UK Censorship

UK Censorship

25/04/2018

A while back we carried a post about the Digital Economy Bill in the United Kingdom Parliament.  Since then the Bill has become law, and it is now the Digital Economy Act 2017.  The British Government has appointed the British Board of Film Censors as the body in charge of administering Internet censorship.  Although to be strictly accurate, since 1984 (yes really) the BBFC have taken to euphemistically styling themselves the British Board of Film Classification.  What would George Orwell have said ?  The BBFC were expected to begin censoring the Internet in April but, for reasons that aren’t necessarily entirely clear, enforcement has been delayed until late 2018.Under the Government scheme all persons who wish to access parts of the Internet will have to register for identity checks with so-called ‘Age Verification’ companies. They derive their name from the fact that initially those who are to be excluded are persons below 18 years of age.  Who can guarantee that other identifiable groups might not in future have their rights limited.  Women maybe, or Jews, or Muslims, or Apostates, or Gulenists, or ….pick your group.  This is the not so thin end of a very dark wedge.Arvod has taken steps to prepare.   We will not be introducing identity checks on our visitors.  All visitors to the site from within the UK are now being redirected to a UK sub-domain, in effect a distinct and seperate website.  For the time being the UK site and the internationally available site are identical.  If the time arrives that we need to remove content to comply with the censor’s demands and avoid punitive sanctions, then under duress, we will replace anything we are not allowed to say or show with black space and a clear notice that it is censored.  You will always be better to access the Internet from outside the United Kingdom.We also recommend to our British visitors that you do not register with any “age verification” scheme anywhere on the Internet.  You will be signing up to a system that is designed to record and store indefinitely everything you click on as you move from site to site.  Logs will be maintained directly attributable to you as an individual.  Do not believe any assurance to the contrary.  It is simply untrue.  If you doubt this, consider the central claim of such assurances that only your age is being verified, not your identity.  Take 30 seconds to analyse the concept of establishing your age as an individual without relating it to your identity as an individual.  Does that make any sense, or is it ‘doublespeak’?  Beyond the ‘big data’ businesses planning on profiting from selling your data collected through these schemes, there will be untold numbers of fake age verification sites to entice the unwary into giving identity information to identity thieves.  You will have no way of knowing what kind of criminal you are giving your confidential information to until you find your bank account has been emptied. Users of the Internet from the UK and anywhere should be aware that you are under surveillance constantly.  For your own privacy and security we recommend that at the very least you install and use a VPN, and configure your browser carefully and use software (plugins) to block ads, block tracking cookies, clear cookies when you move from one website to the next, install a plugin to spoof your browser header to the most generic one, disable “WebRTC” and limit javascript to only essential sites.  Be wary of which VPN you use.  You can try one free by switching to the Opera browser.  We think however that using a paid-for VPN from a company that has a verifiable reputation for honesty is the best solution.  Consider for instance Private Internet Access which is making its code open source and thereby its commitment to honesty.  There are others.You may notice that we chose an image of goose stepping German soldiers from the Second  World War period overlaid by a mock-up of the once familiar, to British cinema goers, BBFC certificate.  Very obviously, we are suggesting that the work of the BBFC is equatable to the Nazi jackboot.  Perhaps the BBFC have a sense of humour.  Who knows?  But if not, they might well resent our unsubtle implication.  Are we being unfair?  We believe that the thing we should learn from History and never forget is that Nazism, Fascism Communism, all Authoritarianism did not begin with the Gulag and Auschwitz, they began with making and administering laws.  Laws passed for high sounding moral purposes, administered by well intentioned bureaucrats who were only doing their job as well as they could, who went home in the evening to their families, and were kind to animals and did good turns for their neighbours.  Nonetheless, by doublespeak and euphemism, the laws they administered deprived other people of their civil rights and ultimately killed them in horrific circumstances.  The first laws that any totaltarian regime makes are laws to confiscate freedom of expression.


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