With new website blocking measures, has David Cameron just taken away our free speech online?
David Cameron has said that filters used to block porn online can also be used to stop websites championing "extremist" views in order to "keep our country safe". The move is being decried as a massive step in restricting free speech.
There are plenty of negative aspects of the internet, which the decision will seek to curb. But many believe that by allowing government to control what’s said online we are giving up our most basic right: the freedom of speech.
The extent of the planned censorship was revealed today in an official report of a debate in Parliament on 23 October.
In response to a question about the Prime Minister's steps to fight terrorism in the UK, Cameron said: “We have put in place some of the toughest controls that one can possibly have within a democratic Government … Setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites. We will take all these steps and many more to keep our country safe.”
But will blocking websites help? And at what cost? Cameron says this will be done in conjunction with the intelligence services as part of efforts to combat extremism. And where does it end?
Monitoring and tracking criminal activity has proven fruitful up to now. Bearing this in mind, killing websites seems a little counter-intuitive. Groups and ring leaders in the real world can be identified and arrests made, if necessary. Shutting down sites could kill future leads and make cutting off the head of the serpent even tougher.
Is this is too much power for a government to wield?
And who decides what is extreme? Are we extreme for thinking that Cameron looks like he’s made of putty? And is building a website with pictures of his best poses made from putty therefore extreme? He might think so, while we might find it funny. We have the right to express that at present. This time next year we might not.
Let us know what you think below.