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back to article ISPs torch UK.gov's smut-blocking master plan

Telcos have clobbered an independent Parliamentary inquiry into online child safety by saying that its recommendations are unworkable. Prime Minister David Cameron indicated in the House of Commons yesterday that he welcomed the plans, but the broadband industry's lobby group, the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) …

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Stupid idea

"While parents should be responsible for their children's online safety, in practice people find it difficult to put content filters on the plethora of internet-enabled devices in their homes, plus families lack the right information and education on internet safety."

So, there's a lack of information and education on it? Surely the answer is better education and information then?

Also, they say that schools have filtering. Yup, that they do, but it is also very expensive. A commercial solution which can handle a 100Mbit connection for a school like ours costs about £4k + support. That deals with about 500 connections at once. Scale that up for a huge ISP, and you soon have huge costs involved. Who is going to pay for it?

In my home, I have no need for filtering, so why should my bill end up going up to cover this cost?

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Re: Stupid idea

Better education and information might be the way forward if 'think of the children' was actually the real reason for this, which I'm pretty f***ing sure it isn't.

Think about it, the net snooping thing has just resurfaced, as has this net filtering agenda. Last time, IIRC, they were both about terrorism (mostly); this time one of them has reverted to the kiddie angle, but it amounts to the same thing.

What really bothers me is that if you take a conspiracy-nut dose of scepticism to this and view it as an attempt to control the population, it's explained really easily. But there is surely a more sensible answer, since that's just paranoia. Isn't it?

Hello?

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FAIL

Delicous irony

The delicious irony, of the past decades of political snobbery towards any form of technical or scientific learning, is that the current crop of politicians, and their bondsmen civil servants, just simply do not "get" the internet. I suspect some of them think it's just a bigger, better version of the old dial up bulletin boards, from the 80s.

If I were a politician, to be honest, I really wouldn't worry about the dangers of the internet. Like modern day TV and music, there is so much shite out there, you get tired of looking ....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid idea

@Dan10: I'm sure the snoops are backing Perry & Co to the hilt, though they probably won't admit it. But the other motivation is a sort of psychological thing that I can only describe as control-freakery. MPs are pretty powerless on any real issue these days, most policy is sewn up by technocrats, so stuff like this is manna to them - looks like they are "doing something for real people". Never mind the job losses, wage cuts, pension fiascos, at least we're saving the kiddies.

And there is a species of generally middle aged, middle class political woman who gets her jollies telling men what to do. I suppose one could consider them as dominatrixes who don't get their submissives' consent. Dangerous perverts really...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid idea

Exactly, we need to vote this government out ASAP, there stream of money wasting crazy big brother nazi chinese ideas are poisoning us all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stupid idea

I believe the phrase you are looking for is 'glorified social worker' in the first, paragraph, the second paragraph does bring the phrase 'Tory Woman' to mind but is in fairness something 'Tory man' , 'raving looney lefty' and 'sandal wearing liberal' have in equal measure.

In truth MPs have significant power - as long as they act together to hold the executive to account (that's the day job guys) and don't want a shadow or ministerial post or a seat in the upper house nor to face a sudden boundary shift ...

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Vic
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Re: Stupid idea

> we need to vote this government out ASAP

The last lot were at least as bad.

The next lot will probably be worse.

What we need is a way to upset the comfort level of certain career politicians. They need to understand that abject stupidity in office has personal repercussions.

Of course, the precursor to that is creating an environment where abject stupidity in office actually does have personal repercussions.

Vic.

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Anonymous Coward

The majority don't switch it on when available

Dildo Harding, if only one in three turn your filter on, that means the vast majority don't.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The majority don't switch it on when available

Indeed, it's likely that a vast majority want adult content... don't have kids, much like the folk in my office, most don't have children those that do implement their own solutions (be it technical or not) and one or two shrug and go "well if they don't get the material at mine, they'll get it somewhere else" much like as we all did with video nasties...

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Anonymous Coward

Ah, notice tacit reversal of meaning.

Just like "opt-in" and "opt-out" are reversed from the usual meaning in the proposed filtering law, "turn-on" means "turn-off". So that's two thirds that didn't bother with the hassle of proving (again!) that they were old enough by handing over a credit card number or something. "Success" redefined for the morality bunch's convenience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The majority don't switch it on when available

And who said children seeing the world for what it is is such a bad thing !! Vote this government out, simple.

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The same network level filtering operating in schools which every school kid knows how to subvert so they can continue to post rubbish on facebook and other blocked sites as if the block didn't exist. The only workable solution that will 100 prevent kids seeing stuff their parents are not happy with is the parents sitting down with their kids when they use the internet instead of just using the internet as a baby sitter and leaving them to do what they want.

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Go

Common Sense Prevails

If parents don't want their kids viewing porn on the internet, then it should be up to the parents to look after their kids.

It's not my fault that Claire Perry can't figure out how to turn her kids PC off or configure her router or filtering software.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Common Sense Prevails

Yep indeed, never mind there are something like 40+ murders a hour coming in via TV channels, let's lose our fucking minds over a little bit of filth! If my kids accidentally got to see something unsuitable I'd hope it was a bit of nudity and people having fun as opposed to someone shouting "melon-farmer" at some poor sod and blasting his brains up the nearest wall with a handgun!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Common Sense Prevails

I guess it's easier explaining to your kids why that lady is playing with that man than it is to have to explain why that man is beating that other man into a bloody pulp.

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Flame

They're not going far enough

There's the possibility that I might stumble across adult entertainment on my TV (11pm on Freeview channel 97, in case you wanted to make sure don't come across it)

I was watching Starship Troopers a few weeks ago and was disgusted when the blood and gore was interrupted by a gratuitous nude shower scene. Nothing warned me that this was going to happen.

Also, just the other day, I was reading a techno-thriller, and there was some explicitly described sex scenes - I was livid.

Why aren't these MPs speaking up and demanding that two version of books are published - the clean version & the filthy sex-filled version.

Somebody needs to tell the committee that they're not going far enough, it's what the public wants (in fact, it's what the public needs)

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Joke

"Nothing warned me that this was going to happen."

I beg to differ. More than adequate warning for the gratuitous nudity in Starship Troopers was provided in the opening credits, where it said "Directed by Paul Verhoeven".

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Childcatcher

"It bears all the hallmarks of a policy proposal that is trying to fix a problem without understanding the solution"

I'd go further and say the government is trying to fix a problem without even understanding the problem, never mind any solution...

Network level filtering for mobile data connections is right and propper as parents can't otherwise restrict adult content on a childs device, but on a home ISP connection it is entirely inappropriate not just for technical reasons but because it is never going to be an effective solution and will pring with it a whoile host of new problems and issues.

I personally don't se what all the fuss is about - securing every device on a hoime network in one swoop can be easily achieved by using an alternative DNS service such as OpenDNS. Even without a static IP tis can be effective by way of a DNS update client. Of course, ISPs wouls be very reluctant to tout such a solution as it would cut their revenu drastically if users migrated away from their DNS servers en masse; so surely a reasonable solution is for ISPs to implement OpenDNS style user configurable content filtering on their own DNS servers. This could even be done on an opt-out basis without causing too mouch hastle, or alternatively provide alternate DNS server addresses depending on a customers choice at sign-up.

The posibilities and permutaions are many but I'm convinced that this would be the best way to implement additional content controls, provided the responsibility and configurability of it was placed firmly with the bill payer.

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Trollface

Changing DNS servers on routers will not stop anyone changing the dns servers used on the local machine to unfiltered ones or indeed just adding an IP address to the hosts file. Two very simple measures that would immediately break your solution.

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WTF?

Other DNS providers are out there you know? What's to stop my precious child working this out? PC non-admin accounts? Please, I had a laptop recently with Windows 7 Home premium on it, and the first user that was setup (me) was SET AS ADMIN BY DEFAULT!!! IN 2011!!!

If a parent can lock down a device to a single DNS server setup then they are more technical than 95% of parents...

Back to square one?

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Anonymous Coward

Not square one at all.

No solution will block all adult content without a) affecting legitimate content, and b) being bypassable. Whatever solution is thought up there will be away around it (vpn, TOR, etc).

The OpenDNS -like solution is the easiest way to get setup a network to protect 'most' kids (my daughter is 12, and she doesn't know how to reconfigure DNS settings).

Just because it is not 100% perfect doesn't mean you are back to square one - no solution will be 100% perfect and OpenDNS is (in terms of effort/simplicity for parents vs effectiveness) a great solution. Don't forget that the 'kids' we are protecting here can be anything from 3 or 4 years old upwards - most 'kids' won't know how to reconfigure DNS for some years after that (in some cases for ever!) so this solution has merit. The fact that a 13 or 14 year is more techy than their parent (and could bypass this if they knew how) doesn't mean it's not effective for protecting 3, 4, 5,6 ...etc year olds.

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Flame

Re: Not square one at all.

If you are the type of parent who lets 3 and 4 year old kids use the internet without any form of supervision then dns is the least of your concerns.

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Anonymous Coward

luckily

my kids are 6 and 7.

So the solution works for them - unless you think all kids can change dns settings locally.

OpenDns will work for most kids upto about 10,11 etc years old. At which age they can learn how to bypass any solution anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not square one at all.

Lol. I'm not (my kids are older) but 3 and 4 year old kids use computers you know. Some software connects to the internet. Some opens online pages in pretty windows.

Even if you are sat next to them when they use the computer, they could click something that shows an inappropriate image (i.e an inappropriate advert) - you being sat there didn't stop it being shown (and lots of parents wouldn't recognise a dodgy/suspicious link anyway). These parents need something simple and OpenDNS helps (it's not a replacement for supervision, it's an addition - but as I said, supervision alone won't block porn either - as evidence of that, how may adults get porn popups, and porn-related viruses on their machines without knowing what they did wrong? So how would they know what to stop their kids doing?

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Re: luckily

OpenDNS will only work until many use it, then the clever kids will tell the not so clever how to get around it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: luckily

When 6 years olds know how to reconfigure DNS (And can teach other 6 year olds how to do it) I won't be upset - I will be pleased.

Until that time, I agree with the OP that an OpenDNS like system is effective (not totally) for protecting young kids, and should be used (but not relied on at the expense of supervision).

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Anonymous Coward

"Changing DNS servers on routers will not stop anyone changing the dns servers used on the local machine to unfiltered ones or indeed just adding an IP address to the hosts file. Two very simple measures that would immediately break your solution."

If your children are able to understand why these changes are required and are able to do them, then you're not going to stop them getting to the porn that they obviously want using any sort of filtering. ISP level? Use a proxy, or the neighbours unprotected WiFi. Of course you can just go back do how we all did it prior to the internet, grab a copy from your mates. You cant simply stop kids from doing what we've all being doing since, well, mankind began.

A 'clean' DNS would be a very cost effective way to go while not clobbering the rest of us with the 'think of the children' hysteria.

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Anonymous Coward

Network level filtering for mobile data connections is right and propper as parents can't otherwise restrict adult content on a childs device

Other than not giving them one to start with of course. It's interesting how rarely this particular option is brought up, even though the whole need for them seems to be one dreamed up by the industry trying to make money out of the children.

Devices such as smartphones are dangerous for kids and no filter in the world is going to fix that, especially when an unknown percentage of the material is coming from the kids themselves (children being bullied into sexting for example).

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FAIL

Right and proper on a mobile device?

You see, I don't think mobile devices should be "filtered by default" either. I'm an adult, I have a credit agreement and a contract, so by definition I must also be an adult. If I am one of a relatively tiny minority of people who choose to (a) give their kids a phone with a web browser and (b) buy them a contract for it, then I can also pay my mobile operator to "lock down" that connection. The rest of us shouldn't have to pay for the mobile operator to provide this for the numpties who can't parent their kids and think kids need the latest smartphones.

Frankly, we all already pay far more for mobile services than is "right and proper", and so anything that puts that cost up for the vast and overwhelming majority is wrong.

Oh, and by the way... who do you think "asked" the mobile operators to filter by default? Yeah, you got it... the same people now asking for landline ISPs to do the same thing.

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Anonymous Coward

Open DNS - am I missing something?

I use Open DNS and it allows me to see every kind of filth and illegal stuff. Much more than my ISP's DNS in fact.

Why this is good for the kids escapes me.

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Anonymous Coward

> as well as other "inappropriate" material such as websites that promote self-harm and anorexia.

...she said looking over the top of this month's Vogue.

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Yes, but

" ... the system already used by most major UK mobile phone companies, where access to adult content is blocked until an age verification check is conducted ..."

This is because a child can walk into a shop and buy a phone (or just a SIM card) on PAYG, using cash. Only an adult can purchase a domestic internet connection and it should be regarded as that adult's responsibility to control access by any children in the home.

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Protection

What are we protecting these kids from, exactly?

I mean what are the actual, measured, observable, negative consequences for the children (or for wider society)?

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Anonymous Coward

politicians who have no clue

"Very few would argue that the watershed guidelines for TV viewing, the application of film ratings .. represent inappropriate forms of censorship ...". Spoken by someone who lives in a parallel universe where DVD players don't exist and teenagers go to bed before 9pm. Not arguing against ratings etc, just pointing out they don't work unless there is adequate parental supervision of children.

If ISP filtering followed primary school filtering to define what is acceptable for non-adults, then much of the web would vanish. TheRegister vanishes for swearing, as with much social networking. So we would all have to enable our ISP connections for adult levels anyway. These self important MPs haven't the slightest clue.

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Oldest profession

Tory MP Claire Perry, claimed that many kids in the UK were "accessing internet pornography

I remember as a kid (in the days before Internet porn) looking at dirty mags. (Although, compared to what you can get on the 'net today, they were pretty tame)

People in authority, seem to think that not talking about sex, porn, etc. will stop teenagers seeing it or being interested in it. These people seem to have forgotten one major problem. Teenager's bodies are in over drive with horomones. And those hormones make teenagers *very* intent on finding out about sex in whatever way they can.

I remember one MP (or was it a Lord ?) saying that if we don't tell children about masturbation or sex, they won't discover it. RUBBISH!

The state should not waste it's time & money on restrictions & filters that won't work. The state/society should spend it's money encouraging parents to have sensible discussions with their children about sex, porn, etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oldest profession

"..if we don't tell children about masturbation or sex, they won't discover it.."

The irony is that only a complete wanker would make such a statement :-)

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Re: Oldest profession

I don't think anyone thinks blocking porn will make teens not think about sex.

It might, however, remove a damaging and inaccurate description of human sexual relations.

They aren't spending money on things that don't work. They are buying votes of parents who don't know better. It works very well.

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@ P. Lee

"inaccurate description of human sexual relations."

You've clearly never slept with my ex or anybody else who doesn't think sex is just about procreation then!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Oldest profession

"...(Although, compared to what you can get on the 'net today, they were pretty tame)..."

Unless of course you happened to go on a school trip to Denmark. To our astonishment and adolescent delight we discovered street corner vending machines, seemingly ten a penny, that for a very modest sum dispensed serious hardcore pr0n of the kind that made your old man's purloined Penthouse seem a bit page 3 by comparison, and not a dot, star or other crude obstruction in sight. Even the print was decent quality. The hard part wasn't buying them, but making sure the supervising teacher was out of sight when you did.

Thanks to uptight UK law, in schoolboy barter and playground kudos terms, a well packed travel bag from Denmark was better currency than a gold mine at the bottom of the garden.

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Big Brother

But think of the children!

If you don't see this as anything other than what it really is (just another means for them to censor out what they don't want you to see or hear. I.E. more control over the internet) you are a fool. We already have that list of blocked sites on most ISP's that nobody but a privileged few knows is what is on it. Will this filter have a list of sites publicaly availble for us to scrutinize? I highly doubt it.

It's a smokescreen for more government control by any other name.

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Anonymous Coward

Unbalanced

I don't get it, my wife gave birth to our child and gave up a fair amount to carry him around for 9 months, I pay for his food, clothes, activities etc, yet it appears it's the government that is looking after him/bringing him up, can we not dispense with the bullshit and just give him to the government to feed and cloth etc.

Would save me a fortune, free up a room in the house and I can also then take off the website blocking my router is doing and switch off the parental controls that constantly hassle me on the slightly dumber devices (tablets, phones etc). Only downside is I loose my legitimate reason for playing with Lego :(

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Big Brother

Opt-in?

This reminds me of the episode of The Simpsons where Marge is against Itchy and Scratchy, the mums campaign against Itchy and Scratchy and then decide to go onto the Statue of David. If these folks on 'mumsnet' get their own way they'll keep pushing until they have blocked everything that they don't like.

As a parent, I don't want my kids to see bad things, I don't let them go on Facebook yet (my daughters are nearly 12, just turned 10 and nearly 6) and I do give them a bit of freedom of what they access on the net but I do reguarly monitor what they do and I've implemented DansGuardian (okay not all parents have the knowhow on how to do this).

So if they want to do this, why can't they make it opt-in?

I mean, why can't they give customers the option to turn the filter on if they don't want little Johnny to see anything bad via a web control panel or a call to the ISP.

Rob

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Re: Opt-in?

OTOH As Jimmy Wales is now an advisor to David Cameron he can explain how educational this is to kids researching "Human Male" on wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Search&search=human%20male&fulltext=Search&profile=images&redirs=0

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@John Lilburne Re: Opt-in?

That's quite a gallery of knob-heads. Then again, it is Wikipedia.

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Anonymous Coward

Rather l;ike saying people who sell guns...

... should be responsible for the murders that their customers commit!

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Unhappy

Sigh

I wish somebody would think of the parents - children are totally annoying between the interwebs;)

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Pint

You can tell this is utter bollocks when the first so called expert witness is an agony aunt from The Sun.

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/blogs/2012/04/19/dear-deidre-what-the-hell-do-you-know-about-web-censorship/

After all the recent scandals and such I thought my opinion of politicians could not possibly get any lower. How wrong I was.

I really do think someone needs to smack these idiots upside the head and hopefully get them to focus on the real issues like promoting critical thought, science and technology and getting rid of jumped up fuckwittery.

Pint coz otherwise its all too far depressing.

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I can see this seriously back firing if they do implement it, whats the betting that consenting adults will have to jump through hoops if they want access to such material but their teenage kids will find away round it within minutes.

There needs to be more focus on getting parents to actually police what their children are doing on the internet rather than using it as a tool to keep children occupied whilst they do what they want.

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g e
Silver badge
Stop

Why is it anyone's job to protect the children

Other than the parents.

In our house, at least, we accept that as parents it's our responsibility to raise the kids ourselves and teach them right from wrong and smart from stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

TV watershed

They need to extend this to TV too, we need an opt-in for any programmes after 9 PM. My kid has a TV in their room and can turn it on when they go to bed and watch 'bad' things. Last week my kid came down to breakfast looking terrible - they had had a nightmare because they turned the TV on after 9PM and saw....Jeremy Paxman. The trauma must have been unbearable. We parents need the government to do our for us jobs NOW and protect our kids from this level of upset - we need watershed TV opt-in NOW.

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