UK’s great Internet firewall to censor access to esoteric and occult websites
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has recently set large segments of the world up in arms by deciding to set up a country-wide firewall that will block access to pornography unless citizens opt out. (Similar measures were tried earlier across the EU and summarily thrown out.) But the block apparently won’t be limited to porn: ISPs will also be forced to block violent material, extremist sites, pro-anorexia and pro-suicide sites, alcohol, smoking, web forums (?!) and even… esoteric material.
You may be saying to yourself, hell, how are they going to be able to sort out which websites are unacceptably pornographic, let alone which sites are “smoking” related? That’s a damned good question, and the answer is “with the broadest brush possible.” Huge chunks of the Internet will be effectively unreachable, and which sites go into the censorship bucket will be decided upon in secret, by unelected employees of big corporations, like China’s Huawei. Sure, you can untick the box if you want, but as David Cameron’s advisors will tell you, defaults are powerful and most users never change them.
By putting clamps on the Internet, governments are likely to not only alienate their citizenry, but also the ability of their own economies to stay competitive on the global stage.
The censoring of “esoteric material,” in particular, has pagan groups up in arms. (Presumably Ultraculture will be blocked from warping impressionable young British minds into lives stained with pernicious sins like thinking for themselves, questioning mainstream values and caring about the environment?) Pagan community discussions are being conducted at Wild Hunt and LAShTAL. Meanwhile, a new service called Immunicity has appeared which circumvents the firewall—better get hold of it before Cameron starts blocking access to ways to get around the firewall. Nikki Wyrd has another good examination of the issue at the UK-based chaos magick site Blog of Baphomet.
Such a New Inquisition, as Robert Anton Wilson might have put it, shows how terrified Western governments are of the Internet undermining not only their ability to keep secrets but also, by connecting people and services, many of their reasons for existing at all. If I was a government plutocrat sitting in the White House or 10 Downing Street and watching the Arab Spring happen due to Twitter, I’d be shit scared too. But in putting clamps on the Internet, governments are likely to not only stifle the flow of free expression and alienate their citizenry, they’re also liable to throw wrenches in the progress of online business and the ability of their own economies to stay competitive on the global stage.
It also, of course, raises massive questions about religious freedom, and the absolute human rights emergency of the state deciding that diverging from mainstream religious beliefs is apparently now forbidden.
How far will the UK (already revealed by Ed Snowden to be far more advanced along the surveillance-state path than the US) go in cracking down on Internet freedom—and will the United States follow suit? (I wrote up further analysis here.) Let us know how you feel in the comments below and at our Facebook group.