Porn Czarina’s Own Goal

Well, this is awkward: Claire Perry,  the “think of the children” Conservative MP who has been the driving force behind David Cameron’s  ill-judged new initiative to police the internet (debated by Charlie and Jonah yesterday) seems not to have very much of an idea how this new-fangled contraption works…

Buzzfeed has the details:

British anti-porn crusader Claire Perry, a member of Parliament who led the campaign that resulted in David Cameron’s announcement that the United Kingdom would soon have a nationwide, opt-out porn filter, had her website hacked. Or, if not quite “hacked,” defaced — vandals found what appears to be a fairly simple way to upload pornographic images onto her servers, and they took advantage of it. Conservative [actually more of a libertarian] blogger Paul Staines, best known as Guido Fawkes, reported on the hack, including in his post a censored screenshot that contained the URL to the hacked page, but no link. Repeat: Staines neither hacked Perry’s site nor linked to it. He merely pointed out that a hack had taken place….

Perry then tweeted that the hacking of her website had been “sponsored’ by Guido. He tweeted her asking for a retraction. This was not forthcoming. Instead Perry said she was going “to talk to” the Sun on Sunday “to make sure they know the views of their political columnist @GuidoFawkes re Internet porn”. Spot the threat!

In fact, as Guido pointed out, the [populist right] Sun is unlikely to worry about what Perry has to say. Here’s part of what the paper has written about Cameron’s plans:

Cameron says that by the end of 2014, anyone setting up a new internet account or switching suppliers will have to disable online filters to be able to access sexual images…. Pretty soon, your private life will no longer be private, because you’ll have to declare your interests — however harmless — to whoever you get your coverage from. And therefore, by default, to the Government which imposed the filters. Sorry, Dave, but this is where yesterday’s announcement goes from the well-meaning actions of a caring dad to a hugely worrying intrusion by the State. He talks of “protecting families”. But what about single people who own computers and who enjoy watching porn? What about couples who quite harmlessly use sexual images as a harmless stimulant in their own relationship?

They shouldn’t have to “opt in” to 18-plus sites or fret that they’ll end up on some MI6 list as potential perverts. Because once this is how the internet works, what WILL tomorrow hold? Will we have to opt in to watch videos where there’s swearing in case the kids get corrupted? Register to see YouTube clips of dangerous sports or to download music perceived as anarchic? To read views which clash with those of the Government?

The Sun is right to be concerned. After all, Cameron, an archetypically illiberal liberal, has already thrown his weight behind efforts to muzzle the press in Britain (as John O’Sullivan pointed out here).

Buzzfeed meanwhile snarks this about Perry:

The phrase “hosting a link that distributed porn via my website” is simply not coherent — those words mean nothing. Even if you assume that she just meant to say that Staines had linked to porn that had been uploaded to her website, that claim is not accurate. There was no actual link.…The person most responsible for the British internet porn ban seems to have a difficult time constructing sentences about the internet.

This comes as no surprise.

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