@ Bad Fish
"They are in the business of censorship, not the business of protecting children from abuse. They must be secretly worried that their blocklist is getting smaller: if it gets to zero, there's no reason for them to keep their jobs."
This is the nub of the problem for all in the child protection racket. How to keep business brisk in the face of overwhelming evidence that - certainly - there is no significant 'commercial' CP industry as has often been claimed by these organisations in the past. Perhaps there are a few very foolhardy sites in existence actually trying to sell this stuff, but CEOP say their focus is now very much on P2P networks and the FREE exchange of this material. This makes for a far more believable scenario, whilst changing the landscape significantly.
This would suggest that most available material is 'historic' or, more worryingly, the product of private individuals abusing kids and posting up their material for kicks. If CEOP are really in the 'child protection' business (as they claim) their focus should be on investigating and prosecuting those responsible, rather than their historical role as the nation's number one 'six o-clock knocker', hell-bent on kicking down the doors of anyone who even glimpses this stuff (although, in fairness to them, they claim they only ever pass on details to individual police forces who then act on such information).
We know that from the IWF's own reporting that much less less than 1% of all online CP (free or commercial) is actually hosted in the UK. If the problem is therefore that the overwhelming majority of this material is carried via filesharing sites based in N America or Europe, etc, I see no easy way for the IWF (or anyone else for that matter) to block it. Surely they'd have to block quite legitimate filesharing sites en masse, on the off chance they are also denying access to dodgy files? I doubt many legitimate filesharers would welcome the sudden denial of service to these sites because the IWF or CEOP can't be sure who's downloading what. I should add that Deep Packet Inspection is expected to become a tool in CEOP's forensic arsenal (if it isn't already), a method that might perhaps circumvent the need to 'blanket ban' filesharing sites - if the right packets are being inspected.
What makes this so much more difficult to get a handle on is the smoke and mirrors style of reporting from the likes of both IWF and CEOP. They just don't seem to be able to make their respective cases with any measure of clarity. Both organisations speak in broad generalisations, often using carefully chosen words deliberately left open to wild interpretation. Added to this is the impossibility of anyone in the responsible media actually researching their claims to any reasonable degree without a very real fear of prosecution.
As the spectre of an online 'CP industry' recedes from plausibility, organisations like these must seek to not only justify their claims, but to back them up with understandable, credible evidence. UK taxpayers annually fork out for both organisations to some large degree (although both also receive significant financial support from industry) - is it not, therefore, unreasonable to expect a better return for our money than a few intermittent - and largely cryptic, speculative and self-congratulatory - statements, none of which can be independently verified?
Since Operation Ore we have endured these seasonal sideshows from the likes of CEOP in particular (not unsurprisingly, really; one look at their website reveals a growing fondness for running any number of specialist (and doubtless lucrative) conferences, courses, workshops and initiatives tailored for all those working within the child protection industry, many of whom are hopelessly and quite incestuously intertwined) and every year these utterances seem to become more and more about keeping a fear of almost mythical proportions foremost in the industry's and wider media's mind, rather than facing up to the rather dreary and unexciting realities of the situation.
If the threats of online CP become still less significant in the next few years (and I'll wager that without a doubt they will) do any of us imagine that any of these self-interested, self-promoting and disproportionately powerful organisations will 'pack up and go home' as suggested? Or do we suspect that their focus will, instead, shift in a changing market and they might perhaps seek to redefine their 'remits' to include (and criminalise) whole new tranches of hitherto quite legal material..? My money is on the latter. Self-preservation FTW.