Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications is considering implementing a system whereby visitors to a list of government proscribed sites would have their access restricted to a warning message, in much the same way as with China and elsewhere.
Their ostensible aim is a crackdown on sites serving pornography featuring underage participants.
The measures, which are currently being moved towards the experimental phase, would involve forwarding the requestor of a verboten URL to a page explaining that access is restricted (an unspecified “etc.” is also mentioned).
The same censorship technology is apparently already in use in ten mainly European nations, where anti-pornography laws are much broader in extent (if we except the mosaic laws in Japan); recall that a full ban on all “violent” pornography is due to come into force in the UK soon, and in a number of places various types of drawn images are also illegal. A ban on 2D loli images is also being explored in Japan.
What a simple matter it would be to expand the coverage of online censorship in such cases to include all such material, and beyond, using this kind of infrastructure.
ISPs are also likely to be groaning over this latest measure – the previous law requiring access for minors to be restricted came essentially without any warning or industry consultation, and made considerable demands of them.
The request for them to participate in trials of the censorship infrastructure may not necessarily mean the ministry has any intention of heeding technical objections, but on the other hand it may offer ISPs a chance to ameliorate technically illiterate political demands – whatever the case, it is a difficult position for ISPs, who generally stand only to lose money from such systems.
We do not hear if they have anything more than a simple blacklist in mind – presumably such measures would be easily circumvented, as is visible in the case of China and similar, and they do not address at all the question of encrypted P2P communications (though unencrypted P2P is already being targeted). To say nothing of what is quite legally provided…