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back to article PHWOAR! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, Prime Minister

The government wants to stop children getting easy access to hard-core pornography: but the interwebs have exploded in righteous indignation at the apparent emergence of a police state. The Prime Minister wants ISPs to filter pornography, just as mobile operators have been doing for half a decade or so. Users wanting to access …

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Well the comment about O2 on 3G is incorrect.

All mobile operators supply a way to block adult content simply by letting them know, you can also block other services such as premium rate phone lines etc.

How do I know? Well I have a work phone on O2, and in some cases I need to check access to things and this may end up being of an adult nature. :D There is nothing blocked other than the default list which blocks cp.

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Re: DJ Smiley

"I have a work phone on O2"

There's the reason. Business contracts do not enable filtering by default. Personal contracts (eg: mine) do.

C.

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It's the other way round. Personal contracts are blocked by default, and you have to let the network know to turn off the filter. I did this on my O2 contract with a £1 credit card payment, which was later refunded. It's a bit silly really, as you can't technically take out a phone contract if you're under 18, but I suppose they don't bother differentiating between contract and PAYG with regard to filtering.

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I have a personal phone on Vodafone. Have never asked them to opt me out of anything or make any specific content available. I can access porn on it no problem, even when abroad. This has always been the case.

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I, too, have a personal phone on Voda. It never used to block anything, until I changed my contract a few years back tog et a better price and new phone, at which point they started blocking 'adult' content even though I had been a contract customer for around fifteen years. I had to phone them up to get it removed, which they quickly did over the phone. TBH, any child with the motivation could probably impersonate an adult and do the same.

It is worth noting that what they deem to be 'adult' content is not just pronography, but a much wider definition, such as gambling sites (including the national lottery) and some news outlets.

There is a significant difference between the blocking of adult material on a single mobile device, which has a very good chance of being used solely and unsupervised by a child, and blocking specifically pornography on a fixed line which is shared by a number of devices. There are plenty of filtering products out there for those who don't want to supervise their child's internet access, and most ISPs offer an OPTIONAL filtering service.

The issues most people have are the default stance of blocking things and people having to opt out, the creeping censorship this entails, the list of people who have opted out, and the uses this list may be put to, and the implication that it is the state's job to supervise the parenting of children within the domestic setting. These are but a few objections, I'm sure you can find plenty of other reasonable ones.

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FAIL

Both Orange Safeguard and Vodafone's Content Control block sites which "could be deemed offensive".

In this case I found I was unable to access the site for the International Shooting Sports Federation (which is mandated by the IOC no less to regulate the Olympic shooting events) because it "has to do with nasty nasty guns" and "could promote firearms crime", which anyone even faintly familiar with the Olympic Shooting events will know is an utter crock.

They also ban shooting's national governing body (NSRA) and my club's site. Which is annoying.

I can see a case for blocking hunting sites for under-18s on the premise there might be images of dead animals (although I wouldn't agree with it - groups like the RSPCA make a living by putting footage of animal abuse on pre-watershed TV) but for target shooting? No, not a hope. They have no business censoring it.

Interestingly the International Fencing Federation is not banned, even though the same line of reasoning surely suggests that swordplay would promote knife violence! And knives are much more readily available than firearms to our yoof!

So I think the inevitable concern is mission creep - mobile providers are already blocking perfectly legal stuff "with the potential to offend", including Olympic sports and stuff that really isn't offensive by any sort of objective measure. I don't see that porn blocks will stick to porn - mission creep is the raison d'etre of bodies like the IWF. Whilst CEOP's job is spelt out in it's name, I can see the Internet Watch Foundation spreading it's wings to Watch rather more areas of the Internet than it's founders intended.

Plus, the whole strong-arm the search companies and block at ISP level ignores the more pressing issue of identifying where that abuse exists in the UK, rescuing the kids and dealing with it (and data-sharing with foreign bodies where it's outside the UK).

As it is, this sums up the current position:

"Hurrah, we've made it hard(er) to find child porn on the internet!"

"Yes, but what have you done to actually stop the kids being pimped out in the first place?"

"Oh. Well, err, that's complicated. You actually have to find them first. Difficult. Expensive. Takes time. Strong arming the search companies is cheap, easy, and makes good headlines."

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To add to the list -

I was at a music festival last year, and couldn't look up the program of events on my phone because Orange decided that it was adult content.

The conversation about what and what is not appropriate to put in a filter has most definitely not been had. Pornography should not be singled out. Sex and the display of sex is far less offensive than many, many other things we allow and should continue to allow unfilterered.

It should not be the childrens internet by default, and children are exactly the ones that will find their way around the blocks fastest.

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Anonymous Coward

Dear Dave

I see that your time at Eaton has had a profound effect on you life. I wonder whether it was those late night dorm raids, the fagging or the rough and tumble jinx you took part in that has influenced your life. Granted the use of the cane in your day, being thrashed by the older boys , was a little over zealously done but rest assured that it was only done to you as a right of passage. It has made you into the man you are today.

For the rest of us, the unprivileged oiks, we were not able to experience such a privileged upbringing as you had. You even got up to a lot of high jinx at Oxford did you not.

However give us the benefit of the doubt over our own lives. Most of us can make rational decisions without being influenced by hang ups. We are a sensible bunch and don't need to be nannied by the State. I know this is hard for you to understand, you have after all never had a real job in to real world since you were closeted from birth to being PM.

Let us make our own decisions and treat us like adults.

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O2 blocks things like some clothes shops and tattooists as being "adult content"

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what have you done to actually stop the kids being pimped out in the first place?

Now there is the nub of the issue.

I have never heard any evidence anywhere from anyone even suggesting that the victims portrayed in CP would not be victims of abuse if the camera wasn't there. Someone prepared (given the opportunity) to abuse a child for profit, is exactly the sort of person who will (given the opportunity) abuse a child for no better reason than they can.

Offender motivation is very complex and the profit motive never features on the list. (just for the record - victims by and large do NOT go on to become offenders either)

I was a victim as a child, photographs were taken, I'm now a middle aged man, eventually I have been able to address many of the issues/difficulties/problems that came about as a result of being abused. Some things I haven't been so successful with, and I can accept that I probably never will, and thats ok (well it's a metric fucktonne short of being ok, but I am where I am :-D). It's taken me around 40 years to get here, and I'm doing ok.

The pictures?

I don't know if they still exist, and TBH I don't much care. Compared to all the other horrors of my everyday existence as a little boy, It didn't make a whole lot of difference to anything.

It's not on my top ten of things to get pissed off about now, not even on the top 100.

For sure CP online needs to be eradicated if possible (which I highly doubt) And people trafficking in this stuff need to be dealt with. Yet it continues to amaze me that some dribbling fuckwit with a few dozen pictures on his PC is treated as the same kind of animal as a degenerate priest or DJ who is responsible for actively ruining the childhood's and shattering the personal development of dozens if not hundreds of young people. Directly causing (typically) decades of suffering in silence, and further decades of therapy and the BEST you can expect is to acknowledge that most of your life is missed opportunities, assuming that is that one of the many suicide attempts along the way didn't turn out to be more than an attempt.

The only reason for the disproportionate treatment of CP possessors that I can come up with is that dribbling fuckwits are easier to catch, and that creates the impression that something is being done, when it really isn't. I guess in about 30 or 40 years time people will be looking askance at attitudes around the turn of the century that paid lip service to addressing the issue of child abuse, but did little to actually try to help the victims. In the same way that we treat the attitudes in the 50's 60's 70's from the exalted moral high ground we now feel we occupy.

Abuse is real, it's happening everywhere. In more than one house on your street. Today. Some of the victims will die, most will never confront their issues, those that do will devote years and years of 'crying in a room full of strangers' to get there.

But you can sleep well, dave cameron is on the case.

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Paris Hilton

O2 might turn this on by default for contracts, but all operators don't.

The number of parents who buy their kid's contract phones, and never inform the operator that a under 18 is operating the phone means we have many "WHY DID YOU LET LITTLE JOHNNY CALL THOSE LINES!" customer complaints, after little johnny has made it very clear he is pretending to be 18.

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Re: what have you done to actually stop the kids being pimped out in the first place?

I don't think anyone is suggesting that eliminating child porn will completely stop child abuse. However, one thing is for certain, it isn't going to lead to an increase in child abuse, and it might reduce it a bit. So for that reason it is worth doing.

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Re: what have you done to actually stop the kids being pimped out in the first place?

'I don't think anyone is suggesting that eliminating child porn will completely stop child abuse. However, one thing is for certain, it isn't going to lead to an increase in child abuse, and it might reduce it a bit. So for that reason it is worth doing.'

I'm not aware of any studies on child abuse, but I am aware of studies on porn that suggest removing porn will actual increase sex crime. The reason is simple. Some will always commit sex crimes. However, there is a large chunk in the middle that get their kids through looking at porn. Therefore, they never move onto sex crimes. I'm not aware of any study that has ever suggested a causal link between porn and committing sex crimes. Yes, people who commit sex crimes normally use porn, but it doesn't mean porn caused it.

So, you have these people who don't commit crimes, but get off on watching porn. Now, take that away. Some will still not commit crimes and will simply live without the porn. However, another part of that group will need to get their kicks somewhere. As porn is no longer available, they will move up to sex crimes. Therefore, you are causing more sex crimes.

So, your assumption it can't make the situation worse is contrary to what several studies have found (in relation to porn and sex crimes). So, your assumption could well be wrong. You are mistaking correlation with causation.

Additionally, if you look at the stats, most countries with more lax porn laws actually have lower levels of sex crimes than the UK. So, there is evidence that the reverse is true.

This is not me saying that child abuse should not be wiped out (or as close as we can get). However, you only do that by controlling the people that would do it. Not those that would look at it. Those that would actually do it. If you had 100 people who carried out child abuse and 10,000 who looked at the videos, is that better or whose than 200 people carrying it out and nobody looking at the videos? In one case, you have 100 victims, in the other 200. Which is worse? If you manage to stop everyone watching it, but more 'graduate' to actually carrying it out, are you making the situation better or worse?

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Anonymous Coward

Sort of agree except for one massive glaring problem...

Most systems now by default censor anything with the words gay, lesbian or bisexual in them. This cuts of a news, shopping you name it.. And guess what not everything with those words is porn.

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Re: Sort of agree except for one massive glaring problem...

This ZDNet article contains evidence of that happening on Tumblr's mobile app.

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Anonymous Coward

My mobile network (voda) doesn't block at network level. There is an app on phones by default by my experience (of the nottingham store) is that at the time of launch they had so many people walking in for support (ie getting it removed) that they now simply offer to remove it for EVERY customer over 18 before they hand the phone over.

However long ago they launched this system this is still the case to this day.

I wonder if any other reg commenters have a similar experience at other voda stores? did your phone come with the filth-filter on? Mine didn't.

I thought that was about the only part of this article I could comment on without getting worked up. What a crazy position. Do you, dear author, honestly believe this will prevent teenagers accessing porn? I don't. not for one second. I think the author serious under-estimates the ability teenagers show in getting round already existing systems and that's all I'll say for fear of begining a rant. Mind you, I suspect that's the point of this article getting published. I'm sure the author beleives what he's written, but from an editorial point of view...obvious troll is obvious.

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My Mobile provider (virgin) came with a filter already applied.

It prevented access to forums, so I disabled it within 24 hours.

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Facepalm

The comparison between mobile and fixed line networks is so mind numbingly stupid. Mobile networks have filtering by default because a teenager can wander into a shop anywhere in the country, hand their pocket money to the salesman and buy a phone with a pay-as-you-go sim outright. No contracts, no paperwork, no parental oversight.

When was the last time you heard of a 14 year old getting a fibre line installed to the family home without their parents noticing?

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I think possibly the point is that whilst the default on/off debate is one thing, what is notable is that mobile providers are not filtering porn but "objectionable content" - including music festivals, Olympic sports, etc, etc presumably based on a stunningly crude and broad-ranging set of keywords with pretty much no transparency or procedures in place for getting your site un-filtered if it gets swept in erroneously. There is no reason to suspect that a landline filtering system would not creep out to cover all sorts of things that the government decided were "undesirable".

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Happy

Filter fail

T-Mobile blocked fanfiction.net in the US so the first thing I had to do with my 13 yo daughters phone was allow "adult content" ... of course, T-mobiles arse is covered and that's all that really matters isn't it?

The entire argument has nothing to do with porn at all.

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...who don't know one end of a CAT5 from the other.

Because the difference between both ends of a CAT5 is...?

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Anonymous Coward

...the pin connection order if it's a cross-over cable. Although, yeah.

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Coat

One end is for the computer, the other is for the wall, if you mix them up your data will flow the wrong way.

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Joke

I'm OK

I use CAT6 so don't have to worry about either end of a CAT5...

I am dead ace at the interweb and know where all my megabytes are going to on my hard drive or laptop.

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Coat

> Because the difference between both ends of a CAT5 is...

Both male, how shockingly pornographic

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> the difference between both ends of a CAT5 is...?

Meditate enough upon this 5000 year old IT industry Zen koan and you may achieve enlightenment.

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Anonymous Coward

Because the difference between both ends of a CAT5 is...?

I think the author is trying to demonstrate his superiority in the same way as Basil Fawlty trying to tell a guest that he was a wine expert saying "most guests here wouldn't know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret"

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FAIL

"...who don't know one end of a CAT5 from the other.

Because the difference between both ends of a CAT5 is...?"

That was a joke. You didn't get it.

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One end is correctly plugged into a device, properly audited, asseted and configured....

....the other end is lost. Somewhere in the patch panel. We're not sure where.

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Angel

if you put it straight in the female it is wrong

if you put it twisted in the female it is right

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Anonymous Coward

..,.the mouth and the arse. You soon know if you stick your appendage in the wrong end, I can tell you.

Claude Balls.

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"A surprising number of parents simply assume the internet is already filtered, just like the TV has a watershed, and their children are wandering unprotected on an open network parts of which are really quite unpleasant."

The answer is to educate the parents, and to get them to have responsibility for their children. A half arsed PR stunt to make people think that working filters are in place will ensure that those parents will continue to let kids use the Internet unfiltered, as the kids will have found a proxy to get around the blocks!

A default filter does NOT solve the problem. It needs a programme of education as well. Any ISP level filter needs to sit alongside software controlled by the parents, so that they have finer control over what is and isn't blocked.

Parents also need to ensure that they still have anti virus and anti spam software installed on their windows machines, but it would not surprise me in the slightest if those of a less technical bent assume that this filter will also filter out that kind if thing...

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Childcatcher

You seem to be suggesting that parents take responsibility for their children. That's not the 21st century way!

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Paris Hilton

Watershed

"A surprising number of parents simply assume the internet is already filtered, just like the TV has a watershed, and their children are wandering unprotected on an open network parts of which are really quite unpleasant."

So why not apply this filter in the same way as it is on the telly - i.e. turn it on before 9pm, off afterwards (until some arbitrary time in the dead of night)?

Personally, I'd prefer the control to reside in the devices, rather than in the network, but then I'm literate enough to police my kids network connectivity.

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To be fair, the article already said that teenagers will find a way around it, and AFAIK that's not the point of filtering. Filtering wont ever stop a determined individual from accessing what they already know is there. What it stops is little Jonny 5 yr old from finding what is there in the first place. Though saying that, obviously little Jonny shouldn't be given unsupervised access anyway, but still.

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It's no accident, either

"You seem to be suggesting that parents take responsibility for their children. That's not the 21st century way!"

And it's not just communist and fascist governments that do everything they can to break up the family, and make themselves the hub of every individual citizen's life. Every modern government does that. The more they can replace parents and grandparents, the more money they can justify grabbing and the more control they can assume over our lives. Driving down pay through inflation and taxation (as suggested by Lenin) has so far enabled them to force most mothers to go out to work, leaving a huge gap which must be filled by business and government.

It's actually very funny. During much of my life I was subjected to a torrent of propaganda about the wicked communists and how our way of life was the exact opposite of theirs. That turns out to be true in one respect at least: Karl Marx predicted that the State would eventually wither away. Whereas in the freedom-loving democratic West, the State is steadily growing and extending its power over everything we say and do.

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Anonymous Coward

Excellent point, well made

"Parents also need to ensure that they still have anti virus and anti spam software installed on their windows machines, but it would not surprise me in the slightest if those of a less technical bent assume that this filter will also filter out that kind if thing..."

It is not up to the ISP to prevent viruses, it's up to the user to learn and apply security.

Blocking porn at the network level means that the mumsnet crowd will never learn, which is worse! Far worse!

If porn is so unnatural/unhealthy/bad, why is there so much of it?

If you see porn as unnatural/unhealthy/bad, those are attributes that YOU are applying, denying the truth. Teaching kids about sex has always been an issue parents have shyd away from because they don't know the truth or their religious beliefs make them think it is evil. These are the worst type of parents and will only prodcue another generation of fked up kids, and the cycle starts again!

Grow a pair and teach your children properly!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Watershed

"I'm literate enough to police my kids network connectivity."

Which is an adult, considered position. I respect that!

I have no respect for those who dump their responsibilities onto the rest of society. (Explains why I dispise huge swathes of the 'Glish)

If you want to keep your child safe, LEARN what the risks are and how to overcome them! I can then have hope in society and believe that I'm not surrounded by selfish dumb "people".

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You expect to teach all parents how to filter the internet and enforce fine-grain control over each device?

Yes, parents SHOULD take responsibility for their kids, but a lot don't know/understand/care and its the kids that suffer when they come across stuff that they shouldn't.

Honestly if you are that bothered about looking at filth then turn YOUR filter off. Hardly a big deal and some protection is better than no protection for those that do need it.

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Re: Watershed

I would prefer controls in the router than the ISP, that way I can still have my porn while locking down my kids devices so tight they can't even open a VPN tunnel!

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Anonymous Coward

Jonny 5 year old would see porn, and click back and go back to trying to find whatever he wanted...

As a parent you need to get your kids balanced before they start searching for that stuff..

Nudity should not be a taboo... but I bet places such as the british naturism website will be blocked by this!

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@AC.

'

Jonny 5 year old would see porn, and click back and go back to trying to find whatever he wanted...

As a parent you need to get your kids balanced before they start searching for that stuff..

Nudity should not be a taboo... but I bet places such as the british naturism website will be blocked by this!'

Too right. Adults are all too quick to put their bias on other people. A 5 year old will see nudity or whatever and be totally uninterested. They were looking for something on Elmo from Sesame Street or whatever and will simply ignore it. Older ones, who understand a bit more are probably already looking for this stuff anyway. It's amazing how many adults attribute sexual thoughts to children way too young for this simply because the adult has sexual thoughts. School know about this and its a common theme in complaints. Parents complain that their 5 year old girl was grabbed inappropriately by a 5 year old boy. This all goes ballistic and they fail to see sense because they're looking at it with sexual eyes rather than through the eyes of a 5 year old. Their daughter gets upset because of what their parents are suggesting. In reality, they were simply playing tag or whatever in the playground and there was absolutely nothing sexual about it at all. However, the boys parents need to get involved etc.etc. My wife sees this sort of thing in school all the time.

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So?

"What it stops is little Jonny 5 yr old from finding what is there in the first place."

So? I remember when I first found out about the mechanics of the whole business. I was about 8, and I remember thinking something along the lines of "errrrgh!" I just figured adults were wierd, and I'd never want to do that. I certainly wasn't interested in porn, and the naked female form held no appeal for me. If I had stumbled onto a site full of it, I'd not really have known what it was all about and I'd definitely not have been interested.

The point is that seeing sexual images is not going to do Little Jonny any harm unless there's already something wrong - he'll just shrug and move on to pokemon, or moshi monsters, or whatever the kids are into these days.

What harm does it actually do?

(now if we're talking about child porn then I can see that there might be odd assumptions created in little Jonny's brain - and incidentally it really bugs me that there's no H in his name, even though he doesn't exist - but that stuff isn't easy to stumble onto and is already hidden/removed as quickly as possible)

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Mushroom

Re: It's no accident, either

You're right mate, only that you fail to see that we're in the situation we're in because the left owns the culture in the western world.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It's no accident, either

I thought it was Tory boy doing this? If he's your idea of leftist you must wear nothing but brown shirts...

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Not just little Jonny

It's the whole house. The adults can't access stuff they might need for work, or just want to see, so they turn it off. Now no protection for little Jonny.

Much better to put a filter on little Jonny's computer. For a 5 year old as simple as using a safe DNS service.

It's not fit for purpose. Unless the purpose is to make points with the Think of the Children crowd.

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Re: Watershed

"some arbitrary time in the dead of night" 5:30 am. Facts wot most people can't remember.

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Re: Not just little Jonny

Easy solution: don't buy Little Jonny a computer! Buy him a tin drum, a crossbow or one of those fun toys that loving Uncles would buy their beloved nephews and, as these are enlightened times, nieces. Little Jonny will have much more fun with a crossbow.......

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