May 31, 2013 | Jim Killock

Sacrificing freedom on the altar of political fears

The news debate moves onto more calls for Internet restrictions debates today, prompted by April Jones' murderer possessing illegal child abuse images. Some commentators have sought to blame Google – who takedown links to such material – and others have sought to link access to child abuse images to access to pornography in general, advocating restrictions for all adults.

These are extraordinarily big leaps, with little thought to the consequences. Restrictions on legal content, like pornography, come with many potential results. They may be the opposite of those intended. The wrong material may be blocked, or otherwise, people may simple remove all of the blocks, and find it easier to access illegal material, whether they wish to or not.

Comments, email, and peer-to-peer technologies are all hard to monitor and censor without disturbing results. Centralised mechanisms are extremely hard, if not impossible to impose.

Meanwhile, governments look for ways to grow the economy and jobs. The Internet and tech are one of the few parts of the economy that are continuing to grow. Judging by the headlines, if our politicians are simply allowed to follow their worst instincts, then both our freedom and economic future will be sacrificed on the altar of their fears.

We’ll be asking some of the hard questions at ORGCon, where Professor Andy Phippen will be presenting a talk about the best ways to help children as they grow up with the Internet.