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calendar   Sunday - December 28, 2008

Government crackdown on offensive and harmful online activity to be launched in the New Year.

Well great. About time because, “it’s all for the kids.” Right?

Sure it is.  To start with.
But I have a worry here.  Please note he also would like to bring the office of the President (soon to be the O man) into this.
According to my reading, American sites could be involved.  Hey, the French already have Yahoo and Google restricted in some ways.
I just do not have a very trusting nature with regard to any govt. that talks about censorship. 

Having said all that, I do recognize there is a problem and there might be content online that’s totally off the wall and encourages behavior.
We know there are sites out there where those who are so inclined can find info on how to make explosives. Do we need that online?

I can’t pretend to have answers. Only questions. Bottom line?

I get nervous when officials with titles like “Culture Secretary” (Minister for public enlightenment and propaganda?) call for bans.  I’m never sure govts. know where the line gets drawn.

Internet sites could be given cinema-style age ratings as part of a Government crackdown on offensive and harmful online activity to be launched in the New Year, the Culture Secretary says.

By Robert Winnett,
Deputy Political Editor

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, Andy Burnham says he believes that new standards of decency need to be applied to the web. He is planning to negotiate with Barack Obama’s incoming American administration to draw up new international rules for English language websites.

The Cabinet minister describes the internet as “quite a dangerous place” and says he wants internet-service providers (ISPs) to offer parents “child-safe” web services.

Giving film-style ratings to individual websites is one of the options being considered, he confirms. When asked directly whether age ratings could be introduced, Mr Burnham replies: “Yes, that would be an option. This is an area that is really now coming into full focus.”

ISPs, such as BT, Tiscali, AOL or Sky could also be forced to offer internet services where the only websites accessible are those deemed suitable for children.

His plans to rein in the internet, and censor some websites, are likely to trigger a major row with online advocates who ferociously guard the freedom of the world wide web.

However, Mr Burnham said: “If you look back at the people who created the internet they talked very deliberately about creating a space that Governments couldn’t reach. I think we are having to revisit that stuff seriously now.” It’s true across the board in terms of content, harmful content, and copyright. Libel is [also] an emerging issue.

“There is content that should just not be available to be viewed. That is my view. Absolutely categorical. This is not a campaign against free speech, far from it; it is simply there is a wider public interest at stake when it involves harm to other people. We have got to get better at defining where the public interest lies and being clear about it.”

Mr Burnham also wants new industry-wide “take down times”. This means that if websites such as YouTube or Facebook are alerted to offensive or harmful content they will have to remove it within a specified time once it is brought to their attention.

He also says that the Government is considering changing libel laws to give people access to cheap low-cost legal recourse if they are defamed online. The legal proposals are being drawn up by the Ministry of Justice.

Mr Burnham admits that his plans may be interpreted by some as “heavy-handed” but says the new standards drive is “utterly crucial”. Mr Burnham also believes that the inauguration of Barack Obama, the President-Elect, presents an opportunity to implement the major changes necessary for the web.


“The change of administration is a big moment. We have got a real opportunity to make common cause,” he says. “The more we seek international solutions to this stuff – the UK and the US working together – the more that an international norm will set an industry norm.”

THE REST OF THE STORY HERE


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 12/28/2008 at 11:11 AM   
Filed Under: • Blog StuffGovernmentInternationalUK •  
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