There can be no doubt that the variety of information available on the internet is incredibly wide and varied, and limited only by the imagination of its users. As with all aspects of life, this diversity of subject matter encompasses all extremes, from the lightest and most positive to the darkest and most vile of pursuits, and all shades of grey in between.
In daily life, the darker extremes are often restricted or censored by laws and social stigmatism, particularly when these cause harm to others. In a "civilised" society, it has become necessary to enforce a code of conduct that attempts to ensure that all of its members can live without fear of damage to themselves or their personal property. Otherwise, the majority of the civilised world believes that we live in an environment that fosters free will and personal expression.
But how much freedom of expression do we really possess?
In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron is proposing the implementation of a universal firewall that will prevent access to pornography unless citizens elect to opt out. In the interests of limiting the loathsome traffic of paedophilic images across the internet, then there appears to be some justification to this radical measure; however, the censorship does not stop there. It seems that freedom of speech expressed on any extremist sites, covering subjects that range from anorexia to smoking, will also be blocked.Violence and pro-suicide groups may certainly be niche and rather questionable interests, but even sites that are broadly termed "esoteric" will be restricted.
So where does one draw the line in censoring these online opinions? Who gets to decide which subjects are harmful? Should the internet be policed in this way, or is this an infringement of our basic human rights to be denied the right to advertise our personal opinions?
Clearly expressing one’s views via the internet is somewhat different to spouting forth around your kitchen table with a group of like-minded individuals; once published online, the information is there to be accessed by the rest of the world and consequently is firmly in the public domain. But soon, massive areas of the internet will become inaccessible, and the only way to gain access to these fringe sites will be to opt out of the default streaming preferences. Which, according to David Cameron’s advisors, is unlikely as most users do not make the effort to do so, either because it is too much trouble or, more worryingly, because they do not want their interest in pagan lore or the joys of smoking to place them in the same ranks as hard-core porn users or worse.
Detailed information of restricted sites will not even be made available to citizens so that they can make an informed decision; the decisions regarding which sites are acceptable for unrestricted public consumption will be made in secret by unelected members of large corporations, such as China’s Huawei. The following list shows the general areas under consideration:
Here’s a list of topics the government intends to block:
Eating disorder websites
Suicide related websites
Tools to unblock websites
"Esoteric material" is such an indistinct term that it could be used to block almost anything that the government deemed to be in any way subversive or free-thinking. It is not limited merely to "spiritual" interests; information relating to culture, language, nationality, race, sexuality, gender identity, interests, expertise, research, discoveries, history or political opinions might also be at risk.
For a website that make it its business to expand consciousness and cover topics that teeter on the very brink of our comprehension, this form of censorship is bad news indeed.
For more information on the actions we can take to prevent this law from stifling our souls and self-expression, visit Wake Up World.