The Daily Mail – Key Player in Censorship Push
The British tabloid The Daily Mail played a crucial role in prepping the public for censorship with sensational stories pushing for default internet filters. Their influence is obvious in the way the Prime Minister chose to announce his censorship plans in the paper, and also told them to declare victory.
The Daily Mail is the second most popular newspaper in the UK, and runs the most popular online news site in the world. What you might not know is that The Daily Mail has a shadowy past steeped in fascism.
It’s not a fact they like to publicise, but it’s no secret that The Daily Mail supported Hitler and the Nazis prior to World War II and promoted fascism in the UK in the 1930s.
Harold Sydney Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Rothermere, counted himself as a friend of Mussolini and Adolf Hitler when he was proprietor of The Daily Mail. Prior to World War II, he praised Hitler publicly and privately, and met him personally in Germany. Letters show that Lord Rothermere congratulated Hitler on the annexation of Czechoslovakia and encouraged him to invade Romania. He also publicly supported the British Union of Fascists, who were known as “the Blackshirts” due to their black dress code modelled on Mussolini’s paramilitary squads. In 1934 the paper ran the notorious headline, “Hurrah for the Blackshirts”
This is an example of Harold Harmsworth’s pro fascist quotes:
“I urge all British young men and women to study closely the progress of the Nazi regime in Germany. They must not be misled by the misrepresentations of its opponents. The most spiteful detractors of the Nazis are to be found in precisely the same sections of the British public and press as are most vehement in their praises of the Soviet regime in Russia. They have started a clamorous campaign of denunciation against what they call “Nazi atrocities” which, as anyone who visits Germany quickly discovers for himself, consists merely of a few isolated acts of violence such as are inevitable among a nation half as big again as ours, but which have been generalized, multiplied and exaggerated to give the impression that Nazi rule is a bloodthirsty tyranny.”
Today The Daily Mail is controlled by the 4th Viscount of Rothermere, the great-grandson of the 1st Viscount of Rothermere.
The Daily Mail’s Block Porn Campaign
It is quite ironic that The Daily Mail ran a strident media campaign to ban online pornography because it is hardly a pillar of decorum: it provides a notoriously gratuitous display of scantily-clad celebrity pictures on the right sidebar of its website, also known as the “sidebar of shame,” and publishes highly sexualised imagery and even nude pictures itself. It has run stories about teens in skimpy bikinis and has been accused of sexualising underage girls. Its highly sexualised content is probably the reason it toppled the New York Times as the most visited newspaper site in the world.
Thus the crusade against porn is coming from a newspaper that has been accused of peddling ‘almost porn’. Yet The Daily Mail declared ‘victory’ when David Cameron made his filtering announcement. In the self-congratulatory article, the paper boasts it “led the charge” to introduce default internet filtering. The Prime Minister also acknowledges this, and is quoted saying. “‘The Daily Mail has campaigned hard to make internet search engine filters “default on”. Today they can declare that campaign a success.”
The caption under a picture of David Cameron reads: “Victory for the Mail: Prime Minister David Cameron, pictured today, today announced new rules requiring every internet connection to have porn blocked unless subscribers ‘opt in’ to obscene content”.
In fact, the original headline for the story was, “Net porn block on EVERY home: Victory for the Mail as PM pledges ‘opt in’ rule for all web users”. However, numerous comments on the article called out The Daily Mail’s hypocrisy due its own blatant use of sexual content. That could be why the headline was later changed to its current title, “Porn depicting rape to be BANNED in crackdown on ‘poisonous’ websites as Cameron unveils protection for every home”.
Perhaps they were trying to differentiate their own “obscene content” from the kind they were condemning, but the edited headline is very misleading because the filters block far more than porn depicting rape.
Throughout its “campaign” the paper, like the government, frequently conflated illegal obscene material with legal pornography, and used the two interchangeably, which implies that opposing their campaign means you support the proliferation of the most horrendous material. And there was no mention that the filters would target much more than “obscene content” and that legal pornography is just one of many categories that will be censored by the filters. And while the paper has campaigned for censorship of legal pornography, it has shamelessly continued to proliferate voyeuristic content ogling and commenting on women’s body parts on its popular news site, and the hypocrisy of its position hasn’t escaped attention.
Soon after his announcement, the Prime Minister confirmed he will not back calls for Britain’s most widely read newspaper The Sun, owned by global media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, to stop featuring topless women on page 3 (the object of a current petition with over 190,000 signatures).
So what’s going on here? David Cameron works hand in glove with the media to block legal pornography online, but has no qualms if the mainstream media publish nudity on unrestricted websites and newspapers easily viewed by children. Whose interests is David Cameron serving? And does anyone seriously believe that a salacious paper like The Daily Mail that comments daily on women’s body parts is really concerned about smut? For that matter is the government genuinely concerned? A Freedom of Information request revealed that the UK’s Government Computers were Used To Access Porn More Than 300,000 Times between May 2012 and July 2013, the month David Cameron made his announcement. Then in March 2014 a close aide of David Cameron directly involved in developing the porn filter policy, resigned after being arrested over child pornography allegations.
Unsurprisingly, The Daily Mail has also been campaigning to scrap the human rights act. Given what happened in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and the paper’s previous support for Hitler and fascism, this is rather alarming. Ironically, a major driver behind the establishment of the European Convention of Human Rights was the desire to prevent something like World War II happening in Europe again. Rupert Murdoch’s The Sun has also long been pushing to scrap the Human Rights Act. This means the two most popular papers in Britain are pushing this agenda.
The Daily Mail’s pro-Nazi past is of course not proof that pro-fascism consciously pervades in its editorial stance today. But it is nevertheless alarming that a paper which supported Hitler, Mussolini and British fascism has been the biggest propagandist behind David Cameron’s big-government authoritarian moves. It is doubtful the government could have gotten this far in its plans without this media support.
The Chinese Connection: David Cameron’s Cosy Ties with Censorship Innovator Huawei
Chinese ICT giant Huawei, founded by ex-Chinese army officer Ren Zhengfei, has also played a pivotal role in these developments. This company long accused of spying for China, led the way by operating the first network-level filter in the UK, proving it was technically possible to do and giving impetus to the government’s plans. When announcing internet censorship for the UK, David Cameron praised TalkTalk for showing “great leadership” by having Huawei filter its network. When Ed Vaizey first touted a network-level filtering policy for the UK via The Sunday Times in 2010, a TalkTalk spokesperson was quoted saying, “If other companies aren’t going to do it [install filters] of their own volition, then maybe they should be leant on.”
It is not surprising that Huawei should be ahead of the game in censoring the internet, because China’s internet censorship system is regarded as the most sophisticated in the world, and it exports its technology to other authoritarian regimes.
TalkTalk, which has previously been accused of secretly monitoring its customers, began offering Huawei’s filter “Homesafe” in 2011. All of TalkTalk’s UK web traffic is routed through Homesafe and monitored by the Chinese company whether people have the filter switched on or not.
Huawei also have a close relationship with BT, another major ISP and telecommunications provider. In 2013 a Parliamentary Committee rebuked BT’s use of Huawei to build UK telecoms infrastructure as a security risk.
Both the USA and Australia have prevented Huawei from bidding for government projects due to national security fears, because the firm is considered far too close to the Chinese government. But in December 2013 the Chinese firm was granted permission (a decision David Cameron defended) to build significant portions of the UK telecoms system, despite warnings from the former Head of Cybersecurity at the UK’s Ministry of Defence, who claimed the government was “dealing with the devil”.
David Cameron has cultivated a close relationship with Huawei. The Prime Minister welcomed Ren Zhengfei to Downing Street in September 2012, when Huawei pledged to throw $2 billion at the UK. David Cameron became very cosy with Huawei from then on, and declared the UK was “open for business”.
Is it any coincidence that, within a year of that cosy meeting, David Cameron called for the UK to adopt a censorship system that bears similarity to China’s and held up Huawei’s technology as an example to follow? Is it also a coincidence that in December 2013, the UK government granted Huawei permission to build significant portions of UK telecoms infrastructure, even though, just the year prior, the Australian Government banned Huawei from bidding for its National Broadband Network roll-out due to security concerns?
Coincidence or not, it is quite fitting that David Cameron should cosy up to Huawei while pushing Chinese-style internet censorship in the UK. One of the things they like to suppress in China is freedom of religious expression. China has only five state-sanctioned religious organisations – everything else is technically illegal and the regime disparagingly labels them “sects” or “cults”, and practitioners face harassment, imprisonment and even torture. Alternative spiritual groups targeted include underground Christian churches, Tibetan Buddhists, and the Falun Gong movement. Groups like these could easily be termed “esoteric” in the UK too.
Disturbingly, Homesafe is based on Huawei’s GREENnet filter, which was partly designed to prevent access to “unhealthy websites” in China which apparently includes those of “malicious religious groups”– according to an archive of Huawei’s GREENnet promotional literature, taken from a previous page they have since taken down.
Does David Cameron want to sneak through a clandestine Chinese-style clampdown on spirituality and political dissent in the UK? Whatever the case, it is highly alarming that David Cameron holds up technology designed to suppress dissent and religious minorities in an authoritarian country as a blue print for the UK to follow.
The situation is even more alarming when you consider the insidious ways alternative spirituality is already being targeted by other means in the UK. A look at further machinations underway reveals a stark situation.
Online Inquisition: Alternative Spirituality and Beliefs Already Targeted on Mobile Phone Networks and WiFi
A look at the levels of internet censorship already enforced by mobile phone and public WiFi providers suggests a worrying trend, with “alternative beliefs” and “esoteric” content in the firing line.
Mobile phone operator Orange Phones in the UK has already blocked websites of so-called “universally acknowledged sects” that promote “esoteric practices”. The “universal” source classifying “sects” or “esoteric practices” is not specified, nor is their justification for even blocking such content in the first place. Like many things about censorship in the UK, the rationale and agents driving these moves are shrouded in mystery. (Although it should be noted that Orange is French company, and France has particularly draconian laws against free religious expression, which might have something to do with it.)
The government has also been in close consultations with the UK’s main public WiFi providers (Arqiva, BT, Nomad, Sky, Virgin and O2) to make their filters “family friendly”. Similar to the case with ISP filters, the government talks about blocking pornography, but the filters block a whole lot more.
People have been denied access to websites labelled “alternative belief/spirituality” in public WiFi hotspots in the UK. A petition organiser against the UK’s ISP censorship policy reported having his reiki website blocked in a public café for instance.
This was not an isolated incident. A recent report by Adaptive mobile revealed that the blocking of spiritually-themed websites is widespread on UK WiFi – a staggering 44% of UK WiFi hotspots block religious sites.
Whether you call it religious, spiritual, esoteric or alternative beliefs, clearly there is an effort to target this kind of information. The esoteric label could be applied to anything providing alternative information that doesn’t fit with the secretive and powerful elite who don’t want people thinking too much outside the square – or challenging them. And those blacklisted face the double-whammy of appearing “guilty by association” by being filtered alongside dangerous, offensive and illegal content, along with being blocked into oblivion.
Might this filtering be part a wider agenda to steadily and surreptitiously erode the free expression of alternative spirituality?
A Multi-pronged Plan to Silence Dissent?
There seems to be another prong to this attack. While implementing censorship, the government is also flagging changes to laws that will disempower those likely to be targeted by their sweeping censorship.
Considering there have already been reports of internet filters blocking charities, it is rather concerning that the government has been pushing the charity-targeting “gagging bill”, which it finally passed in January 2014. The gagging bill restricts free speech and protest by preventing protest groups or charities from challenging the government policy in the lead up to elections by clamping spending caps on organised forms of dissent. Now that this law is passed, the government can limit any organised protest against the censorship system it implemented, when David Cameron and his government seek re-election in 2015. And this is significant when you consider what else is at stake in the next UK general election.
The government has also announced that, should it be re-elected, it will scrap the Human Rights Act, a bill which gives further legal effect to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), a civil liberties charter signed by Britain and other European countries in the aftermath of World War II.
Under the UK Human Rights Act (the Act), the UK Government is broadly prohibited from violating the civil liberties of its people defined in the ECHR, and citizens can seek legal recourse within UK courts if their individual rights are violated by the government. This means that civil rights enshrined in the ECHR have legal enforcement in the UK, giving it much more strength than a mere Declaration of Human Rights.
One of the civil liberties protected by the Act includes the freedom of conscience and belief, which includes the “freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs”. That freedom includes not just the right to practice one’s beliefs privately, but to express it openly – something censorship would obstruct. So for example, an employee of British Airways was able to go the ECHR when the company tried to ban her from wearing a crucifix, and her religious freedom was upheld.
Freedom of expression in general is also protected, as is the right to privacy, which may be in conflict with the government’s mass surveillance, which is the subject of current legal action. So in principle, the Act gives people a way to challenge the government if their rights are being limited by government-mandated internet filters.
For the time being, the government’s strategy to avoid such a legal challenge has been to muddy the waters by pressuring private companies to introduce censorship “voluntarily”, rather than requiring them to do it through legislation, making it ambiguous as to what extent the government holds responsibility. Ultimately, however, the government plans to scrap the human rights act altogether and has also hinted at withdrawing from the ECHR completely, which would remove all possibility of a legal challenge by this avenue.
Although there has been talk of replacing the ECHR with a British Bill of Rights, this may be the carrot that leads the donkey. Any Bill the UK creates to replace the ECHR charter with is likely to be watered down or more restrictive with the effect of providing people less rights, not more. Otherwise, why even bother with the replacement?
Another strategy the government has is to conflate the ECHR with the EU, when the two are not connected. There is significant resentment to the EU in Britain. The EU is often criticised for making decisions that suit the elite but not the ordinary people, but the government is fully committed to staying part of it. So its strategy is to redirect that resentment toward ECHR and use it a scapegoat, so it can remain in the elite-centric EU while attacking a separate body more geared towards giving ordinary people a means to appeal decisions made by the elite in governments and corporations.
By scrapping the Human Rights Act, the UK government will be able to curb their own courts from upholding human rights. Severing ties with the ECHR will then cut off UK citizens’ last line of appeal. So if a company tries to ban you from wearing a crucifix to work or blocks your spiritual website, who will you appeal to?
False Flag Fanaticism: MI5 Terror Asset used to Justify Clampdown on Human Rights
Just as the UK’s sweeping censorship uses a false premise of “protecting the children” to justify trampling on the rights of everyone, the attack on human rights in the UK is supposedly being done on the premise of making it easier for the government to deport alleged terrorists. The government wants the public to believe it is necessary to remove everyone’s human rights, because it faced delays in deporting certain individuals linked to terrorism that it could have prosecuted instead under British criminal law – but chose not to for political reasons.
The long drawn-out and expensive delays in deporting Abu Qatada have been used by the government and certain media outlets to stoke public antagonism towards the Human Rights Act, such that people have come to see human rights as a threat to their security, rather than something that protects everyone. This has generated support for government plans to not only scrap the act but withdraw from the ECHR.
The government would have known it would face delays under its human rights obligations by attempting to deport an untried and unconvicted individual to a country where he may be tortured. If the government really considered Abu Qatada to be a dangerous criminal, why not just put him on trial in the UK instead of going through the lengthy expensive deportation route?
The real reason might be that Abu Qatada was an MI5 double agent. When he was wanted by the UK’s allies early last decade, Time Magazine reported he was being kept, “tucked away in a safe house in the north of England… fed and clothed by British intelligence services,” while the UK authorities apparently pretended they did not know where he was. In all probability, the real reason he was not put on trial was that it would put his relationship to security services under the microscope. MI5 probably did not want a court scrutinising their close connections with an individual who the government claimed to be a threat to national security.
Has this whole situation been engineered as a PR exercise to push public sentiment in favour of scrapping human rights by stoking terrorism fears, using MI5 asset Abu Qatada as a scapegoat? Whatever the case, it looks fishy, and the government’s plans to gag debate prior to the next election and remove legal avenues to challenge censorship once re-elected should ring alarm bells.
Persecution of Alternative Spirituality and Esotericism through History
As we try to fathom the UK’s insidious push to target alternative spirituality by a range of means, it is worth remembering there is a historical context to this. The suppression of “esoteric” information is nothing new.
Throughout time there have been attempts to suppress the free flow of esoteric knowledge, which has the potential to empower the individual. Sometimes this has been done by dominant religious institutions, as with the brutal oppression of the Inquisition for example, or by irreligious forces opposed to spirituality, as in the religious purges of the Soviet Union. Esoteric knowledge is powerful as it allows people to wake up and question their reality, and such people cannot easily be manipulated by the powers that be. As in the past, today there are those who wish to suppress esoteric knowledge – the hidden mystical side of spirituality – as well as erode the place of public religious teachings of mainstream religion. Today these efforts are more subtle and clandestine. Slipping esoteric material categories into internet filters is a way to suppress information covertly, without people realising what they are not seeing.
This is what makes ISP level default filtering of the internet in the UK so alarming, because these filters will reach the majority of UK households and will be centralised and controlled by a few corporations behind a veil of unaccountable obscurity. The categories they block are broad, and no one really knows who is ultimately responsible for what they target. Since most people stick with default internet settings, their reach and effects could be insidious.
This situation has very serious ramifications for the free flow of alternative viewpoints, whether spiritual, political, or otherwise, which could fall into vague categories like “esoteric material” or even recently touted “extremist websites”.
An Unfolding Agenda
It is obvious that the moral cause of protecting children has been hijacked as a Trojan horse cover story to ram through a sweeping censorship regime that will ultimately restrict the internet for the majority of the UK population.
Censorship has been foisted on the UK under a diversionary pretext, led by Claire Perry, the protégé of a 7-time Bilderberg attendee, George Osborne, a close friend to Prime Minister David Cameron. Now, it seems the government is clamping down organised dissent and is seeking to entrench its censorship agenda by stoking terrorism fears to legitimise removing legal avenues to challenge these policies after the next election in 2015.
Both major parties in the UK have close ties to the Bilderberg group. Could that be why these authoritarian censorship machinations have bipartisan support? Is the UK just the first western country where these murky censorship clampdown measures will be rolled out? Is it just a coincidence that UK-style measures have since been broached in other Western nations such as Australia and Canada?
When you look at the interconnected web of elite interests involved in this scheme – encompassing the Bilderberg group, the UK government, major political parties, religious lobbyists, a firm linked to the Chinese government extending influence into the UK telecoms sector, the touting of technology developed to suppress dissent and alternative beliefs as a blueprint for the UK – and when you factor in the stealthy and deceptive way alternative beliefs are targeted under the banner of making the internet “family friendly,” the situation appears grim.
Most people would agree children should be protected from internet pornography and violent material. I don’t want to gloss over the damaging effects pornography can have and the benefits of shielding children from mass exposure to it. But that can be done with through proper supervision in conjunction with transparently operated filters installed in the home, chosen and operated by parents and carers, rather than shadowy, creeping centralised censorship systems operated by corporations without scrutiny. Parenting is the responsibility of parents and carers, not of the State or corporations.
The internet has the unique capacity to empower individuals to access and share important information the mass media does not cover. It sets a dangerous precedent if the internet in “free” countries is hijacked via censorship to be rigged in favour of corporations, government and dominant institutions, while those offering an alternative voice are blocked out. There are sinister forces who would like to suppress the knowledge about how to free our consciousness from manipulation. If “esoteric” and “alternative belief” websites are blocked, then anything that questions, challenges or provides an alternative view of the dominant power structures of society could be targeted and marginalised.
As the Bilderberg group wind up their meeting behind a cloak of secrecy in Copenhagen, and with the UK’s next election looming in 2015, we need to watch this space. The politicians must know that the public is alert to this agenda and sees through the deception. Those who care for truth and freedom should remain vigilant and ensure that people’s rights and freedoms are not silently stripped away.