An entertaining and enlightening evening

Last night we were treated to a great talk by Richard King, who was in Manchester to discuss the internet filtering that is coming to everyone’s connections later this year.

He got started by introducing the wider Open Rights Group issues, and promising not to use PowerPoint, instead perching on a stool by the bar and the entertainment soon began when we cam up with a t-shirt idea – “think of the children + new technology = moral panic”

Not that we didn’t cover the serious issue of the day of course, with Richard pointing out that “now only one person in the house will decide the information everyone else in the house sees” – and I was surprised to discover that a lot of students now have their internet access provided by their landlord.

This lead to a brief discussion on the latest news reports – including that the USA is now recording 100% of the telephone calls of some unnamed country.
It turns out that if you happen to know, or were, under 18 in ’08 and had a Yahoo video account then there are some lawyers who’d like to speak to you about the way the UK government was secretly recording everything you did. Please get in touch if so.

A quick show of hands showed a majority of people had already encountered issues with incorrect blocking of sites, which is strange because Claire Perry described the idea of websites being blocked when they shouldn’t be as ‘a load of cock’.

Richard wound up be explaining how the Open Rights Group is tackling censorship with a system of probes to check reported sites on a variety of ISPs. The results will be public so you can judge your ISP against the others, though several people pointed out issues with ‘bad guys’ feeding URLs into the checking system.

This was handy, as Richard ended up telling us that if you want to help track UK web censorship or discuss these issues, you can do so on the project web site :
http://blocked.org.uk/
or of course by joining the Open Rights Group itself.

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