Censorship of the internet is somewhat different from censorship of other mediums in the UK.

First, due to the fact that the internet is an information-transferring system, things that in real life would be theft (music/software/movie/book piracy, etc) are 'prevented' by blocking the transfer of said information, blocking access to certain sites, etc -- so, whilst there may or may not be a moral difference, mechanistically the prevention of 'theft' on the internet is achieved in exactly the same way as censorship is enforced, and so counts as a type of censorship.

Second, the internet is a somewhat new 'frontier' communication device, and so the powers-that-be haven't established their hold yet, meaning that what regulation there is is poorly enforced.

Finally, the internet transcends national boundries and connects people within the UK to content hosted outside the UK, and so how censored we are is related to how censored other countries are (e.g., china censors certain critisizm of their government, meaning we in the UK have less access to first-hand accounts of the chinese government; whilst the netherlands' sort-of-lax censorship of piracy gives us greater access to that which is censored in our own country (e.g., piratebay)). Also, many companies are obliged to follow the rules of their country, so, e.g., a US-based blog hosting company will subject us to US-censorship (although this is easily circumventable by not using a US-based hosting company)

In theory everything that is illegal and censored in other mediums is also illegal and censored on the internet. This is done by a combination of taking UK-based hosting companies/individuals to court if they try to host censored material, and -- in the case of child porn and sites promoting racial hatred -- by filtering web-requests to deny access to the forbidden material, and with the occasional individual finding themselves in court for accessing forbidden material. Stuff like slander is semi-enforced through court-cases, tho, of cource, this means that we are slightly subjected to every country's definition of what counts as slander. Pressure is put on sites such as google to remove censored websites from their search results.

In practice, the censorship is poorly enforced, and only results in certain types of porn being somewhat underground (e.g. beastiality) and others being quite hard to find (e.g., child porn) along with pro-nazi/terrorist sites, and the occasional headache for pirates. Anyway, it can be [[

Note that the web is only one thing that exists on the internet, and all the others -- email, usenet, onionnet, freenet, IRC, IM, various P2Ps, etc -- are not even censored to the extent that the web is. Child porn seems to be effectively censored on bittorrent, presumably because of how it works (I'm just going off of anecdote here btw, for all i know there's a paedobay out there somewhere for child porn torrents), but no other censorship is enforced.

Cenorship by part of the internet[]

What follows is all anecdote, some of it second hand, so it may be unreliable.


Web pages that feature child porn or material inciting racial hatred (falsly) return "404 -- page not found" messages due to the IWF

Child porn pretty effectively censored (tho this statement is somewhat dubious for just slightly under 18 year olds). other types of 'dodgy' porn (e.g., beastiality) hard to find.


Barbra Streisand effect[]

One phenomena that has recieved a lot of attention on the internet is the 'barbra streisand' effect.

Named after the first massively noticed instance of the effect when barbra streisand tried to get pictures of her seafront-house removed from a scientific report into coastal errosion published on the internet; due (at a guess) to a combination of rebbellion and 'so what are these photos we're not allowed to look at', the availability of the photos skyrocketed as a direct result of their censorship. which was funny.

This, obviously, makes censoring the web that much harder.

Two other 'famous' examples are:

  • one of the x-box's HDTV decryption keys after someone found out what it was. It was graffitied across the internet after it was deemed a forbidden string of charectors
  • the album-cover of the scorpions 'virgin killers' album, which was featured in a wikipedia article and then censored so heavy-handedly by the IWF that, e.g., the BBC linked to the sorpions home-page (where the image could be seen).


hmm... seem to remember something about plans for laws to log emails (or just the to/from addresses) for monitoring purposes? is this to censor email?)


The first instance of taking someone to court for criminally obscene text, so-and-so was taken to court for publishing a fetish story in which the members of the pop-band 'girls aloud' were raped.



Because of the way BitTorrent works it's pretty-much impossible to use it slyly, without anyone who cares to know being able to find out who is downloading what. With piracy, there's just too many downloaders to suppress, but due to the fact that virtually every country actively censors child-porn (and no-one likes viruses), child-porn and viruses are censored on BitTorrent, or at least all the more popular torrent indexing sites such as piratebay.




Designed specifically to circumvent censorship, and as such uncensored


Designed specifically to circumvent censorship, and as such uncensored


Designed specifically to circumvent censorship, and as such uncensored

Free speech[]

Various countries censor various types of speech with various degrees of competance, somewhat (but virtually never entirely) censoring oppinions/free speech. The exceptions would be pro-terrorist/pro-nazi websites, which are blocked by our own IWF and thus relatively consistently (and actually) censored.


Circumventing censorship is an article about circumventing internet-censorship.