Tuesday, May 24, 2022
HomeCulture WarsAs censoring of TCW worsens, who is trying to gag us?

As censoring of TCW worsens, who is trying to gag us?

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TCW has today been blocked by three Internet Service Providers (ISP) which are using their adult filter to entirely block all access on mobile devices to the website. O2 have confirmed this to us in an email:

“The BBFC reviewed this site recently and deemed that it should be behind 18+ filters. The Mobile Code of Practice requires us to abide by this decision.”

Affected devices receive an erroneous message about the SSL certificate. This makes it look like a misconfiguration on our part, but this is not the case.  The message does not make it clear that the site is being censored. 

The Open Rights Group anti-censorship site Blocked! confirms what is happening. 

The three network providers (O2, Three, EE) use a list provided by the British Board of Film Classification, the same organisation that in various forms has been censoring your movie viewing since 1912, and is responsible for the adult content filters for these mobile providers. 

In its previous incarnation as the British Board of Film Censors, the board worked closely with the Home Office in the 1930s to decide what the public could view at the cinema.  

Films censored and cut at its behest include such classics as Yield to the Night (1956), which opposed capital punishment; Room at the Top (1958), which dealt with class divisions; Victim (1961), which implicitly argued for the legalisation of homosexuality, and Rebel Without a Cause (1955), which was cut to reduce the ‘possibility of teenage rebellion’.  

When James Ferman headed the BBFC, he attended a screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre at London’s National Film Theatre in 1974 and, afterwards told the audience: ‘It’s all right for you middle-class cineastes, but what would happen if a factory worker from Manchester were to see it?’ He subsequently banned the film. 

The BBFC was also the designated regulator for the UK age-verification scheme for pornography, which was abandoned by Theresa May’s government.  

The Online Harms White Paper discussed ways in which the BBFC might be involved in censoring the Internet. 

It said: ‘Inaccurate information, regardless of intent, can be harmful – for example, the spread of inaccurate anti-vaccination messaging online poses a risk to public health. The government is particularly worried about disinformation (information which is created or disseminated with the deliberate intent to mislead; this could be to cause harm, or for personal, political or financial gain). 

‘ISP blocking: Internet Service Provider (ISP) blocking of non-compliant websites or apps – essentially blocking companies’ platforms from being accessible in the UK – could be an enforcement option of last resort.  

‘This option would only be considered where a company has committed serious, repeated and egregious violations of the outcome requirements for illegal harms, failing to maintain basic standards after repeated warnings and notices of improvement. Deploying such an option would be a decision for the independent regulator alone. 

‘While we recognise that this would have technical limitations, it could have sufficient impact to act as a powerful deterrent. The BBFC will have this power to address non-compliance when the requirements for age verification on online pornography sites come into force.  

‘We are exploring a range of options in this space, from a requirement on ISPs to block websites or apps following notification by the regulator, through to the regulator issuing a list of companies that have committed serious, repeated and egregious violations, which ISPs could choose to block on a voluntary basis.’ 

The BBFC guidelines are here. We note that they refer to mobile content, but some of our readers who use Three as an ISP over 4G are also noting that their PCs are blocked. 

We at TCW do not believe the BBFC guidelines justify censoring our website. This block, by the way, has been done with no notification from the BBFC.  

We have complained to Three, O2, and EE, and have now appealed to the BBFC, as the requisite five working days have passed since we first complained to Three, with no answers forthcoming. 

The Mark Steyn show on GB News received the following statement from Three last week, when Kathy went on to discuss our initial block: ‘As with all Mobile Network Operators, Three is required to follow regulations that block websites that are classed as containing adult content.  

‘The responsibility for the guidelines and reviewing of websites is managed by the British Board of Film Classification and Three implement their decisions following their review on whether a website contains adult content. We are currently clarifying the status of conservativewoman.co.uk from BBFC and are awaiting feedback from them.’ 

The Online Safety Bill is passing through Parliament at the moment and threatens to be even more draconian. 

Only two weeks ago, a new government sanction came into law which affects Internet access providers who provide connectivity to people in the UK. It is an amendment to The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

The sanction came into effect four days before our first block by Three, on April 29, and was laid before Parliament only two days before. There was no time for MPs to discuss this measure. 

So ISPs now legally have to have a method to block government-sanctioned websites, a decision which was not debated by Parliament and which has blindsided non-censoring ISPs

Additionally, at least three ISPs currently use a list created by a non-elected government quango to decide which sites should be blocked, TCW is on this list, and is thus censored. 

This new sanction, plus the Online Harms Bill, will give the UK government – like China’s corrupt government – the power to censor any website it does not like. This is the trial run, the great firewall of formerly Great Britain.  

We are being censored. You are being censored. Oppose online censorship. 

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TCW
TCW
Edited by Kathy Gyngell

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