Does the West want to constrain the Internet..? Part 2

Mike Halsey MVP
May 29, 2011
Updated • Dec 6, 2012

Yesterday I wrote and article about how Iran apparently wants to create its own in-country Internet. This move is almost unprecedented with only North Korea having done this before. In the article I discussed the situation with Internet access in these two countries and also in China, which has a reasonable open policy for web access though sites which criticise the communist regime there are still banned.

This first part of this article series seemed to raise some strong feelings from you all, and I must ask that you please continue to respect other people's cultures and beliefs when commenting. In part two I want to examine the west's current approach to the Internet.

wikileaks There have been several major Internet events in the last year that have raised all sorts of questions about the Internet freedoms we all enjoy, and what the future of the Internet should look like. The first of these was the WikiLeaks scandal where hundreds of thousands of secure military documents were 'stolen' by a soldier and later exposed.

Now one thing I'm not going to do here is get into a discussion about the leaks themselves, or how the Pentagon's internal security allowed the documents to be appropriated in the first instance. It is interesting to note the US government's initial response to the leaks however.

People were reported inside the Pentagon saying that it should not be possible to publish these types of documents on the Internet, and that governments should have greater control over what can and can't be published online.

It's very interesting this as, while this was probably a reaction resulting more from initial anger than reasoned judgement, we know that major western powers are thinking about this and that there are diametrically opposing viewpoints.

The French for instance recently passed a file sharing law that many countries in the European Union strongly disagree with, and the UK government has publicly stated that the Internet should not be constrained.

The UK is another interesting case. Here recently a premier league footballer had obtained what's known as a "super-injunction" against a former reality television personality that he'd had an affair with. The reasons for the injunction are still not clear though blackmail has been suggested. Despite the British press doing their bit to maintain the injunction and not naming the footballer, hundreds of thousands of people on Twitter publicly outed him.

This has started a debate in the UK about our own laws but not in the context of constraining the Internet, quite the opposite in fact. The debate here has been about bringing UK law up to date so that it can accommodate the Internet.

This doesn't mean that any new laws, if and when passed, won't give greater powers to the authorities over finding the identities of people who break the law online so that they can be prosecuted. Indeed every Internet service provider in the UK, after 9/11 was required to fit a "black box" so that email traffic in the country can be monitored for crime and terrorism detection purposes. Many people opposed this at the time but the Labour government in power in the early 00's got it through parliament.

Now I'm not going to speculate what freedoms we should all have online, you will decide that for yourself, but it's becoming clear that there is a very strong debate going on in the west about the Internet and if it should be constrained. It's still possible that some constraints will be put in place, all in the name of terrorism, crime and national security, and this will be a major battle-ground for people's who have so far enjoyed unfettered access to what they want to see and do online.

In part 3 of this article series I'll look at how the Internet is being used by criminals and terrorists, and also how major world powers are already using it in warfare.


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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