Concerned freedom fighters across the web have been voicing their opinion in response to reports that the British government plans to call a meeting next month to pressure the country’s major internet service providers (ISPs) into blocking porn from all home computers unless a customer specifically asks for the ability to access it.
Conservative Parliament member Claire Perry explained the plan, stating: We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure our children aren’t stumbling across things we dont want them to see. A problem arises, however, in that such methods propose treating adult citizens in the same manner as parents ideally would the children in question; forcing adults to expressly ask permission before engaging in activities deemed questionable – an action that would undermine the very essence of what’s so appealing about the internet and its supposed freedoms.
It would be a mistake to read the dialogue as dialectic between ‘anti-porn’ and ‘pro-porn’ perspectives, as UK government officials would like to imply it is in order to appeal to moral imperatives and distract attentions from the underlying issues. This proposition, as many already have hinted, is not about pornography but about general control over information and the whole of the internet by proxy.
A very specific modern fear is crystallized here: If a government can control access to pornography, going so far as to make its subject register and announce their intentions to view something traditionally deemed as morally objectionable, what other information can they control access to simply by deeming it harmful or distasteful?
Parliament member Perry, who also compared the internet to the Wild west, hits precisely on the metaphor for what’s at stake in such a regulation. The Wild West is, indeed, the ideal of the internet as an America of the present. More precisely, implicit in the promise of the internet is an ideal of freedom consistently being proven – like all ideals – to be more and more futile, inaccurate.