Sat, 27 Dec 2008
Burnham, a father of three, insisted his proposals were not intended as an attack on freedom of speech, but were a necessary counterweight to the proliferation of "unacceptable" material on the internet in a similar mould to the 9pm watershed on television. "It worries me -- like anybody with children. Leaving your child for two hours unregulated on the internet is not something you can do. The internet has been empowering and democratising in many ways, but we haven't yet got the stakes in the ground to help people navigate their way safely around what can be a very, very complex and quite dangerous world,"...
Naturally, something must be done! That something appears to be age ratings for websites, which I seem to recall has been tried before with exactly no success 0. However, let us consider for a brief moment that we were attempting to implement such a scheme and consider how we would do it.
Clearly, given the nature of the internet any sort of self regulation involving meta tags in the HTML is not going to work. Partly as who can honestly be bothered but mostly, and more relevantly for Mr Burnham, because it's rather open to abuse by all those sites hosted outside UK jurisdiction.
This then leads us to the notion that you need some sort of body to classify websites into bad and good. For this to work you have to assume that any unclassified site, or most of them as I prefer to call this category, are automatically bad. Thus you end up with your view of the web reduced to an astonishingly small subset.
Let us, just for the sake of argument, assume we have come up with some method of classifying the web quickly through some sort of crowd sourcing algorithm. You now have the problem of filtering not just websites, but individual pages on these sites. The prime example is wikipedia. There is much there that one would want a child access to; there's also pictures of 70s album covers that are less suitable. That's a lot of ratings and a lot of filtering and a substantial burden you are placing on ISPs. At least to do it properly, which is what I assume you'd want to do. It's certainly not an impossibility though.
And then finally the ISPs will have to offer some sort of, oh, I don't know Parental Controls package so you can access the web unfettered while your kids only get to see the cbeebies site.
Alternatively you could install one of the various bits of commercial software that promise to censor the intarwebs for you. And then wait the short while it takes your kids to figure out how to disable it...
Or, most usefully, you could do some research, maybe on the web, before you make half arsed statements that result in you looking like an idiot.
0: Of course I can't find this as all the results on web site ratings are for this nonsense.
posted at: 22:09 #