agreement by Nominet ("which controls the .uk part of the internet") to allow the police to take down any website without recourse to the courts.

Guido refers to Richard Baron's article Internet censorship on his blog Analysis and Synthesis. The post includes a well-argued letter that he has written in response to Nominet's request for feedback.

Of course we all want sites that run scams, show child porn, or facilitate terrorism to be taken down. The question at issue is whether this is simply a decision to be made by the police or whether some kind of due process (such as obtaining a court order) should be observed in order to ensure that such censorship is not inflicted arbitrarily. I agree with Richard Baron that sites should not be closed down simply because they express "extreme" views.

The danger for Catholic blogs is that "equality" legislation is increasingly opposed to the free expression of Catholic doctrine. Pope Benedict reflected on this in some of the less controversial parts of his recent interview "Light of the World" and in his excellent book "Truth and Tolerance". If law enforcement agencies are allowed to decide motu proprio that a site must be closed down, we have then moved another step nearer to a police state.

Guido has some good advice in his post about spreading one's internet footprint around in various legal jurisdictions.
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