Letter: Keep censors off the Net

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Sir: At last, a well-researched non-sensationalised article on the Internet ("The net effect is confusion", 24 September). Unlike some upmarket Sundays who should know better, The Independent's article by Andrew Brown and Charles Arthur provided a clear explanation of the problems of censoring the Internet.

However, the article compared Internet service providers (ISPs) with BT when discussing the transmission of Internet porn, when the analogy should be with the Post Office. Pornographic material, much of it illegal in both country of origin and receipt, is also sent through the post. If the argument is that ISPs are breaking the law because they are storing this material on their computers, then so is the Post Office, which is storing the material in its sorting offices. Are the police suggesting that all mail from, say Amsterdam, should be opened and inspected for pornography? Will the Post Office be charged if illicit material is discovered?

Perhaps the argument is not about pornography at all. There must be many people who feel that the proposed censorship of the Internet is more to do with preventing the free flow of information. How many of us would like to have all our mail checked by the authorities before it arrived, if at all, through our letter boxes? Censoring the Internet would be the first step.