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UK internet censorship and what to do about it

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If you’re anything like us at Agile Collective and you’ve heard (a lot) about the new measures put in place by the UK government to censor the internet, you’ll probably be curious about whether there is anything you can do about the situation.

Fortunately there is.

If you haven’t heard about the news, then please do have a look.

In a nutshell, ISPs have been forced to block all kinds of internet content to everyone in the UK by default, and if you want to see that content - which includes sites discussing a frankly vast array of topics (everything from contraceptives to domestic abuse) - then you have to contact your ISP to get unblocked. Nominally, this legislation is designed to prevent access to pornography by minors and access to certain types of pornography by everyone. However, as the New Statesman article mentioned above suggests, it may be that the aims were more fundamental.

Given this, what can be done?

You can contact your ISP and enquire whether the block has been applied to you, and request that no such filters are applied to your service.

If you’re not able to contact the ISP for whatever reason there are a number of ways to simply bypass the way the filters are implemented, the most humorously titled of which is this browser extension: Go Away Cameron (in reference to David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, who has personally spearheaded this legislation).

While finding work-arounds to deal with the technologically incompetent methods employed to censor the internet may be satisfying, they shouldn't obscure the vital goal of stopping and reversing the process of censorship altogether. The fact remains that some people will not have the technological awareness or skills needed to circumvent this censorship - and those people will most likely be those who are most vulnerable and in need of the information which has been kept from them.

So, most importantly, I would encourage you to join the Open Rights Group

“Open Rights Group is the UK’s leading voice defending freedom of expression, privacy, innovation, creativity and consumer rights on the Internet. ORG is a member organisation of European Digital Rights (EDRi). We campaign to change public policy whenever your rights are threatened, by talking to policy-makers, informing the public through the media, and mobilising our supporters.”

The internet has been perhaps the single most important technology in human history in terms of connecting people together and allowing them to share information, and I would encourage everyone in the UK who uses it to resist any effort to censor it.

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