Letter: Overreaction to the Internet

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The Independent Online
Sir: In his comment on the trial of the murderers of Daniel Handley, David Aaronovitch suggests several steps that could be taken to protect our children (17 May). Among them is: "Clean up the Internet".

This is despite the fact that the murderers, Morss and Tyler, are a couple of life-long misfits who met while in prison for previous offences against children, where they fuelled one another's depraved fantasies. One of them is reported to be educationally sub-normal and it is highly unlikely that either of them knew how to surf the Net or had access to it.

Horrible though this case is, I am not aware of any suggestion that the Internet played a part in it, either by enabling the two to contact each other, or by stimulating them with pornography.

People like myself in universities or industry whose work depends crucially upon the easy access to a wide group of colleagues at home and abroad that only the Internet can provide, are concerned that government overreaction can lead to severe restrictions for legitimate users of the Internet, as has already happened in France and Germany.

This type of hysterical knee-jerk reaction is not a constructive contribution to public debate on the management of electronic communications.

PETER MELLOR

Centre for Software Reliability

City University

London EC1

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