At one point the internet was either a brilliant global forum for free speech or a dangerous, uncontrolled network lacking regulation.
Sadly the Governments of this world took the second view and, here in the UK especially, we’ve seen the major ISP’s getting strong-armed into implementing firewalls, warning systems, blocks and policing their users.
It’s not porn or disturbing images they’re trying to block, but instead our great UK Firewall seems to be blocking sites that upset Copyright holders. You know the sort – torrent sites etc.
Previously it was a rather ham-fisted block on certain domains, which – at a DNS level – meant that if you tried to get to a site such as the Pirate Bay, you’d instead see a warning message from your internet provider. Most people have easily worked around this with a proxy server though.
Now, as detailed in this BBC News item, they’re trying a different approach which will kill the revenue stream of the website owner. It works by replacing adverts which appear on sites that advertisers may not be happy with.
Currently anyone can put any ads on their site, but the Police and Government seem to be of the opinion that having “big name advertisers” on a torrent site will give the user the impression that it’s legit, and they’ll assume it’s legal.
To be honest I’ve absolutely no idea where the Government gets its ideas from, but let’s go with this for a moment.
The system works by replacing those ads with Police warning messages telling the user that the site is illegal. It basically rewrites the internet page at the ISP level, adding and replacing content as they see fit.
This is pretty scary when you think about it. If adverts can get rewritten, what else will be changed to fit their needs? Will we see popular websites getting text altered? Will forums have images swapped and changed? It’s the start of another cat and mouse game by the Government, who is seeking to control the people of the land by adjusting what they see. I guess it’s been happening for years in a way, with our media getting certain “leaks” and “comments” fed down so that headlines appear as and when necessary.