It was inevitable that, sooner or later, the usual unholy alliance of government totalitarians and big business would attempt to end the democratic free-for-all that is the blogosphere. The United Nations is showing similar interest in moving to eliminate free speech.
The recent uprising in the blogosphere that resulted in the overturning of the Global Warming consensus can only have focused our rulers’ attention more acutely on this infuriating challenge to their totalitarian control. “What will go next?” they must be asking themselves. Unrestricted immigration? Punitive taxation? Even the European Union? With the helots exploiting a loophole in the PC Curtain that has otherwise been so remorselessly drawn down over freedom of expression, the internet represents a dangerously subversive force, fulfilling the role in the West that was formerly performed by samizdat publications inside the Soviet Union.
American protesters are most vociferous in defence of their rights because that is their culture. Some of them claim that British people are being dangerously indifferent to the long-term potential for censorship of the so-called Digital Economy Bill being slithered through Parliament by Lord Mandelson. The inference they draw is that, just as Britons supinely submitted to firearms legislation that has led to a situation where “only the bad guys have guns”, we may be sleepwalking into internet slavery.
The technique is familiar. The powers-that-be allow a scandalous situation to develop whereby no serious attempt is made to police paedophile, pornographic and criminal activity on the web. Then the authorities use the excuse of public concern to overreact and impose Draconian controls that police ordinary citizens but are usually circumvented by criminals. It is a familiar scenario, offline as well as in cyberspace.
A “driver’s licence” for the web would be Christmas every day of the year for the control freaks. One can all too easily imagine the criteria applied to licence applications. (“Name? Delingpole…? You wot! ’Ere, I’ve got your number, mate – you’re that bloke wot feeds polar-bear steaks to kids innit. Internet licence? I should coco! On yer bike, mate, it’s more than my job’s worth to be seen talking to you…”)