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Christian Broadband: Censorship, a Sensible Precaution or a Cop Out? December 17, 2009

Posted by Phil Groom in Life Issues, Technology.
Tags: , , ,

YESTERDAY EVENING I received an email from Christian Broadband, trying to persuade me to sign up to their protected internet service. At one level it seems like a good idea: there’s so much filth and other crud out here (I nearly said, “out there”…) — why not let someone else do the hard work of filtering it out? And let’s not pretend it isn’t a problem: millions of people, Christians included, find themselves ensnared by internet pornography. Christianity magazine ran a couple of features on the subject back in February this year and at LST that issue sold out in record time: as I said at the time, porn sells.

But is a service like Christian Broadband really the way to deal with the problem? To me the approach feels far too much like the thought police: allowing someone else to decide what I or anyone else on my network may or may not read or see, which sites we may or may not visit. Worse: that person is not even a legitimate authority but simply someone who claims to know best.

Here’s the Christian Broadband approach:

Do you know what your children are looking at whilst they are doing their homework?

Do you know what your husband is watching while he is checking his e-mail?

Or your wife when she is chatting with friends?

That, I find deeply disturbing. Fair enough, children need protecting: no child should have completely unfiltered content available to them — that’s why newsagents put the porn mags on the top shelves. Responsible parents should be using some sort of filtering technology.

But those next two questions seem to strike at the very heart of human relationships. No, I don’t know what my wife is browsing right now; and she doesn’t know what I’m working on right now. But we trust one another: that’s our starting point, that’s what our relationship is built upon. Mutual respect, mutual trust.

Yes, there may be some people whose relationships have broken down, who need the reassurance that a protected network can bring: but what’s left if we make fear and suspicion our starting point? I applaud the initiative: I am appalled at the implications.

I acknowledge that the vulnerable need protection, that some things should be censored, even banned. But for that, I want the legitimate authorities, the law of the land and international law, to be proactive. I don’t want my internet access restricted by someone whose only claim to legitimacy is a set of ‘Christian’ values that I may or may not agree with.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; but when I grew up, I put childish ways behind me: I became responsible for my own thoughts and actions.

Christian Broadband: a sensible precaution for kids, I guess; but for adults capable of thinking for themselves? Looks like a cop out to me.

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