We tend to think of firewalls as either trying to keep people outside from getting in, or to keep those inside from looking out. The Chinese have firewalls around government websites to protect them from prying eyes, as well as around the whole country to stop their people from seeing the whole big bad web. But I can't think of an example where other people will build a firewall around you to keep you in your place. It's like having the wall around your property built by all your neighbours; why don't they like you?

This is the threat hanging over Britain, claims Simon Singh, as he writes his last column for The Guardian. The libel case with the BCA has highlighted how skewed British libel laws are in favour of any rich and belligerent plaintiff. Singh is not the only scientist in the dock for his views, with Peter Wilmshurst being sued by a US medical company. There appear to be no sensible laws regarding the most appropriate jurisdiction in which to sue someone. Any publication that publishes in the UK is potentially liable to be sued. Now, with so much published on the internet, any publication that can be viewed in the UK will also feel vulnerable.

The National Enquirer has stopped selling in the UK and blocks access to its website from any UK IP. That in itself may not be a great loss to British culture, however, "major US newspapers, such as the Boston Globe and The New York Times, sent a memo last year to the House of Commons select committee on media, libel and privacy. They warned that they are considering stopping the sale of their publications in Britain due to the threat of libel. The benefits of selling newspapers here in terms of profit are outweighed by the potential losses in libel cases."

What if parts of the internet start to go dark for anyone unfortunate enough to have a UK IP address? Access to knowledge and the freedom to debate will start to shrink as these infamous libel laws turn Britain into an intellectual island. Just a few bricks have been laid so far - best to change attitude before the builders turn up in force.