Without greater access to our online habits, politicians cannot frame laws for the digital age
The UK government’s porn block was a dead man walking for months, if not years. It is long overdue that this attempt to curb children’s access to online pornography is scrapped. Almost two years ago, a close colleague and I sat in a meeting with one of the policymakers who had recently been asked to implement the proposal. The pained look on his face when we queried his progress confirmed our suspicions that it was an impossible task. It was clear to many that the block could – and would – never come to pass.
The plan did not have just one achilles heel – it had many.
Scientists and other stakeholders cannot access information about what the population is actually doing online
Describing a documented database as ‘secret’ risks causing unjustified distrust in a multi-agency programme that seeks to protect those vulnerable to all forms of radicalisation and keep our communities safe, writes Chief Constable Simon Cole
Your front-page lead (7 October) talks of a “secret” police Prevent database. It is not a very well kept “secret”; a quick online search brings up numerous references to its existence in public documents – and it is where the published annual referral statistics are sourced from. The Prevent pages on the National Police Chiefs’ Council website also refer to the fact Prevent officers keep records.
We do this for exactly the same purpose we document other forms of supportive safeguarding activity such as for child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse or human trafficking. It means we can be – and are – subject to oversight and accountability.
Exclusive: Hannah Fry says ethical pledge needed in tech fields that will shape future
Mathematicians, computer engineers and scientists in related fields should take a Hippocratic oath to protect the public from powerful new technologies under development in laboratories and tech firms, a leading researcher has said.
The ethical pledge would commit scientists to think deeply about the possible applications of their work and compel them to pursue only those that, at the least, do no harm to society.
Despite being invisible, maths has a dramatic impact on our lives
Web security firm Cloudflare’s decision to terminate 8chan as a customer is welcome, but risks setting a dangerous precedent
Last Saturday morning, a gunman armed with an assault rifle walked into a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, and shot 22 people dead and injured 24 more. Shortly before he did so, a post by him appeared on the /pol/ [politically incorrect] message board of the far-right website 8chan. Attached to it was a four-page “manifesto”. The 8chan thread was quickly deleted by a site moderator (it was news to me that 8chan had moderators), but archived copies of it rapidly circulated on the internet.
“There is nothing new in this killer’s ramblings,” wrote one analyst who had read it. “He expresses fears of the same ‘replacement’ of white people that motivated the Christchurch shooter and notes that he was deeply motivated by that shooter’s manifesto.”