The big four ISPs in the UK (BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky) are all now rolling out their “filtering” (read: censorship) systems, as demanded by David Cameron last year. Just as anyone with at least half a brain foresaw these systems go far beyond simply “filtering” pr0n and block everything it was predicted they would and much more besides. You can find a nice little summary of why this is a problem over at the Grauniad.
There has been much made of the Government pressuring the ISPs into this. Getting commercial entities to do their dirty work rather than trying to pass it into law has a number of benefits for the government, not least of which is that they avoid a good deal of scrutiny and get to blame someone else when it all goes wrong. Groups like the Open Rights Group, the Pirate Party, Backlash UK, Index on Censorship, Sex and Censorship and similar are (mostly) fighting the good fight with initiatives like the #CensoredUK Twitter hashtag, but there’s something I don’t understand: The ISPs are for-profit companies, with shareholders to keep happy, so why are none of these groups trying to arrange a boycott? Why can’t I find a list of alternate ISPs that aren’t censoring the Internet? Why aren’t people writing to these ISPs to tell them to stop kowtowing to the government and to start standing up for their customers? If we as a nation want to stand up against this Internet censorship by proxy should we not be doing something to make the ISPs sit up and take notice? Perhaps even make them want to fight in the corner of freedom with the rest of us? I think we should, and what better way than to hit them in the profit margins?
So let’s all boycott the big four ISPs (and any others who sign up for Internet censorship). If you’re with the big four leave and tell them exactly why, if you’re looking for a new ISP contact the big four and tell them why you won’t be switching to them. Who’s with me?