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The future of the web – should government control what we can and can’t access or should we have a choice?

Written by Adam Bullas, January 14, 2014
 | The future of the web – should government control what we can and can’t access or should we have a choice?
14 Jan 2014

The future of the web – should government control what we can and can’t access or should we have a choice?

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The future of the web – should government control what we can and can’t access or should we have a choice?

Recently David Cameron announced that he wished to introduce a ‘default web filter’ with the help from internet service providers to stop pornography being accessed and “corroding childhood”. Before we get on to the filtering of websites, let’s take a look at the current situation.

Digital vs. physical material

For years now we have been told again and again that there is somewhat of a format equality between digital products such as MP3 downloads and that of physical such as CD albums, DVDs & Blueray. We have been told again and again from the MPAA that piracy is wrong as you ’wouldn’t steal a car’ so stealing a digital copy is no different.

With this being said why is there such disparity between physical and digital when it comes to opinions on inappropriate content?

Many newsagents sold ‘top shelf material’ which contains what some could define as inappropriate content as well as seeing sex shops on the high-street. Children frequently stop by shops and could be exposed to this type of content. We do not expect a nationwide ban on this material, we make sure that we parent and ensure our children aren’t exposed to such material through common sense and logical thinking.

Ask.fm social Q&A website controversy

Ask.fm has recently been targeted by many that have been calling for the website to be ‘permanently shut down’ because of as many as nine teenagers committing suicide as a result of bullying from other users.  Users of the site can ask anonymous questions and maintain conversations about any topics they choose to discuss. With the previously mentioned web filter that has been suggested, it would surely only be a matter of time before other websites such as Ask.fm would be filtered due to controversy irrespective of the fact it’s just a Q&A website.

The suicides linked to Ask.fm are a complete tragedy and they really do make us aware of the dangers of the internet and the power that can have over children and young adults. With this being said, is the right way to deal with this problem to take the website down? To just wipe all of this away and pretend it didn’t happen as well as filtering a perfectly legal Q&A website?

Hypothetically if the internet just went away, we would still have the same type of bullying going on in different forms. There have been suicides reported due to classroom bullying one person which resulted in a tragic suicide. Is the solution to ban the classroom? From my point of view this just highlights how under developed the governments understanding is of the internet is.

What is the solution?

To answer this, let’s go back to the earlier point of comparing the physical to digital. We have main roads that are known as accident hotspots with the amount of traffic that passes each day at high speed. Many people have died because of crashing at these dangerous zones because of not knowing just how dangerous the area was. With this being the case, other travellers pass through without incident taking extra caution on their way due to the nature of the road. Now, because of the tragic deaths that have taken place, should we close this road down so nobody can use it or do we better educate people on the very real dangers that exist on this road?

Education and local software solutions

This is what I think it comes down to. We need to better educate people and inform them of the very real dangers involved when it comes to letting kids and young adults onto the internet unsupervised and potential solutions. For households with young children, easily configured software can be installed onto your home network to stop porn and other adult websites being accessed. Solutions to these problems don’t have to come from the government. Once we give up and allow web filters to be controlled by the government, we are on a slippery slope that could possibly result in the controlled access of freely available information.

I get the impression that the decision makers in government don’t really understand the internet. These types of filters never seem to work as there are always ways to circumvent them. Even young adults these days are clued up on how to use a VPN or get around software restrictions. We need to start letting parents parent by educating them on the dangers of the internet, and showing them how local internet filters can be installed and applied if they wish to use one.

If you have an opinion on this, we would love to hear it! Please leave us a comment below.

Image credit – Tim Bouwer

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