Censorship and the Internet: The Internet is too important to be hamstrung by morality (17 January 2006)

Those who created the Internet envisaged global any-to-any communications free of censorship and control, whether by government or business. The majority of the population in nations like the UK, is on-line, but so too is a similar proportion of criminals and subversives. Politicians and pressures groups around the world are therefore demanding that “something” be done to protect the vulnerable and to prevent content of which they disapprove being available to all and sundry over the Internet. The solutions currently on offer range from “Cartels Masquerading as Anarchy” through “Brussels Fudge” to “Big Brother: your window on the world is their window into your mind”. So who should lead the way forward: “the moral majority”, “those who know best”, “the market”, “democratic values” or “no-one”?

Derek Wyatt, MP

Derek was first elected to the House of Commons for the new constituency of Sittingbourne and Sheppey in May 1997. He works almost exclusively on email – Radio5Live found that he was “The fastest emailer in the West” – the quickest MP to respond to constituents emails. On arriving at Westminster he formed the All Party Internet Group and has been its chairman ever since working on revising the Computer Misuse Act as well as initiating work on the Creative Commons. He is a trustee of Citizens Online a charity established to explore the social and cultural impact of the Internet on society and also Founder, the Oxford Internet Institute.

John Carr, Internet consultant.

John graduated in law from the LSE in 1976 but by the early 1990s he had shifted into computer consultancy. As John’s children began using the Internet he was drawn to working on solutions to help keep all children safe. He is now Chair of the UK’s Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety and Director of the NCH Children & Technology Unit. He is helping develop a UK Centre for Child Protection Online and is a member of the Home Secretary’s Internet Task Force, advising on technical and policy issues affecting child safety online, including the mobile environment. John’s publications include “A Parent’s Guide to the Internet”, “The Role of the Internet in the Commission of Crime”, “Child Pornography, Child Abuse and the Internet”.