Friday Requiem: If you would like to clean up the internet, do it properly.

Quick note for readers.  I think it’s important that I consider my back catalogue of posts to be part of the site and that they get maintained, looked after and followed up on.  So each Friday I’ll be picking a post I did from that week last year, and see if my opinions have changed, or find out how the story develops.

So last year I wrote this:

I used to work for a forensics analysis company, processing hard drives of people that the police had arrested for various horrific child-related things. I lasted about two months and it was deeply deeply awful.

The area (enforcement of the law around making indecent images of children) is massively understaffed, and it’s massively underfunded. Particularly because it’s one of those ‘invisible’ crimes. Public outcries happen at the wrong time – when someone is caught, rather than when the crime is committed and there is never the money to do proactive enforcement of the law.

So if someone wanted to ‘clean up dark corners of the internet’, then the thing to do is to properly enforce the existing laws. To fund the teams that can protect children, to get those teams enough staff that they have time to arrest people. That would make a genuine difference.

Or, if you wanted to save some money, you could announce that you are making something else illegal as well. Yes I’d like to see *that* vanish entirely. But it’s an empty law. There simply isn’t the police staff to enforce it. Yes, a tiny fraction of people who distribute rape porn are going to be arrested (which is a good thing, no question) but for every one of them who gets arrested, someone who distributes child porn won’t be arrested.

If you want to deal with problems like rape porn and child porn then the thing to do is to fund the agencies that deal with it. If, on the other hand, you want votes from people who don’t understand the internet, then keep going as you are.

For those interested in following up on such things – the legislation is now before parliament (until I started doing this Friday Requiem posts I had NO idea how long it took to make a thing illegal. You can read the particular relevant clause of the bill here.  Simultaneously you can also read here about the one in six police jobs that are threatened. Sigh. I think we should protect children, rather than pretend to.

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