A lot of blogs and websites have been reacting to the statement from the PM concerning internet content filters. Here is another one to add to the heap…
The best description I have found of what the situation is right now, can be viewed here:
Please click on the link and read it for yourself, carefully.
My own interpretation of this news is that the current Internet Service Provider (ISP) filters are about to be changed to On by default, rather than users having to actively turn them on. In itself this presents a worrying development, given how few tech savvy people there are in the population who, even if they could be made to understand the results of their decision, would by and large choose to stick with the default ‘filter on’ option for fear of ending up on a list of transgressives.
What has caught the attention of many in the occult, pagan, and spiritual community is the knowledge that the category ‘esoteric material’ is likely to be listed as a default blocked category. It is included alongside several other areas which people may want to block from their internet options, for potentially valid reasons. The list reads thusly;
As the Open Rights Group site makes very clear, this is a list compiled from the existing type of content blocks offered by existing filters. It does not come from any sure knowledge of how the intended ISP filter will definitely look.
However, it is based on existing practices, and seems likely to be representative.
To me it seems there are three things to note here.
- Free speech and free access to information is a matter of basic democratic process, and to remove this from those who have not unticked a box on a form is despicable. To declare all citizens to be in need of parental control filters, reveals the appalling elitist attitude of those currently in positions of power in this country.
- The list has innate failings, as anyone who has tried to use a school computer with these filters on will know; huge amounts of the internet are blocked by these categories, including news sites, and all sorts of innocuous material. Exactly how a person can opt back in to ‘no filter’ is unclear, as to access this would take an amount of effort and awareness, and a bit of prior knowledge. Given the poor web skills of many people, this issue alone presents a real problem.
- The inclusion of esoteric material on this list raises all sorts of questions. What counts as esoteric? Who gets to decide this? And why on earth is it there in the first place?!
Further light can be shed upon this by looking at e.g. the Wikipedia page on the French government’s Mission interministérielle de vigilance et de lutte contre les dérives sectaires, i.e. “Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Combatting Cultic Deviances”
Orange, as a French company, includes the following as its default safeguard filter which takes some effort to opt out of. (I speak from experience, it took me several weeks to figure out how to achieve this on my own mobile phone account!)
I had to remove the Orange Safeguard filter as it prevented me seeing sites which I knew to be totally fine. I have no idea why they were blocked as they didn’t fall under any of the categories listed.
A point worth making is that I did not notice the filter was on until I tried searching for a specific site and found it was blocked. This demonstrates how the government idea of ‘filter set to default On’ has huge implications, as it is invisible unless actively challenged.
I have heard that in the US, cult websites are often blocked by parental controls, for fear of youngsters getting brainwashed into believing nonsensical and damaging versions of the world. Which seems reasonable… except, again, that distinction can be a matter of opinion!
A lot of other content gets swept up in these filters such as naturism pages. Some clear words on why this ‘censorship by another name’ has wider implications than the headline publicity might suggest, can be found here.
One question posed there chimed with my own feelings about this issue:
“How different is China?
That is a serious question. At the very least the UK government will have taken a big step in that direction and the difficult bit will have been done. Once censorship is in place the politicians will not be able to resist the temptation to extend it.”
Let me reiterate that I can see there could be a place for blocking certain categories of sites from certain groups of people, such as children (I did not allow my daughters to look at violent horror images at age 6, and it counts as child abuse to show pornography to under 18s). So schools are wise to insist on a filter system; even if it could do with some refinement in its implementation.
However, as an adult, I do not wish to have to my internet content decided upon for me.
Where is the magick in this? Well, we can object via the usual channels, as a community, and we can also cast appropriate enchantments upon the situation. The rational part of me thinks doing spells gives increased emotional motivation, at the very least, and the magician in me says that they may well have an effect, through mysterious mechanisms… Power to your wands, people!
A Facebook page exists, to disseminate information about campaigns or other actions regarding the ISP filter proposals, which are relevant to the esoteric community. It can be found here: Free Spirit