Sunday, 28 November 2010

Censorship and the Internet

Should law enforcement agencies i.e. the police  be given powers to require the taking down of a website, without a court order?

It seems this is under consideration by the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which has asked nominet (which runs part of the internet) to discuss ways of dealing with domain names used in connection with criminal activity.

If by 'criminal activity'  they mean things such as money scams, terrorism, child porn,  I would have no problem with such sites being closed. Even so, I think the police should be in possession of a court order. This would go some way to protect them (the police) from the suspicion of acting arbitrarily   and it reinforces the notion of the police service as being accountable.
Richard Baron at Analysis and Synthesis has some apposite comments on this proposal, particularly this:

"Fourth, there are sites that express extreme political, social or religious views, or that give general advice (as for example , which was recently closed down at the request of the police, and soon afterwards reappeared).
It would be totally unacceptable for Nominet ever to close down such a site at the request of law enforcers, without a court order. This is so, however extreme the views expressed.
If law enforcers could close sites like this, it would hand them a huge power of censorship. Of course they would promise not to abuse it, but future law enforcers might well abuse it. The power would also lead to self-censorship, as people moderated their comments for fear of provoking the authorities into asking Nominet to act.
So as far as this fourth category goes, the only acceptable policy for Nominet to have would be that it would always reject requests that were not in the form of court orders".

Fr Finigan mentions difficulties which could be faced by Catholic (and other Christian) bloggers:

  "The danger for Catholic blogs is that "equality" legislation is increasingly opposed to the free expression of Catholic doctrine. Pope Benedict reflected on this in some of the less controversial parts of his recent interview "Light of the World" and in his excellent book "Truth and Tolerance". If law enforcement agencies are allowed to decide motu proprio that a site must be closed down, we have then moved another step nearer to a police state. "



  1. Many of the traditional Catholic Blogs should be banned. These blogs are a danger to the Catholic Church and the very core of our faith.

  2. MathewR, Why so?
    Can you give examples of how 'these blogs are a danger to the Catholic Church and the very core of our faith'?