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back to article Cameron hardens stance on UK web filth block

Prime Minister David Cameron has again waded into the debate about protecting kids from pornography online by personally stepping up pressure on ISPs to block smut websites by default. His intervention comes during a torrid time for the Tories, with the party suffering heavy loses in local elections across the UK today. The PM …

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"Sadly for Britain's lawmakers, anyone with an ounce of tech knowledge knows exactly how to evade such an online blockade – a fact seemingly lost on some politicians"

I think they just stick their fingers in their ears and hum loudly whenever anyone reminds them of that.

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It's worse than that Jim

because now the internet is full of people learning how to evade Virgin Media's implemented block of Pirate Bay (using Cleanfeed I have heard)

Previously if you had asked "How can I bypass the cleanfeed block" everyone would know you were a kiddy fiddler - now hundreds of thousands of non-geeks are learning how to avoid IWF blocks.

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Anonymous Coward

Its the usual "Think of the children" brigade.

The same people who's children are high, pissed or pregnant at <16, whom are adamant that we should listen to them because they know best.

Good ole middle england! Engage mouth before brain.

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WTF?

More political crap...

...if I am to be prevented from viewing a website I want it to be because that website has been proven to be illegal in a court of law. NOT because some useless political cretin leans on my ISP to block anything which might be thought to be "naughty" by some flunky at either employed by the ISP or wearing a Mary Whitehouse "for the public good" badge.

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Consistency

Gonna need a common approach and blacklist for all ISPs, otherwise what's the point?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Consistency

When the average 11 year old can find out how to circumvent this in 5 minutes I'd argue there is none.

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Facepalm

Petrol, pasties, granny tax, caravan tax...

Nice to see that the razor-sharp minds of our politicians at work again.

Next week they're going to announce that we will change over to driving on the right. This will be phased in over two years, starting with Large Goods Vehicles.

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Bronze badge

Re: Petrol, pasties, granny tax, caravan tax...

You know those 2012 predictions where people think this year is going to be the end of civilisation? I don't think they're far off actually, it looks like the beginning of the end of being civilised.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Petrol, pasties, granny tax, caravan tax...

We've been on that slope for many a year now.

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Unhappy

Re: Petrol, pasties, granny tax, caravan tax...

The new NHS Act is a big step down from civilisation. I'm stepping up the campaign to persuade the other half that we should move to another country soon.

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Make it opt in only, it's the responsibility of the parents to apply to their ISP and have it switched on for their connection. The parents need to start taking some responsibility for raising their own children instead of dumping them in front of the TV/PC/iPad and expecting the government to supervise them.

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Anonymous Coward

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Obviously the Tories are *that sort*, if David Chameleon is sticking his oar in.

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Anonymous Coward

'Opt-in' = 'opt-out'

"Make it opt in only..."

Unfortunately, the Mary Whitehouse brigade have redefined 'opt-in' to mean 'opt-out'. They say people should have to 'opt-in' to being able to access porn. An Orwellian twist, which really means 'opt-out' of filtering.

The result is that when you call for it to be 'opt-in', they can say, "Yes, that's what we're calling for: an opt-in system where you have to opt-in to having access to porn. We're glad you agree."

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Anonymous Coward

Don't knock Mary Whitehouse

She was a barking old bat, but Britain was very fond of her - both curtain-twitchers and non-curtain-twitchers alike.

Why? Simple - *because she had no power whatsoever*. She was just a noise. What she did do was provoke debate on the subject of obscenity amongst people who (unlike her) were balanced enough to engage in it.

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@Oliver Mayes

One of the most important things we can do in order to get parents to do their job is to remove the expectation of, and the need, for both parents to work, at least fro the first six or seven years. That means essentially paying one parent to stay at home for that time.

Rampant capitalism means rampant children.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Don't knock Mary Whitehouse

Very well said. I personally don't agree (much) with Mary Whitehouse at all, but I am very glad that there was someone like her to challenge opinions in general. As many commentators on the Reg seem to miss: If there is no contrary opinion, there can be no debate.

Mary stood up for her beliefs and wasn't afraid to shout about them, in a not-really-that-mad kind of way. Compare that to any controversial debate on a site like this where it degenerates into abuse and shouting about how things should be, while taking no action in the real world whatsoever.

Also, she was excellent for satire a la spitting image. I also remember one of the Goodies saying that when they found out she liked their program, they went all out to get her to complain about them.

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Re: Don't knock Mary Whitehouse

"As many commentators on the Reg seem to miss: If there is no contrary opinion, there can be no debate."

And as you seem to have missed: If there's no contrary opinion then everyone is in agreement and there's no need for a debate. Having politicians and media commentators "debate" an issue is not a good in and of itself.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Oliver Mayes

If that means Claire Perry staying at home and looking after her kids instead of slurping on public funds at Westminster then I'm all for it.

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Vic
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Re: Don't knock Mary Whitehouse

> Britain was very fond of her

I wasn't. She was an interfering old witch.

My ex used to work for her son. I met him a few times, and I'm still proud of my self-control that I didn't leave him swallowing teeth.

Vic.

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Vic
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Re: @Oliver Mayes

> to remove the expectation of, and the need, for both parents to work

You're going to need much cheaper housing for that.

That's going to make a lot of people very unhappy...

Vic.

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Another intrusion

This is being used to force ISP's to put the infrastructure for content monitoring in place, I don't have any restrictions on my internet and don't want any.

I wish MP's who have no idea about how monitoring and filtering software works would stop telling people that we wont be able to view whats in 'your data', if you cant see whats in it you cant block it unless you rely on IP and address blocking which will by no means be a realistic method of blocking porn.

Its like the Royal Mail filtering your post without opening it???? Its not possible.

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If you fancy a laugh have aread of Claire Perry MP's site

Then send her a kind letter:

Good Morning,

I felt it necessary to email my views regarding the current proposals about the Online Safety Bill and seeing as you seem to be championing it I though I would vent my concerns at yourself.

After reading the details of the Bill (HL Bill 137) and researching the views of other MP's, ISP's and like myself other ICT related workers I find it amazing at the complete lack of knowledge and sense the government and MP's are showing.

1. Duty to provide a service that excludes pornographic images

My ISP has one duty and that it too provide me with an Internet Connection for my use and for use by persons I choose which may included my children, I expect that feed to be unmonitored, unrestricted and private. I don't expect my ISP to breach my privacy by intercepting every request I make and then checking the contents are 'safe' according to the standards laid out by the government. Please don't insult my intelligence or tech knowledge by telling me that wont happen because it must for the filtering to work other wise it would be like royal mail filtering your post without actually opening the letter which would be impossible.

(3) The conditions are—

(a) 10the subscriber opts-in to subscribe to a service that includes

pornographic images;

(b) the subscriber is aged 18 or over; and

(c) the provider of the service has an age verification policy which has been

used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over.

Whilst I appreciate this is required on a Mobile Device as children could be the end user, you have to be over 18 to be the bill payer of a Land line as such that is my confirmation I wish to receive this service.

2. Duty to provide a means of filtering online content

Virtually all devices come with Contenting Filtering, Firewalls and Time Restrictions built in, failing that there are many systems available to consumers both free and paid.

3. Duty to provide information about online safety

ISP's already provide this information as do many public bodies, charities and business.

A final word....

I'm extremely concerned by this bill and I intend on campaigning against it along with many of my colleagues in the IT sector, these measures will do nothing to restrict children's access to questionable material not to mention the doors it leaves open for future blocking of websites, this bill alongside the recent blocking of other sites by a judge without the site owners being allowed to represent themselves in court is setting a dangerous precedent which could see many legitimate sites being blocked under false pretense.

This 'debate' and the 'consultations' are a waste of time, the emphasis needs to be on parents monitoring their children rather than the government and ISP's. I also seriously question the credentials of the people used as 'expert witnesses' during the consultation on this bill:

Deidre Sanders, “Agony Aunt” - Complete hypocrit who makes her money by working for a company that thinks it right to have a topless woman on the 3rd page and its paper on the bottom shelf.

Justine Roberts, Founder of Mumsnet - Raised a group of women who now think they have a complete knowledge of technology and internet because they are on 'a forum' which rather shockingly is one of the worst places for bullying online.

'Mumsnet reported that a survey of their site users found that 84 per cent were concerned that easy access to internet porn' if they werent so busy on Mumsnet they could probably monitor the kids internet habits instead.

I could carry on but I doubt you will actually get this far, so I'll wrap it up.....

1. My ISP should only provide my a transmission channel without any interception or monitoring.

2. I should govern what content is allowed over it whether for myself or my children.

3. The government should get back to running the country not parenting.

4. If you are set on Opt-Out mechanism can you please campaign for an Opt-Out of junk mail from Royal Mail, Op-Out of receiving rubbish from my Local MP and an Opt-Out of aggressive phone calls urging me to vote every election and offering me a lift to the polling station as I currently wouldn't vote for any party

I look forward to your response.

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FAIL

Here Here!

I've said it before; you have to be 18+ to have signed the contract for your Broadband, the ISP and the Govt. should at that point assume you are a responsible, consenting adult.

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Facepalm

Re: Another intrusion

See that's the strange thing. The Tories are generally content to let "the market" and private enterprise sort this stuff out. If there were such a demand for a "clean" Internet, an ISP offering such a service would have formed by now and would be raking it in. Probably called Think Of The Children ISP. Presumably there isn't that much of a demand, so would kindly request that they jog on and sort out the economy instead of inventing half-ass proposals in response to parents that can't be arsed to parent.

I do love our governments approach of repeatedly asking the question until they get the right answer. Or just ramming it through regardless.

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Re: If you fancy a laugh have aread of Claire Perry MP's site

I can't agree enough!

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Re: Another intrusion

I worked as network architect for such a company, the company pulled out before launch as their research showed there was no profitable market.

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Re: If you fancy a laugh have aread of Claire Perry MP's site

Feel free to copy, paste, edit and forward that email to your local MP or Claire Perry herself. So far i've sent a number of emails and letters, they all resulted in a pretty standard we'll have to wait and see as no formal proposal has been worded for either this bill or the real time monitoring

They truly are setting us up for a full blown V for Vendetta style government in multiple ways at the same time, and the masses are buying into it whether they think its because porn should be blocked, piracy should be stopped or we should read everyone's email on the hope of catching a terrorists. Rather than attack them one by one so they get the full attention of the media instead they are drip feeding details about each at the same time probably hoping one of them will slip through unopposed by the public.

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IT Angle

A Thought

I wonder if Claire Perry (MP) has visited these hallowed pages, and possibly even posted. From what I understand of her proposal, and the justifications therefore, she sounds a lot like ClaireCares AKA Clare (Web Specialist) on these forums.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: If you fancy a laugh have aread of Claire Perry MP's site

@SJRulez - A generally very good email, I would also suggest posting it, a physical letter gets much more notice of an MP than an email. This is basically because of the sheer volume of emails that most MPs get. I would also suggest CCing the letter to your constituency MP.

With regard to the letter itself: When writing to an MP, never say anything like "I could carry on, but I doubt you'll get this far", that will gain an automatic binning of your letter. You make a couple of seemingly innocuous comments about "debate" and "consultations" using inverted commas, don't do that, it will turn the reader off you, because it says you've already made your mind up about what they will achieve. You say that Diedre is a "complete hyporcite", instead say that she "hypocritically says". Also, don't slag off the parenting skills of a (wrongly IMO) influential group of voters (mumsnet) instead question the unintended consequences of their actions. I would also loose 4 because you can do those things already and rephrase 3 to say that the government's duty it to run the country, not to interfere in families parenting decisions.

I don't criticise the content of your letter, at all, just that I have a few friends who work for MPs/political parties and they say the things that I have mentioned will be what makes your communication stand out.

Best of luck...

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Re: If you fancy a laugh have aread of Claire Perry MP's site

This is what I wrote to her a few days ago - much less beligerent since I assumed she would be getting many adversarial e-mails already. I tried to make it sound like I was sort of on her side (at least at first)

Dear Mrs Perry,

Whilst I applaud your desire to protect children from harm on the internet I believe your opt-in filter will actually have the opposite effect. I agree that pornography may have the potential to psychologically damage children and that they should be protected from such images. However there are other dangers on the internet which have already resulted in children suffering real physical harm, including rape, murder and suicide.

If your campaign to implement an opt-in filter for pornography succeeds parents could feel that it is OK to allow their children access to the internet unsupervised. Unfortunately this is unlikely to ever be safe.

The internet is not like television in any way. It is built on an entirely different paradigm. Just because we can now stream mainstream media content over the internet you shouldn't assume it is in anyway similar because that ability is not limited to oligarchs and large corporations.

I could set up a website url which anyone could access showing the live stream from my webcam in just a few minutes for example. In addition that website url (and even the underlying IP address) could be changed to a new one within a few seconds if someone decided to try & block the content.

Even then, any blocking put in place is trivial to circumvent in a number of ways; proxy servers, https protocols and virtual private networks for example. All of these technologies are vital to e-commerce and international business and so can not really be regulated against without severely impacting the economy and usefulness of the internet as a whole.

In addition the internet is much more than the web (http /https protocols) there are peer to peer networks, ad-hoc networks, ftp, smtp, ssh, and hundreds of other protocols for communication.

If I can give you an example - Virgin Media have already implemented the recent court order to block The Pirate Bay. Websites, forums and chat rooms are already full of trivial 2 minute work-arounds that enable virgin media customers to access the site instantly. This is despite Virgin Media using BT's Cleanfeed system which is used by the IWF to block child pornography. I think you can see this has another detrimental effect, which is that now hundreds of thousands of people are learning methods to circumvent the Cleanfeed system potentially exposing thousands more to Child Pornography.

The Real Danger

The real danger to children is simply the ability to communicate with billions of strangers from all over the world, not just by text (e-mail,forums,social networks, instant messaging, IRC servers) but also voice over IP and webcams. Allowing a child unsupervised access to the internet is like allowing them to wander through the backstreets of any major city in the world.

In real life we tell our children not to talk to strangers, but by allowing unsupervised access to the internet parents are encouraging their children to do just the opposite. How many reports are there of teenagers (and in fact adults) being harmed by going to meet strangers online? Or being blackmailed to perform on webcams? Or being groomed by paedophiles in chat rooms? These are not the result of being able to access pornography but simply the same social manipulation that humans have used on each other since we developed language.

The only real way to keep children safe on-line is to control their access to the internet as a whole. Obviously there is no effective means of doing this, however by introducing legislation which bans children under a certain age group from using the internet unsupervised you would at least be sending the right message which is that the internet is an adult environment not suited to unsupervised children in an way.

If I can summarise my points

Opt-in pornography filter

huge cost to ISPs - and eventually consumers

ineffective and trivial to circumvent

gives parents a false sense of security

while learning to circumvent this filter, they also learn to circumvent child pornography blocks

children pass information in other ways, it only takes one to bypass the filter & then everyone can.

Law banning under 18's from unsupervised access to the internet

probably impossible to enforce.

sends a message that the internet is not safe for children.

I find it almost impossible to believe that no experts haven't already pointed out these issues to you, but I haven't seen, heard or read this points discussed in any media coverage and would like to know how you intend to deal with the social manipulation aspects of freely allowing your child to communicate with billions of stranger without supervision?

Your faithfully, etc...

Although my blog is less understanding of her viewpoint...

http://www.janimania.com/2012/05/01/internet-censorship-porn/

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Here here, right honorable person

Thanks for the support and i must admit your letter is far more elegant. As for the AC's comments above, thanks for the advice but if u feel this is a passion you may follow please feel free to amend the letter and forward it too persons you feel may be able to make a difference!

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An MP trying to solve a soft, easy, non-problem.

Don't they have more important things to do?

Kids that might possibly at some point in the future be exposed to some kind of pornography isn't exactly a priority at the moment. Nor can I see a future where it ever will be a priority.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: An MP trying to solve a soft, easy, non-problem.

Lets not forget that there will be a whole other committee to decide what 'pornography' means,

Keep in mind whats on display in any newsagent when there's a gust of wind, and it makes this waily-waily stuff all the more cretinous.

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Even the vast majority of Daily Mail users seem to be opposed to the opt-in filter, but then if you want to protect children blocking the mail would be a fucking good place to start.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Megaphone

Are you an echo?

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Anonymous Coward

Perv list.

So elt me get this straight they want each ISP to create a "Perv List" of "opt ins"?

So what happens when said opt in person is a doctor or teacher, MP, someone who works with vulnerable people, etc. Then the information on the list gets out? I think they could kiss their jobs goodbye in the moral outrage...

Seriously what is wrong with haveing a p0rn opt out? If you want to block it on your connection CHOOSE to block it!

Anon because, well Big Brother is watching.

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Re: Perv list.

I am opted "in" on my mobile connection.

Because the cycling forum I frequent is blocked otherwise...

It's really rather sad that any politician thinks that this filtering is anything like a good idea. I'm not keen on the overt sexualisation of kids which is being promoted through all the media.

Nor the rampant increase in sexual imagery being shown over all media. The internet isn't different from other media - yet I don't see restrictions on TV or print media.

There is no justification for this censorship - there is justification for education, particularly of parents. This could fairly easily be done by schools/leas - who necessarily have contact with children's guardians.

When my kids start to be able to use the computers on their own then I'll implement some filtering at home, but more than that we'll supervise them, talk to them.... No technical filter is ever perfect.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Perv list.

Exactley!

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What about page3 ?

i assume the super soar away Sun would be banned by default

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Re: What about page3 ?

You got to be joking, the Sun's agony aunt is one of the 'expert witnesses' used by the panel. She's all for web blocking but doesn't have issues with detailing raunchy stories or page 3 nudes, I would say that ranks her somewhere in the top hypocrites list for this year!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 'expert witnesses' used by the panel.

Ooohhh - dirrrty!

I'm talking about yet one more linkage between Tories and Murdoch, of course

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Anonymous Coward

web makes money for UK PLC

Therefore do everything you can to gut it and disadvantage UK PLC

Reference: Cookie Laws, ACTA etc etc etc

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The sad thing is, it'll happen.

I base that on the fact that TPB is now blocked.

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"with the party suffering heavy loses in local elections"

It's the economy, stupid. Not Internet censorship or gay marriage.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "with the party suffering heavy loses in local elections"

Oddly, they are pro-pron censorship and pro-gay marriage. This is an odd situation for a government, because usually a party is either pro one and anti the other.

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Anonymous Coward

Heh we already to get our VPN tunnels to foreign places to do all our interneting then?

I already have a provider in mind myself

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its trivially easy

When I set up a virtual host I had a choice on which country I wanted it sited in. I could proxy anything ..if I cared to.

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FAIL

complex problem

For it to be a complex problem it needs to be a problem in the first place and frankly it isn't. To turn "their" usual argument against them - it didn't do me any harm. In fact I'd go as far as saying that having unfiltered access to porn and access to communicate with others who share common interests actually made me a much more confident and productive individual.

Also - quite hilarious how those that are most adamant about blocking sick Internet filth are usually the same ones who want to have teachers commit acts of sado-masochism (caning) on their kids. Crazy world ain't it.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear politicians

If you don't leave my internet alone, I won't vote for you.

Love - Fats

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