Police chief’s remarks brings up issue of censorship

The head of  police who crushed one of  Scotland’s worst ever paedophile rings raised new concerns about censorship when he argued that paedophiles should be banned from the internet.

Allan Jones, head of the major crime unit at Lothian and Borders, said that new technologies are needed to track suspected paedophiles from accessing unlawful material on the net. The new technologies would involve all internet users having their own unique personal ID.

The personal ID would be like an online driver’s licence and so anyone gaining access to unlawful sites or pictures would be held accountable as the information would be held on the personal ID.

This would mean that suspected paedophiles could be traced once they go online and prevent them from sexually exploiting minors.

However such measures critics would say are the foundations of a surveillance state. In broader terms personal identification would mean that all members of society could be tracked and have their content viewed.

In Britain surveillance has become more prominent with the advances in computer technology.

Dr Alistair Duff, professor at Edinburgh Napier University says, ” Britain currently is a passive surveillance society. Some surveillance is necessary but the government wants more and more.”

Passive surveillance is the use of indirect techniques such as analysing records of information in order to carry out surveyance. The claims made by Det Supt. Jones would fast-track Britain into a more active form of government interference. Something that Dr Duff would not be in favour of.

Dr. Duff says, “The police have many tools already available to them when dealing with such activity. If there was to be any further methods to be introduced it would have to be discussed in a full democratic debate, before there were any sudden moves.”

Det Supt. Jones said, “My personal view is that people who have been observed electronically exchanging this type of imagery should, after appropriate investigation and punishment by the police and other authorities, have their internet service provision withdrawn.”

After a lengthy trial paedophile ringleaders James Rennie, 38, and Neil Strachan, 48 will serve a minimum of 13 years and 16 years respectively for their part in the child sex ring.