"It is time for another revolution"

Posted by MadScientist (Düsseldorf, Germany) on 1 May 2009 in Plant & Nature and Portfolio.

Germany's Minister for Family Affairs, Ursula von der Leyen, has given a radio interview last week, where she gave deep insights into her motivation on fighting child pornography in the Internet though establishing blacklists and web site barriers. My favourite passage of this interview reads as follows:

"We know that most of the common customers, around 80 per cent, are ordinary Internet users. Everybody who listens now, might ask himself: who do I know who's able to deliberately circumvent these barriers in the Internet. These people have to be technically adept. They are the 20 per cent. That are in part heavy paedophiliac criminals. They move in very different forums. They are versed Internet users, trained in this disgusting business over the years." (Source; Translation by me)

I leave it up to you to decide where in this 80 / 20 world of our Minister for Family Affairs you would fit. Be warned: being able to maintain a blog certainly makes you 'technically adept'.

When it comes to cutting civil liberties, German politicians eagerly try to keep pace with those of other countries. Fighting terrorism or child pornography are perfect instruments to restrict access to the Internet, even if our minister thinks she's really protecting children*. So how are they going to do that?

It was Australia's Internet blacklist (the one that was later exposed at Wikileaks) that inspired our politicians. This list is basically a compilation of web site addresses that providers are asked to block by altering the appropriate DNS records. Every request to one of the sites on the list will be redirected to a legal site or result in an error message.

The German blacklist will be pretty much the same. It's kept secret, apart from a few system administrators and technicians at Germany's Internet backbones nobody outside the circles of well-informed pundits will know its content. According to the draft law, Internet providers will have to record each access to one of the blacklisted sites and send the IP address of the requester / customer to the BKA, Germany's Federal Criminal Police Office. If it was really you who tried to access a blocked site or a virus on your computer; if you deliberately wanted to call that site or you erroneously followed a link in an e-mail; if you unsolicitedly received an e-mail that automatically loads content / images from a blocked site: All this immediately creates an initial suspicion; your chance of getting a house search the day after gets really big. You better have a backup of your data, as you probably won't see your computer again.

You never will know which sites are blocked until you see the proposed 'stop sign page' that will be delivered to your browser in case of an unallowed access. Additionally, other branches already show interest in adding addresses to this blacklist. The relentless content and media industry eagerly wishes to block all these bad download sites too; and why not block sites with unwanted political content, inconvenient blogs, impertinent forums and the like. When that list gets longer and longer, and the more non-specific its content is, the less you will feel ike surfing the web, unless you're going to visit only sites you know very well - only these sites, as unknown websites might be too dangerous to explore.

It's the old game of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. It's the end of the web as we know it. And much more. Resistance is still too weak. Do you belong to these 20 per cent, Mrs. von der Leyen talked about? You're one of these bloggers, aren't you? Huh?


* She isn't, as youth welfare offices, helpdesks etc. are experiencing deep cuts in finances and staffing. Not a single site that is really offering criminal types of pornography is going to be closed by just establishing a blacklist.

dj.tigersprout from New York City, USA, United States

wow -- STUNNING!!! do more shots like this!!! a faaabulous sense of the infinite worlds of the mind!!!

1 May 2009 5:10am

@dj.tigersprout: I'll see what I can do! :-)

Linerberry from Sumner, Christchurch, New Zealand

What a superb shot ms!!! I love its composition and tones are superb!!!
It really is quite worrying about the internet blacklisting. Tho I can see where it has come from it does not seem to be the best solution!!!

1 May 2009 5:43am

@Linerberry: I think politicians know that, but blocking some sites is just a first step until they establish a more thorough blocking technology, maybe a mandatory proxy with content filtering. This is just a filtering technique, though - no bad site will be closed by this. It's just a technique for restricting access for people like you and me.

P J W Miller from Chase Terrace, United Kingdom

The simplest way to put a stop to this disgusting situation across the world is: once perpetrators have been identified and it is proven beyond doubt that they are guilty, they should be exterminated and those that protect them should see a similar fate. A special form of extermination should be created for these deviants to deter others from going down the same path. Again (20/80), the minority spoil it for the majority, the internet that is.

I like the water seems to be creeping up to overwhelm the pebbles, Revolution Indeed

1 May 2009 7:45am

@P J W Miller: Certainly perpetrators have to get a draconian penalty - but that's not the main target of political actions like the one I've described here. In the end it's about censorship; no bad site will be closed just by blocking access to this site. It would be quite easy to shut down criminal web sites: a little police activity, a message to the hosting provider, and the site would be closed in no time. But a confidential blacklist that puts you in jeopardy because you don't know if the site you are going to visit might be blacklisted, just produces self censorship. Not a single child will be saved through this.

observing from North West, United Kingdom

Excellent shot with the river water bubbling up, it looks active.

1 May 2009 11:28am

@observing: It is! (Okay, these waves were really tiny. We were sitting on the Rhine bank and every ship produced a bit of swell.)

WABIKOJA from Shiga, Japan

I really enjoy the feel and look of this image.

1 May 2009 1:33pm

@WABIKOJA: Thanks very much!

Mariana from waterloo, Canada

Great capture . Excellent BW !!

1 May 2009 3:22pm

@Mariana: Many thanks, Mariana!

Ronnie 2¢ from London, United Kingdom

The water neatly reflects the turmoil in everyday society . . your government sounds as ill-equipped as all others in identifying the problems let alone coming up with viable answers.

1 May 2009 5:09pm

@Ronnie 2¢: Let's say Mrs. von der Leyen is setting new standards here. :-/

Steven from Chicagoland, United States

Great capture of this wave action. I like all the "bubbliness."

1 May 2009 10:20pm

@Steven: They were quite tiny, made me think to use my macro lens. :-)

DarkElf from Perth, Australia

fabulously creative and imaginative photo! wonderful light and detail and perfect DOF! very abstract in nature and very engaging! i also appreciate the comments about the Internet Blacklist - especially as I live in Australia and they made a big fuss about it here...

1 May 2009 11:39pm

@DarkElf: In my opinion they start with something simple just for enabling a law for blocking Internet traffic. In the beginning the technical hurdles to circumvent these techniques might be low, but it's easy to criminalize savvy Internet users and to establish better techniques sometime later.

JoeB from Brampton, Canada

Sooner or later the governments have to put their foot in, 20% seems high to me, inflated for political purposes is more like it.

3 May 2009 11:34pm

@JoeB: These 20% are a complete washout, invented for a pure hype. It's an insolence without precedent to put computer-savvy users into the same group with paedophiliacs! Such people are governing my country!

Twelvebit from Victoria, United States

It's amazing how all these "leaders" speak from the same script, even in different countries. The FBI arrested a 16 year old kid a couple months ago here and is holding him under the "Patriot Act" without his rights under the Constitution. He is accused of nothing more than making a "bomb threat." No evidence was found to substantiate either the accusation or any intention to make a bomb. So I guess if I threatened to "destroy the world" I'd be the world's most dangerous criminal.

The tie in to your posting? The government's basis for charging and holding him as a "terrorist" is simply that he has more computer knowledge than the average user. So in German, they're trial ballooning the concept, here they're actually using it against people. No doubt the deliberately picked a case with a 16 year old child in order to set a precedent for more sweeping power.

Obviously, the "authorities" are attempting to demonize not only the internet, but the people who use it for anything more than finding out the latest on Brittney Spears, reading ads, and buying things. This is just another aspect of the recent nonsense about "terrorists" attacking the electric grid using the internet. Complete BS. Not the least of which because the very same authorities are pushing for MORE internet control of the electric grid with their "smart Grid" proposals.

The only opposition to the ruling criminal elites is on the internet. The MSM is completely controlled --at least it is in this country, where nothing gets through our gatekeepers but "authorized" information and viewpoints. For instance, I haven't seen a SINGLE article in any mainstream "news" source that interviews electric industry experts about the real risks of internet sabotage --just the bullshit hype that is a complete distortion or reality.

5 May 2009 7:20pm

@Twelvebit: We have two different fright scenarios here: first, there's thought crime, I must not do anything that could be wrong, so I better don't do anything. I won't even think of doing it, because even the thought could be criminal. Second, it's the fear of the youth, young people are watched with more and more distrustfulness, restrictions and penalties are getting stronger all the time. Maybe a sign of an aging society.
I completely agree with your comment, so many people are brainwashed that they even don't notice that there are alternatives to the 'truth' coming through the media. But there are still traces of veracity, I sometimes find them in blogs.

Twelvebit from Victoria, United States

And btw, people have to be complete idiots to swallow any of this child porn BS for blacklisting websites. If they know enough about a website to blacklist it they know enough to go arrest the people running it. That means the only places these sites can be operated are countries where child porn is legal. And just where are those countries? If there are countries like this, how come we're not hearing about them and imposing international sanctions instead of this blacklisting BS?

5 May 2009 7:30pm

@Twelvebit: Exactly! You know what the reason for this BS in Germany is: the election campaign has just started and our politicians want to demonstrate their 'capacity to act'. Civil rights? Don't worry, nobody will notice.

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