Wikipedia Co-founder Jimmy Wales Blasts U.K. Internet Filtering Plan

Bob Johnson

LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron’s promised Internet filtering plan has come under fire by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales.

Wales, one of Cameron's trusted technology advisors and an advocate for online open access told The Guardian that the plan is “"ridiculous,” maintaining that the government should police Internet crime like credit card fraud instead.

"When Cameron uses the example of pedophiles that are addicted to internet porn — all that these plans would do is require them to opt in," he said. "It's an absolutely ridiculous idea that won't work."

Wales’ comments follow a continuing outcry by free Internet supporters who feel the government’s overstepping its bounds by forcing users to opt in to see certain content, specifically adult material.

In his recent speech, Cameron announced that in an effort to protect children from questionable online content, the major ISPs including BT, Virgin, Sky and TalkTalk — that service 90 percent of the country’s internet users — have agreed to install mandatory filtering software by 2014.

But according to some critics, including Wales, the proposal is not feasible and would only be applied to new subscribers.

Pointing to the recent U.S. National Security Agency Internet snooping scandal, Wales said "billions had been wasted shopping on ordinary people's data in a fruitless search for terrorists."

"We should be devoting a significant proportion of that to dealing with the real criminal issues online, stealing credit card numbers, hacking into sites … that is going to take an investment in real, solid police work," Wales said.

The filtering backlash was also evident when a U.K. hacker recently created a firewall that only allows users to visit adult sites in protest over the proposed plan.