Ban teh interweb now

Meet the renewed front in keeping our children safe from every horror menacing their brains: computer games.

Computer games must be evil, right, because occasionally computer graphics do violent things to other computer graphics, which are clearly in now way any worse than your average gore-fest movie?

Facetiousness aside, the main proposals appear to be a film-style video game classification, encouraging parents not to let their kids have games consoles in their bedrooms, and internet blocking mechanisms to stop kids seeing unsavory material online.

I don’t have a problem with the classification system per se, although as somebody who used to have a Saturday job in a video games shop many many years ago, the current certificates (which are a mish-mash of the BBFC and an industry code) were pretty strictly adhered to and ID was regularly requested. I can’t imagine much has changed.

No, its the second two which are more worrying and probably practically unworkable. Firstly, telling parents what they should do with their kids playing video games is, frankly, none of government’s business. Are they recommending the same for PC games? Does it make somebody a bad parent if they don’t move their kid’s Wii or XBox into the living room?

If somebody can’t tell the difference between computer games and reality, then they’ve probably got a blurry grip on reality anyway and need help. It’s not exactly if there’s a rash of copycat video-gaming going on around the country? What’s the pressing need to protect kids. They’re managing pretty well with computer games at the moment, I’d say.

But its the internet restrictions that worry me and that, combined with Hugo Swire’s call a couple of days ago, it feels as though we’re heading closer to the Australian way of censoring the net (all for the sake of our children, naturally), which isn’t a million miles away from the Chinese way of doing things [1]. How long before we get a minister do the same as their Australian counterpart and say that if you’re against internet controls, you’re essentially a kiddie-fiddler, or that every PC must come with built in government-approved blocking software? Have these people never bothered to explain what internet protection software is on the market already?

I won’t repeat my post on the Australian government and the internet, but suffice to say the same criticisms there apply here.

The ‘think of the children’ banner is an oft-used argument. Who could possibly disagree with tighter government-approved controls on the internet if saves our children from ANYTHING BAD HAPPENING. And turns us all into mindless drones in the process.

Update: Chris Dillow is really rather good, and a lot more succinct than me, on this. 

[1] Ironically, there was a big two page article on the Chinese authorities and the internet just a few pages on.


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February 2008
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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com

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