In the same way as there is a perceived ‘freedom of speech’ in the UK, most people don’t see how much censorship there is.
In December 2000, a Communications White Paper setting out the “Government’s response to the new communications environment” was jointly published by the Departments of Trade and Industry (DTI), and Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).
In relation to regulation of Internet content, the White Paper stated that research done showed people want tools that help them control what they and their children will see on the Internet, in place of “third-party regulation” and that government and industry partnership provides the best approach:
“6.3.4 … We recognise, for example, that partnership provides the best approach for Internet services. In this area, therefore, we will expect OFCOM to continue to support the Internet Watch Foundation‘s work to allow Internet users to regulate their own Internet experience, or that of their children, by using rating and filtering systems, as outlined in section 6.10.”
“6.10.1 OFCOM should ensure continuing and effective mechanisms for tackling illegal material on the Internet, such as those being pursued under the auspices of the Internet Watch Foundation. It will also promote rating and filtering systems that help Internet users control the content they and their children will see.
Yet, the UK government is forcing by law, Internet Service Providers to block direct access to sites. Now it’s interesting to note that these sites are not being block for decency laws, child pornography, or terrorist activity but ‘deemed to be facilitating copyright infringement’.
The long embattled ‘Pirate Bay’ was one of the first to be blocked, and they now have EZTV also blocked by the same order. Various ‘other’ sites not connected where also blocked at the same time due to the ‘poor’ systems that some ISP’s used to block access. Reports of parts of Wikipedia being blocked and
Being blocked to name just a few.
Now, there are as always methods for bypassing the watchful eye of Big Brother. One of the most straight forward bits of software to install is Tor . Now, this is a great place to start.
Tor is free software which will ‘bounce’ your traffic round the world to help conceal your location. Because, your traffic is encrypted several times and routed round the world through several relays before exiting the network via an exit point where it decrypts the traffic and sends the original data without knowing the sender to the final destination. So, it helps avoid blocks to ‘restricted’ sites as helps ‘cover your tracks’ when it comes to GCHQ and NSA systems. It’s somewhat ironic then that Tor was originally designed, implemented, and deployed as a project of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Developed with the U.S. Navy in mind, for the primary purpose of protecting government communications. It has a following around the world, by people whose location and communications could put their lives at risk. Journalists, Dissidents, Law enforcement agencies, and so on; the list is enlightening.
There are ‘side-effects’ on using Tor. For example, you can checkout the on-line purchase of software from Microsoft and other companies and see just how much you can save from purchasing licenses when they think you are in the USA. Feed up with all those annoying adverts that you get… Use Tor, and suddenly the ads. who use geo-coding of your IP address to target you will think you are somewhere else in the world. It is ’fun’ for a while, to see the same ads that promise ‘local’ services have the same pictures of people who are still just 5k away now appear in German, French or whatever
I would also suggest Bruce Schneier’s advice may be useful.
Another, item to add to your list of software would be PeerBlock . Unlike items such are Nortons and other ‘firewall’ software you might have loaded, PeerBlock allows a user to add their choice of lists of systems which have advertising, spyware, p2p monitoring and so on to be added to the deny or allow. However, please note this will not work with Tor due to the way Tor works.