The UK Internet Filter

January 9th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The New Statesman reports:

There is no porn filter, and blocking Childline is not an accident

The idea of an internet porn filter has always been a political fiction, a conveniently inaccurate sound bite used to conjure images of hardcore fisting and anal rape in the feverishly overactive imaginations of middle Britain. What activists actually called for – and ISPs were forced to provide – is an ‘objectionable content’ filter, and there is a vast, damp and aching chasm between the two.

The language of the mythical ‘porn filter’ is so insidious, so pervasive, that even those of us opposed to it have been sucked into its slippery embrace. And so even when it turns out that O2 are blocking the Childline and Refuge websites, or that BT are blocking gay and lesbian content, we tend to regard them as collateral damage – accidental victims of a well-meaning (if misguided) attempt to protect out children from the evils of cock.

But this was no accident. It is a good lesson of why filtering is best done by individuals.

Working through secretive negotiations with ISPs, the coalition has put in place a set of filters and restrictions as ambitious as anything this side of China, dividing the internet into ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ categories, and cutting people off from huge swathes of it at the stroke of a key.

“As well as pornography, users may automatically be opted in to blocks on “violent material”, “extremist related content”, “anorexia and eating disorder websites” and “suicide related websites”, “alcohol” and “smoking”. But the list doesn’t stop there. It even extends to blocking “web forums” and “esoteric material”, whatever that is. “Web blocking circumvention tools” is also included, of course.”

And the restrictions go further still. Over the weekend, people were appalled to discover that BT filters supported homophobia, with a category blocking, “sites where the main purpose is to provide information on subjects such as respect for a partner, abortion, gay and lesbian lifestyle, contraceptive, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.”

These filters are automatically applied to all ISP accounts, unless you specifically ask to be exempted. It shows the dangers of allowing a filter for one sort of material, and then seeing it gradually get extended elsewhere. I believe you should prosecute those who upload or download illegal material, but you should not force ISPs to filter the Internet.

Tags: ,

Anyone know whose billboard this is?

October 4th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

IMG_2022

 

An interesting billboard on Featherston Street. Personally I think it is the job of parents to restrict their kid’s access to unsuitable websites, not the Government. Plus the huge number of kids who have access on mobile phones means any home based filtering is ineffectual at best.

I note the Australian Liberal Party said they planned to introduce a filtering requirement like the one mooted in the UK. They dropped the policy two days later due to the backlash.

Anyway there is nothing on the billboard that says who is responsible for it There is no legal requirement to do so, but it is unusual to have an anonymous billboard. Anyone know who may be behind it? It isn’t Family First as they always put their name and logo on their publications.

Tags:

UK to start Internet filtering

December 23rd, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Joe Mullin at Arstechnica writes:

Save the children! UK Prime Minister David Cameron wants porn filters to come on, by default, in any British houses that have children in them.

“A silent attack on innocence is underway in our country today, and I am determined that we fight it with all we’ve got,” wrote Cameron in today’s Daily Mail.

The system Cameron promises will be in the works by February, when British ISPs will have to present plans for how they will present the filter options. Every owner of a new computer will be asked when they log in through their Internet service provider if they have children in the house. If they answer yes, it will immediately prompt them to set up filters blocking content, individual sites, or restricting access at particular times of day, according to the Mail.

If those options just get clicked through rapidly, filters that keep out porn and “self-harm” sites will be “on” by default.

The kids will probably be the ones setting up the Internet accounts!

I’m all for parents protecting kids from nasty stuff on the Internet – but it should be parents – not the Government.

It could be worse though:

Cameron’s promise to filter Internet traffic by default replaces an earlier suggestion in which, rather than prompt parents to set up filters, the filters were simply already turned on. “All the evidence suggests that wouldn’t work very well in practice,” said Cameron. He gave the example of one parent who tried to access things like TV stations on demand, but found they were blocked as well. These “blanket filters” will just get turned off, he said.

That automatic block was rejected by Cameron’s ministers earlier this week. Opposition politicians accused the government of “bow[ing] to pressure from the Internet industry, which is opposed to restrictions on the lucrative porn sector,” as reported in the Daily Mail. “The fight MUST go on: Furious charities hit out after ministers refuse to order an automatic block on Internet filth,” read the headline.

But it sounds like it will be a bureaucratic montrosity:

Conservative Member of Parliament Claire Perry will take charge of making sure the system gets implemented. She said the age checks would probably involve using credit card numbers and electoral rolls to make sure kids can’t get around the new system.

It’s so silly. The kids will probably also all have prepaid mobiles probably that will have full Internet access on them.

Tags: