Archive | Politics

Web Links to Be Banned by EU

A person draws a series of links connecting in a network of referrals, representing a well search engine optimized website or an organization of connected peopleShocking news has reached me this morning from a friend who works at the EU. He tells me they are drawing up plans to ban all links on the web. Within a year from today it will be illegal to include links on any web pages or blogs you produce without prior permission from the owner of the links.

It follows on from the EU ban on cookies, which has led millions of web pages asking you to click on a pop-up item confirming you agree to links. It is part of the EU clamp-down on privacy. The legislators in Brussels have argued that linking to someone else’s website is a similar invasion of privacy and therefore no links should be included in web pages without the prior permission of the owner of that link.

The initiative, drawn up secretly over the past year, is known as the Actual Permissions Required In Linking (APRIL). According to my friend in the know, an announcement was due to be made yesterday, but the press release had not been signed off in time. So the announcement has been delayed until today.

However, because I had been told in advance I contacted the Federation for Online Open Linking (FOOL) to find out what they thought. They told me: “This is a disaster. It undermines the entire purpose of the Internet. We may as well close it down and go back to pen and paper.”

Looking at the EU’s plans, though, I suspect that is not going to happen. Rather like the EU Cookie Directive which effectively means that every website currently shown in the EU is illegal, the APRIL directive is unlikely to have any significant impact.

I suspect, though, it will lead to a major new industry in gaining link permissions, which could rival the entire SEO industry in terms of size and importance. Perhaps I will be able to report on that in exactly one year from today.

See other stories which I published on 1st April:

For more information on this story please click here.

Categories: Politics

UK Government misunderstands web porn

????????????????????????????????????????????Yesterday the Government took to the broadcast airwaves and David Cameron has taken to Twitter to say how fantastic it is that they have “forced” the Internet giants to block child porn online. But don’t be fooled. The Government is making you think that they have achieved something, when in reality they have probably made things worse.

This is not the first time the Government has fooled the public into believing it is doing something about online dangers. Earlier this year it suggested that service providers would make all kinds of pornography blockable, thereby filtering out potentially dangerous material for children in particular. As I wrote at the time, this is patent nonsense showing a complete lack of understanding of the way the Internet works and the way people use the web.

This time, the Government has shown yet more misunderstanding. It seems to believe that people interested in child pornography go to Google to find it. Fact: they do not. They share it using “torrent” style sites, peer-to-peer networks and in the inner recesses of what is known as the “dark” web. Indeed, there is little benefit in them trying to search on Google anyway because existing filters would have blocked much of the vile content anyway.

Google and Microsoft have tightened up their existing filters and added in some additional boosts to their software so that illegal material will be flagged. That’s a great addition for the innocent finding of child porn by people looking for something else but where their search term unearthed dubious content.

However, none of this is going to have any significant impact on the production and sharing of child pornography and it is hardly going to impact upon the harm and abuse happening to children.

The Government is making people think that their initiative is brilliant and that it will have an effect. The Government and David Cameron are making the public think something is being done, when in reality what they are doing is making the situation worse. The reason is that by making people think something is being done, the politicians will be under less public pressure to do anything about the issue. It is a smokescreen.

Apart from the fact that this latest “initiative” shows, once again, a fundamental misunderstanding of how people use the Internet, it also implies that the Government is involved in a cynical move aimed more at attracting votes than actually doing anything about the problem.

The real issue is that CEOP, now part of the National Crime Agency, has had budget cuts and has a really small number of staff in comparison to what it needs. There is serious under resourcing in dealing with online crime of all kinds, in particular in terms of child abuse.

This week’s initiative from the Government which David Cameron appears to be proud of, is actually virtually useless. Indeed, it is likely to be making the situation worse, because rather like the move in the summer to block porn at source it lulls people into a false sense of security, making people think something has at last been done, when in reality the child abusers will be rubbing their hands in glee that the Government has missed the point – AGAIN…!

Categories: Politics

Why don’t old people use the Internet?

Old man and young women using computerYoung people below the age of 24 have grown up with the Internet; they have no knowledge or memory of the world before the web. To them it has always been there. It is no wonder that they are amongst the most highly represented group of people online. Indeed, according to Pew Internet, 98% of people under the age of 29 use the Internet.

However, they are statistically much more likely to be online than their grandparents. In the over 65 age group, Internet usage plummets to 56%. Now there is a margin of error in these research figures, so it basically means that nine out of ten young people use the web, whereas only six out of ten pensioners do so.

That’s still the majority of course, but it means the Internet is much more popular in youngsters than oldies.

But look at the figures again. How much of this difference is actually due to age?

More significant are two other factors – education and income. The Internet is a rich person’s world and highly educated rich people at that. Those aged 65 and over had fewer educational opportunities when they were young. Going to university was rare, now it is the norm. Poverty is also significantly more frequent in the over 65s than it is in younger generations.

Having enough money to pay for web access and then having the educational attainment to understand the online world and be able to use it are the real limiting factors. They probably also explain why not everyone under the age of 65 uses the web.

This concept is known as the “digital divide” where the online world favours the rich and well educated. But there appears to be a growing new kind of digital divide – the social skills divide.

New research shows that people who have lots of “friends” and do lots of mobile phone activity report MORE loneliness than those who have fewer friends and use their mobiles less. The “social deficit” theory suggests that people are more lonely when they have less face-to-face contact. This research did indeed find in favour of that theory.

Unexpectedly, though, it found that people with lots of contacts also felt lonely. The chances are these people are spending less time in face-to-face and more time in electronic communication.

Maybe that old-young person digital divide has nothing to do with age, finances or education after all. Maybe it is that the over 65s have realised the value of face-to-face. They know that being offline is better for them psychologically. Perhaps we should be encouraging those rich college kids to stop using the Internet so much. We could be creating a whole new kind of digital divide.

Categories: Internet Psychology, Politics