Douglas Carswell

27 DEC 2008

This man thinks he knows what's best for you

Culture Secretary Andy Burnham says internet sites could be given 'cinema-style age ratings'Andy Burnham MP, our very own Minister for Culture, wants to rein in the internet, and, according to today's Telegraph, "censor some websites". 

Does Andy's internet regulation scheme mean having some sort of a regulator?  Rather like OFSTED or OFWAT or OFGEM, perhaps the new regulator could imaginatively be called OFWEB?  Maybe it could set minimum standards, educate people on what's appropriate, clamp down on irresponsible bloggers, blah blah blah?    

The internet can be a rather wild place.  Just as cheap paper and the printing press spawned all sorts of dodgy pamphlets in the 1700s, there's lots of dodgy stuff on-line today. 

But surely with a little common sense, personal responsibility and the use of parental controls, it's perfectly possible to avoid anything horrid?  As the internet evolves, various websites are evolving brands that guarantee certain standards anyhow, in much the same way that newspapers have.       

Besides, how effective would any imposed system of regulation be?  OFSTED, the quango regulator responsible for ensuring that Baby P's social workers were doing their job properly, gave Haringey social workers a good approval rating shortly before Baby P died.  That's right - the regulator failed to do its job properly.  With catastrophic consequences.

Why would quangos and officials be any better at patrolling the internet?  

Andy Burnham's proposals are based on an assumption that a remote official is better at deciding what is and what is not good for you.  They aren't.  You are.

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