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------- Forwarded message follows -------
To:             	ukcrypto@chiark.greenend.org.uk
Subject:        	OT: BBFC? VCHIP-UK?
Date sent:      	Thu, 26 Oct 2000 14:31:20 +0100
From:           	Alec Muffett <alecm@coyote.uk.sun.com>
Send reply to:  	ukcrypto@chiark.greenend.org.uk

Half-heard on the "Today" program on R4 this morning: an item saying
that the Home Secretary was "getting tough" on "adult" video material
and video nasties, and (who knows what else, that sort of stuff...)

So far, so titillating, and so normal from Today's James Naughtie.

A spokesman from the BBFC (British Board of Film Censorship) was
trotted on to say that some government-proposed appeals committee
would be better-off making it's decisions appeals against BBFC
ratings, on the basis of whether certain finite "restrictions" had
been exceeded, without recourse to arguments of "artistic merit", etc.

Again, the sort of stuff you would expect a quango to want, turning an
oversight committee into a rubber-stamping organisation.

However, I woke up and actually started listening when Naughtie seemed
to be reading from a Government proposal document, something along the
lines of Jack Straw proposing/seeking mechanisms for enforcement of
censorship *in the home*, presumably along the lines of the great
American V-Chip debacle.

Can anyone cite sources for this story and/or government proposal,

Admittedly the only thing I watch on TV nowadays is the 10pm News,
MTV2, Simon Singh on Channel4, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer - yes, I
*am* a geek - but I object on principle to the notion of the
Government enforcing content restrictions at the consumer end of

This ability (were it applied to broadcast TV) would give too much
scope for abuse of privilege; it would be a horror if "Dispatches", or
"Panorama", or "World in Action" wanted to trash (eg) Labour Party
Policy, and the audience were restricted by giving the data an "XXX"
rating or somesuch.

Given the continuing failure of "region coding" to enforce artificial
market restrictions upon DVDs[1], the notion of a similar/parallel
mechanism being used to enforce censorship of pre-recorded media in
the home, seems doomed.

In between this sort of nonsense (if it proves real) and the Council
of Europe draft treaty on Cybercrime[2] - a document that recommends
destroying the foundations of the computer security profession, whilst
simultaneously undermining the evolutionary pressures which are
driving computer vendors towards provision of decent computer
security[3] - between these two, I personally am feeling very worried
regarding the future of both technology, and freedom, in Europe.

- Alec Muffett
  Sr Staff Engineer/ Sr Security Architect
  Sun Microsystems

[1] ...circumvention of which would probably become illegal under the
    Council of Europe draft treaty on Cybercrime; have any solicitors
    out there got a 'chipped" DVD and would like to comment?

[2] http://conventions.coe.int/treaty/en/projets/cybercrime.htm

[3] ...of course, it could be argued that Governments don't *want*
    vendors to provide their citizenry with secure computer systems.

  [opinions and statements cited herein are personal and may not be
      alec muffett - random numbers: 40915 93 - alec.muffett @

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