Not content with landing herself with a libel writ due to appalling misunderstanding of the Internet, everyone's favourite Helen Lovejoy - Devizes MP Claire Perry - now has the cunning idea that the Church of England should divest itself of shares in Google. And why?
Mrs Perry said: "It is quite clear that many companies, in particular British Internet Service Providers are finally now taking a really responsible approach to this [Internet porn filtering]. They are seeing that we want a level of social responsibility. “There are others out there who have not got that attitude. The Prime Minister was saying Google have a responsibility, they are effectively helping people for which there can be no case made."Not the most coherent message, but you get her general drift: Google is not dancing to my tune, what impudence! we must slap them on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.
Let's assume that this isn't a piece of pointless political posturing and that Perry MP thinks this will actually make a difference. So how much are we talking here?
Accounts published later this year will show that the Church’s pension fund has a £5.7 million stake in the internet search giant, alongside significant investments in a number of internet service providers.That's about $8.7M, or slightly under 10,000 shares at Google's current stock price of $885. Since about 1.7M Google shares traded yesterday, and Google's market cap is a little under $300 billion, the effectiveness of this divestment could be measured at the same scale as a dog breaking wind in the middle of a tornado.
If I had a more suspicious mind, I'd think that Claire Perry was waving such pointlessly flimsy proposals at friendly journos to distract (squirrel!) from her little contretemps with Guido Fawkes... I'm glad however that the Archbish has a much more honest approach to the issue:
"If you exclude any contact with anything that directly or indirectly gets in any way bad, you can't do anything at all."
For a good take on the very real problem which Claire Perry is trying, desperately ineptly, to tackle, I recommend Greg Ferenstein's piece on Internet filtering. Go read the whole thing, but here's a taste:
The problem with this approach is that the world isn't PG-13. Politics, business, and personal health regularly intersect with adult issues. The (very) savvy engineers at Apple have already discovered that you have to apply a tourniquet to the First Amendment to effectively block children from seeing naughty pictures.