In the relatively small pro-censorship lobby much is made of the analogy between TV and the Internet. "Society accepts censorship of TV programming", so the argument goes, "so why should it not also accept censorship of the Internet?"
And with that, they turn to their supporters in audience give them a high-five, and return to grin at their opponents. "Respond to that one, if you dare".
So let's look this analogy more carefully. If the Government were to censor TV as it intends to censor the Internet, it would do this:
- Install a device in everyone's home that could turn the TV off on the whim of a faceless Government bureaucrat
- Monitor TV broadcasts and, if someone decides that something worse than naughty is being aired, switch off everyone's TV set.
- Leave the source TV stations and program producers unobstructed by effective law enforcement action, except for the occasional token raid.
Not only would this mechanism be incredibly wasteful, it directs the wrath of a faceless Government bureaucracy against the wrong target - the innocent family at home watching TV and leaves the source of the filth completely unscathed.
All socially acceptable censorship mechanisms have worked by censoring at the source. That's why the possession of porn is not illegal, but the sale of it can be. The deep conceptual flaw with the mandatory ISP filtering proposal is that it attempts to censor at the receiver.
History has shown that all such mechanisms are futile and inspire a great deal of resistance. The same will be true of this proposal.