back to article PM writes ISPs' web filter ads for them - and it must say 'default on'

Britain's four biggest telcos are under pressure from the Prime Minister to describe their forthcoming network-level internet filters as "default on" by 22 July, The Register understands. A well-placed industry source told us today that Tory leader David Cameron will make an announcement about the web content controls next …

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Childcatcher

No sex please, we're British.

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Joke

AC Noel

Right, you usually replace those scenes with playmobil wasn't it? ;-)

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Re: No sex please, we're British.

blocking lega> sites that contain porn, violence and other material that parents might deem to be inappropriate for their kids.

Err no, not actually, they have no interest in filtering out what "Parents feel is inappropriate for their kids"

What they are only interested in is censoring what they feel is appropriate for my kids.

Their views and mine are frequently not the same.

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Thumb Up

Re: No sex please, we're British.

Exactly!

What I find inappropriate is not what others would, and what others find inappropriate I find acceptable...

But I am in favour of filters on the router, but NOT at ISP level,

unless the adults in the house can control which computer can do what, then there is no control..

Anyway, by the time my kids are interested in sex, I expect them to be able to bypass any filter I put in place...

But if you trust your kids, and teach them right from wrong, unfettered internet access is no more risk than letting them go to town with friends or to the local library (if they still exist)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: No sex please, we're British.

You really think it's only about filtering content not suitable for kids? The parents and single adults are next. In other words, this filtering has abuse written all over it. Just a question of time. (me waves to GCHQ and NSA)

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Trollface

Re: the local library

We still have them in the US. But, then, ours is a backward and uncivilized land.

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Anonymous Coward

Usually I'm suspicious of almost all government control. But, horror of horrors, I can actually see this working. Just as crime is related to opportunity, so, ahem, children viewing porn is related to opportunity. The reality is *there will be fewer children seeing at porn* and that's going to be a good thing.

I have to be honest and relate a story here about my own child. When she was about eight years old loads of kids had come round with their parents for a house party. All the kids went upstairs and, as kids left to their own devices are prone to do, they were starting to get overexcited. We could hear them all evening. But then at about 8pm, after a flurry if giggling and conspiratorial voices, suddenly there was complete silence. "What's going on?" I thought, "this is unnatural." I sneaked upstairs and found them all sitting around the computer. They (I won't name names) had been using the web browser and typed www.wee.com and www.poo.com into the browser. Innocence shattered (not sure what's at those addresses now, don't want to know).

A couple of points here. First my daughter had my partners password. I was always quite careful to ensure different accounts were used, but my partner saw that as me just being anal. Second she had her own account on her own laptop that was pretty much unlimited anyway. I had found the site blocking software at the time to be a pain in the arse, so switched it off and relied on having a good talk with her about the Internet and the fact that generally she was and remains a sensible girl. But if I'm honest, I wonder if that was good enough, and wonder if I could be arsed enough and if my "can't be arsed-ness" was post justified a bit too much by arguments and concerns over freedom from censorship etc. because the reality is, now my daughter is grown up (yes she's well edjusted etc) I do think it would have been better if the bad stuff was less available for her and all her friends, especially between the crucial ages 8 to 14 (well i know because i had logging switched on at the router), but who knows what she saw, at friends houses.

Clearly this was not going to be enough to prevent all encounters. I'm sure these new measures won't prevent all encounters anyway, but they surely will reduce how much children see. I'm suspicious of most things state controlled, but a can't say I can bring myself to get in a lather about this being the thin end of the wedge, re censorship either. Porn is a pretty distinct category, and there is always the option for the the in-charge member of the household to disable it. This is a storm in a tea-cup. Indeed the biggest problem I see is that the person who likes to think (he) is in charge, may not be. So those who will feel this measure strongest, will be the men who's wives says "this is a good ideas isn't it dear, let's leave the filter on."

"Absolutely" comes the reply from the man shaking his head.

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Anonymous Coward

> So those who will feel this measure strongest, will be the men who's wives says "this is a good ideas isn't it dear, let's leave the filter on."

or the women who don't want to own up to their husband that they sometimes surf porn while he's out during the day. Remember the days when corner shops used to do video rentals. Amazing how many videos from the plain cardboard box behind the counter used to be rented after dropping the kids at school and be returned just before pick up time.

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Gimp

Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

The question is who are you trying to protect?

In a free society of adults it should be opt in not opt out.

I'll remain a great deal more concerned about what nosy b**tard is looking at my metadata than if someone is looking at pron on my line.

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Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

Britons, surely?

That aside I agree with your argument, opt in is the only sensible route.

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Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

I completely agree.

We're a nation of adults who can opt in to things if we want. Freedom should be the default.

Freedom is no longer the default, and that is not just a slippery slope, it's a lube-greased flume.

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Big Brother

Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

And then no doubt next it will be blocking anything that could be branded as "terrorism" or supporting suchlike, with the usual nebulous and flexible definition of exactly what and who the govt of the time doesn't like (or is told not to like) that should be included.

It's almost a shame we don't have something more up to date than the Magna Carta as a parallel to the American Declaration of Indepdendence to use as a cornerstone and rallying point towards freedoms of speech and the like.

Having said that if it's done by screwing around with DNS, presumably underground (or not so underground, or possibly just overseas) alternate DNS servers may spring up offering a work-around for those who may want it, for legitimate reasons or otherwise.

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Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

"The question is who are you trying to protect?"

Obviously, they are trying to protect themselves. Once filtering becomes ubiquitous it will make it much easier to control "leaks", whistleblowers and just journalists with pictures of politicians in compromising positions, or so they think, anyway...

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Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

a lube-greased flume

Exactly the stuff that I'm going to need to register for now.

Except that I'm not going to. Fuck them. I'm sticking all my internet traffic through a fat pipe to a dodgy ISP in Amsterdam.

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't seem to be helping....

"It's almost a shame we don't have something more up to date than the Magna Carta as a parallel to the American Declaration of Indepdendence to use as a cornerstone and rallying point towards freedoms of speech and the like."

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be helping US much....

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Headmaster

"The leaked letter also contained some other interesting tidbits,"

In the UK, the word is, appropriately, "titbits".

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Not any more - unless you want the reg on the banned list

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Headmaster

No, the word is spelt "tidbits" but is pronounced "titbits". Ah, English.

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Facepalm

Anti-nanny?

Strikes me as odd that the champion of market-driven solutions and vehement critics of the nanny state are supporting this.

If there's such a market for a "clean" ISP, logic would dictate that the market would have created one by now.

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Lawsuits

I think this will be opening the ISPs to a large number of lawsuits:

"Argh! My kiddies have seen porn on your filtered Internet! Your advert said it would be on by default!!"

"But we only wrote that because the government told us to, and we told them it wouldn't work anyway..."

"I don't care! You said it would be safe, and it isn't!!!"

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Re: Real Ale is Best

"I don't care! You said it would be safe, and it isn't!!!"

Right, better a warning of possible danger than a false claim to safety.

Also agree with your views on beer.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Anti-nanny?

>If there's such a market for a "clean" ISP, logic would dictate that the market would have created one by now

There is .... but very few UK domestic users are likely to pay the premium for the (human) work involved in maintaining and managing whitelists.

The government should centralise filtering, blame and effort for child protection - it's already paying out millions in tax payer cash each year for exactly this kind of service from the educational ISPs.

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Rol
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"Mum, who's this woman staring out of the computer screen"

"Oh, that's Big Nanny"

"Why?"

"Well marketing didn't think Big Brother would be acceptable"

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If the filtering is based in DNS lookups how will it work if you just change your DNS server to use alternatively DNS such as Google DNS server or open DNS, what about existing customers are they suddenly going to all get filtered by default or is for new customers only?

I worked out in schools for a few years and the kids know about using proxys to access facebook etc when its blocked on the schools internet so you constantly playing wack a mole to block the proxy sites as soon as they are found. so if it easy to get around with just changing the DNS or using proxys then thats something that kids will easily work out how to do and once one kid does it it will soon get spread around all the other kids in no time. Then the parents will be blaming the ISPs that the kids can get around the filtering rather than learning to actually supervise their kids.

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Facepalm

Ssssshhh!

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Yup, and unlike schools where you can usually track what is going on, at home, parents will not know to do that...

This is a waste of time & money!

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Boffin

It's not DNS lookups (primarily for that reason), it'll be similar to Cleanfeed - essentially a selective proxy based on IP blacklists that then kicks in with some DPI shenanigans. Same way TPB was blocked.

But yeah, proxies will work just fine.

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Bah, but I don't want to have to watch my porn through a proxy. Half of the proxies are either stupidly slow, or they charge extra to stream video.

Any other easy way to get past the idiocy once implemented?

And I agree with the masses on this, every other service is opt in, legally you have to opt in to getting spam, you have to opt in to giving away your organs. So why do you have to opt out of filtering?

And lets face it, it's targetting the masses, when it's only aimed at a certain market. "Stop your children seeing smut" 23.6 million households in the uk. And only 12 million families with or without children (taken from 2011) so they're blocking content for the majority when it's targetting the minority.

If anyone finds a "Don't autoban our porn" petition let me know about it.

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Anonymous Coward

@mark I 2 : they intercept and proxy responses. I've been seeing some examples of this on Sky recently, none of which persist more than a couple of days (Sky testing?) but I know for sure on one domain Sky were proxying a response which said the zone did not exist. It did & does, had nothing to do with IWF or any court order as BT Broadband worked fine.

tl;dr its not rocket science....

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Even on so called filtered mobile internet you can use opera mini or I suppose opera normal with turbo set up like mini or ucweb. Slightly less featured but it works.

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Holmes

"Any other easy way to get past the idiocy once implemented?"

Yes, you phone your ISP and say loudly and proudly "I'm a grown-up - switch my Internet back on to include porn and kindly eff off out of my browsing habits"

Or switch to a provider that just won't implement it. AAISP springs to mind.

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"nobbles DNS lookups"

So... is it actually going to detect these and discard them, or is it just going to return NXDOMAIN when someone looks up something naughty on the BSkyB DNS server?

Because that latter is circumvented with a quick change of DNS setting to 8.8.8.8.

I also forsee a lot of teenagers getting this "tor" business figured out pretty quickly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"

Step #1: Download Tor

Step #2: Extract to folder

Step #3: Run tor exe

Step #4: Search for [*removed by No 10*]

Step #5: GG

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Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"

This.

It's like putting a chocolate padlock on a two foot high fence. to stop the kids getting out of the garden.

Getting past it is such an offensively simple task that it's just not worth wasting time on - might as well just leave it open and stop inconveniencing people.

If they don't want people getting out of their garden, parents (or ISPs selling a soltution) will have to do it properly - install a five foot high fence with steel padlocks (or locked down routers, dropping any DNS requests that aren't their own, etc) for those who *want* it.

Anything else is an utter waste of time.

Steven R

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

Step #1: Log in to router

Step #2: Change router DNS servers from default DHCP assigned ones

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Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

You have to remember that this is stuff drawn up by politicians for application to adults. Hence whilst it may bamboozle Joe and Jane Public, their kids will of course just side-step it as kids always do in new and imaginative ways.

It sounds more like the internet equivalent of child-proof medicine bottle lids. You know, the ones that only kids are dexterous enough to open...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

Can't do that with the Sky Routers as they are locked down unfortunately

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Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

Not quite. All the ISP has to do is intercept and re-route all port 53 traffic, then regardless of which DNS IP you *think* you're talking to, you're not.

I do this at home, to ensure anything on my LAN *cannot* bypass my OpenDNS settings.

If you want to get around it, go investigate "DNSCrypt", as that encrypts your DNS and allows you to point to an upstream server which isn't on port 53.....

(and moving on beyond DNS resolution, any IP which is blacklisted will still be blacklisted, so regardless of how you lookup/get the IP resolved, a filtered site is still a filtered site. Unless you start using a VPN...)

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Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

>> All the ISP has to do is intercept and re-route all port 53 traffic, then regardless of which DNS IP you *think* you're talking to, you're not.

Well, DNSSec works around this, and is already usable with Google's public DNS, so you should be able to tell if you're getting doctored results.

>> I do this at home, to ensure anything on my LAN *cannot* bypass my OpenDNS settings.

Unless they have a tor client, which to be fair is something that mimics VPN, and gets around any/all IP blacklists etc. I only really mentioned DNS in particular because if that's all that Sky are messing with then that's pretty damn easy to work around.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"

"Step #1: Download Tor"

Your attempt to download this EEEEEVIIIIILLL TERRRORRRRRIST<FNORD> program has been blocked. Your access to BigBrotherNet has been terminated. Please gather up your things and report to your front door for apprehension and reeducation.

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MI5 howls of outrage

At this point, I can almost hear the howls of outrage from MI5. Effectively, what the Government are doing is teaching the entire intelligent population of the country how to communicate with the outside world in ways which are impossible to sniff. Doing this throws a gigantic spanner in the works for tricks like metadata sniffing, especially if someone with serious marketing power starts up a combined VPN and email service based in Switzerland.

At that point the spooks might as well give up and go take up chicken farming, since very little metadata are going to be leaked from such a set-up; this also does a neat end-run around any local filtering system. Block it, and big business will scream blue murder. Leave it, and politicians look like complete numpties (not for the first time, either).

Cameron's best option right now is to try to force some sort of ISP-subsidised router-level filtering and leave it at that, retreating gracefully whilst trumpeting loudly about having solved the problem without treading on precious civil liberties. It ain't a perfect solution, indeed doing so is pretty much admitting defeat, but it works better than any other course of action.

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Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"

"Step #4: Search for [*removed by No 10*]"

Of course, a quick Freedom of Information request will deliver the actual list of banned sites, maintained at tax-payers expense for the convenience of teenagers too lazy to search for their own porn.

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@Dr Dan Holdsworth

"Block it, and big business will scream blue murder."

For now. As more and more people start using VPNs to hide their copyright-infringing and porn-surfing activities, they will come under greater scrutiny. We've already seen the start of this with Visa and Mastercard refusing to process payments to some VPN providers.

Ultimately what I can see ending up happening is that you'll eventually need some kind of "business licence" to use a VPN, and if you're detected using one without a licence (e.g. by sniffing your traffic and finding it encrypted to a specific domain all the time) you'll cop a hefty fine.

Of course, getting a VPN licence will cost a small fortune and you'll have to "reasonably prove that you require the use of a VPN in the normal course of business" or some legalese wank like that. This way, "big business" can still make use of VPNs as they need but the proles will be locked out of them and left exposed for Big Brother to spy on.

I predict the Western Nanny States (USA / UK / Aus / NZ / Canada) will introduce something like this within the next 5 years, as a greater proportion of the public cotton on to VPNs. And the endless march of the erosion of human liberties will continue...

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a "collective financial commitment" to fund an "awareness campaign"

We will make you pay for our propaganda

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Anonymous Coward

This is such a bad idea. Not only will it not stop the kids, who generally will be told how to use google dns by all there friends, but it'll make going to blocked sites even more attractive.

Yea, that's how kids work.

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Meh

Not About Kids

This isn't about the children, things like this never are. This is insurance for the politicians: 'See here peasants, my policies have engaged [company x] in protecting [popular thing]. [Politician x] didn't do anything. If you care about [thing] then you will recognize I am the only logical choice to lead us into the future.'

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"The battle between the government and telcos ..."

What's really disturbing about this bollocks is the whole tone of the letter, which implies that the PM seriously believes he just has to express a wish and the ISPs will give it serious attention (to a given timescale, no less).

That means either that the PM is delusional, or the battle between government and telcos has already been lost by the telcos, and they are merely trying to save face by feebly protesting what they know they are going to roll over for at some point.

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Joke

Re: "The battle between the government and telcos ..."

"That means either that the PM is delusional ..."

Well he is an MP after all...

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Pirate

Re: "The battle between the government and telcos ..."

Give him a break - he probably doesn't give a shit about filters and intertube crap - it just that he thought that this prime ministering gig would involve him getting his own way on something, sometime and 5 years in he's getting a bit frustrated and putting his foor down on anything that moves. Maybe George will let him pick a the next three legged dog that they are going to bet everything on.

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