Yesterday was a sad day. We have experienced a terrible blow to democracy.
I am Austrian, not German, but I can’t say that I’m unaffected by what happens in Germany. Normally everything repeats here as well – with a little delay, but it certainly does.
What has happened, you ask? I tell you what has happened: Germany has joined China, Iran, Burma and Saudi Arabia, that has happened.
Yesterday one of the currently worst German populist politicians, Ursula von der Leyen, has finally got her will. Five of the biggest German Internet providers, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone/Arcor, Hansenet/Alice, Telefonica/O2 and Kabel Deutschland, have signed an agreement to block child pornography on the Internet. The others have refused to sign, because there is no legal foundation for such a system.
Huh? What’s bad about that?? I tell you what’s bad. The badness happens on several levels:
Technically, the proposed “solution”, manipulation of the Domain Name Service (DNS), is very simple to circumvent. If you want to get around it, you simply can use a different DNS server. Thus, the “solution” solves nothing. It may probably keep unsuspecting surfers from stumbling upon child porn accidentally.
But can you stumble upon child porn accidentally? I use the Internet since 1990. I have been in quite some of its shady and its glimmering places, but I have never stumbled upon child porn. Well, I have, once, maybe about 1991. There was such an image in a binary newsgroup. As far as I remember, it showed a naked girl that was clearly pre-teen, along with a boy of the same age who had an erection. It was a B&W image that looked old, like scanned from an old image. I can’t remember any details. I forgot. This was a time when you could buy nudist magazines on every newsstand. No erections there, but certainly lots of pre-teen girls. Since then, awareness of sexual exploitation of children has heightened, the magazines have vanished.
Since then: nothing. Nothing at all. I did not stumble upon anything. I strongly suggest that you will have a hard time trying to stumble upon child porn. Child porn is completely taboo on the Internet, even and especially on porn sites.
I suggest you try to look for yourself. You may not like porn, you may find it even disgusting, but you will easily find it. It’s a healthy exercise and it gives you a handle in discussions with those who brazenly lie into your face, just like Ursula von der Leyen, when she claims that there is big business with child porn on thousands of web sites.
There is not. There may be child porn and there may be some specialized business, but that must happen in closed circles. Nothing to stumble upon. Nothing that would be even remotely affected by the “safety” filters. That’s for the lie on the surface.
I can’t tell you how mad I am about those populists that lie to take our rights away, those idiots who destroy our democracy for a cheap victory in the next elections. Even if they do it only for selfish reasons, they prepare the way into a totalitarian society.
But Germany is a democracy, it sure has checks and balances, has it? Nope! With child porn, the proponents of censorship have finally found the ultimate vehicle to reach their goals. It goes like this:
The Internet providers have agreed to block certain domains as soon as they get notice from the German police. The requests are redirected to a page showing a stop sign (yes, a traffic sign) with text that tells the user that the address is blocked because it is associated with child porn. It further says that the search for child porn and the securing of evidence is exclusively job of the police. In other words: you can’t check. They say that they don’t store your IP address, but this is most certainly a lie as well. If they don’t do it now, they will in the future, just like they said they would not use road charge data for any other purpose than road charges. It’s the old thing: wait a while and someone will say “Now that we have the data, it is immoral not to use it”.
Now to checks and balances. In constitutional proceedings if someone is charged, there is a way to defend oneself. Charges are open and can therefore be contradicted. Not here. The list of blocked addresses is top secret. You can’t check its rightfulness, because you are not even allowed to know it! There is no control against arbitrariness and abuse whatsoever! They can put on the list whatever they want. This is not protection against child pornography, this is the Great Wall of Germany. This is completely undemocratic and unworthy of a constitutional state that respects its citizens. This is a totalitarian instrument of control … and I dare say they will abuse it like that.
If you’ve made it down here: try to defend your rights. If you are German, change to an Internet provider that does not censor. Make use of your right to terminate your contract on grounds that your provider has breached it. In fact that is what actually happens, and maybe financial loss may make them reconsider. Money changes everything.
Apart from that: help spread the message. Make sure that children are not abused for political reasons. Make sure that the people who have died for democracy and constitutional rights have not died in vain.
The Song of the Day is “Take Care Of All Of My Children” from the 2006 Tom Waits masterpiece “Orphans”. Hear it on YouTube – as long as YouTube is not blocked.