It’s not easy being a government in the age of the internet and pretending to have power over something that is essentially beyond control, but that doesn’t stop them trying.
The British government is ignoring its previous online mishaps and outlined tough new measures to police the internet, which is all well and good, but all it’s going to do is make Britain a global center for Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
If China or, heaven forbid, Russia were aiming to introduce similar measures (and they are) it would be (has been) called a crackdown, censorship, or an authoritarian attempt to control cat videos – but this is Britain, so the motives are purely noble.
To boil the complexities of argument down as I see them, it’s offering protection from cyber-bullies, vs. the ability to insult people free of consequence, which is the very life blood of the internet and social media.
Activists I suspect define the concept of online freedom of speech as the ability to speak truth to power and release WikiLeaks-style secrets to the masses. The rest of us just want to retain our ability to troll celebrities, ex-partners and strangers with opposing points of view, and probably watch people fornicating. In public though, we’ll all say, ‘whistle-blowers, protect whistle-blowers’.
So ultimately, it’s the twin beasts of reality and human nature which make controlling the online world so difficult.
Say, for example, Britain decided it needed to block Facebook or Twitter – one of two things would happen. People would pay for a VPN and happily redirect their trolling of strangers via servers in Uzbekistan or Romania.
I suspect this is part of the reason that the much-delayed attempt to regulate online porn in the UK still has not been successfully introduced – in fact, has been constantly delayed. Officially, it keeps getting put back because it’s tough to find a way to protect the personal data of users that have verified their identity in order to access some online filth to pass an afternoon. In the age of cyber-hackers, the dangers of that are clear. Unofficially, there is that cold turkey thing I was talking about earlier. If it’s dangerous to take people’s social media away, the consequences of removing pornography could be nothing short of revolution. I’m not saying I approve of or condone that sort of online behavior, but I have met people before, and I know what they are like.
It goes without saying that I fully support any attempts to clean up the internet, and believe it’s essential to protect the whistleblowers. Can anyone recommend a decent VPN?