Among the more absurd things ever said about the internet was that the network “interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it”. The epigram was half true, but the half that was false gets more important every year.
The internet can be a vile place, and the instinct to enforce some standards there is not misplaced. The director of public prosecutions, Alison Saunders, is quite right to say that crime online is as serious as crime offline. Even the Guardian, wedded to the idea of free speech, does not imagine that this is an unrestrained freedom – only that the limits that the law should set are minimal and largely concerned with public order. But some limits must exist, and they must be enforced.