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back to article UK smut filter may have sent game patch to sin-bin

UK gamers believer they're bumping into that country's mandatory ISP-level smut filters, courtesy of a filename that accidentally red-flags the purience-punting grumble-blockers. Courtesy of this Reddit thread, it seems that users trying to download upgrades to the game League of Legends are stalling when they reach files called …

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Well that's my holiday ruined!

I'll never be able to download the tourist guide to Scunthorpe!

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Filters are folly.

This is what happens when you allow a bunch of technophobic Mrs Lovejoys to dictate policy instead of telling them in clear terms that they need to take responsibility for the action of their little cherubs when they venture onto the interwebs.

I dont need or want filtering, The under16's who use my connection (all 5 of them over the last 10 years) have been involved in frank discussions about the dangers that can lurk on line - and in the real world - if you subscribe to the immature belief that the world is a nice place free of dangers and nastiness the rude awakenings await both your offspring and you a little further down the road when you finally encounter real life. Forewarned is forearmed - and a dose of reality about the world is GOOD for any kid growing up - as is parental oversight of the activities, rather than expecting network filtering to babysit the kids that they are too lazy - or stupid - to supervise.

These are the same idiots who believe that children should go through childhood wrapped in cotton wool so they cant hurt themselves with such dangers as Conker matches or climbing trees, only to find that once they hit their teens that drink/drugs/driving fast does actually get you hurt and hurting is not a great feeling.

I never did get this ridiculous attitude towards matters of a sexual nature - we all do it, iots healthy and natural, the more we try to make it furtive and shameful the more we risk people developing unhealthy attitudes and practices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Filters are folly.

Well said. I've got my first sprog on the way and I'm going to tell it to do loads of dangerous things, sensibly. Although if it's anything like I was when I was a kid it'll do the exact opposite and be a little angel just to piss me off.

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Re: Well that's my holiday ruined!

You joke, but this happened a few years back. I think it was AOL who introduced a similarly badly thought through, and implemented, nanny-net that wiped Scunny from the map.

Nice to know that all the lessons have been learnt so well eh?

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Re: Filters are folly.

Here, here, sir! Cracking good comment and I couldn't have put it better myself!

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FAIL

Re: Filters are folly.

Filters are not folly.

I put one at the top of the stairs which only allowed objects smaller than my child or much larger/stronger than my child through or over.

Few people thought I was stupid. I certainly talked to my children about the dangers of stairs. Despite understanding what I was saying, I didn't remove the filter straight away and we went on many training runs up and down the stairs together. If ever I was doing things upstairs, I'd often take the her up with me, close the stair-gate and pop her down while I got on with the jobs. I don't think it ever crossed my mind that I might be too lazy or stupid to remove the stair-gate and spend all my time supervising the child. I rather thought it was a good idea to let them explore the environment on their own, within certain prescribed boundaries.

Even after the star-gate was gone, she didn't have unrestricted access to the park down the road. Outside the front-door was out of bounds, for a while, regardless of whether she actually wanted to visit the park, or just sit on the doormat.

Pre-puberty, children don't really have a "sexual nature." It isn't something they really come up with except by imitation and the desire to "be grown up." To them, sex is just a bit weird and yucky and not interesting. An 8 year-old and an 15 year-old are not the same.

The (correct) proposal that sex is both healthy and natural rather obscures the fact that there is a lot of rather unhealthy sex available for viewing on the internet and on TV. The human race has managed to have sex just fine without the internet. The kids don't need it and it's generally unhelpful to their education. If my kids are going to the internet to find out about sex, I think I've probably failed in a big way. Sex on screen is rarely educational and almost always misleading. From the ultra-thin models, to the air-brushing and pristine hair, to the extreme expertise even of first-timers, to the constant ecstasy and the merry-go-round of partners. Sex on screen doesn't reflect real-life and even when people know that, the constant repetition of the lies is difficult to counter. Hence, no uncontrolled TV in the house. The internet is more difficult to control because it actually has a useful use, unlike TV, which doesn't.

It's worse when you introduce all-out porn. The sex on screen may be fake, but the sexual experience of the watcher is real. Sex becomes something conducted utterly at their own discretion with absolutely no need to consider anyone else. It is utterly selfish with any whim catered for at the click of a mouse. No real partner can or should have to live up to that. There are lots of subtle lies out there. When it comes to children, they have, by definition, not completed their training to be knowledgeable, rational and responsible adults. When you first put them on a bike, you hold it and take complete control. As they learn, you relax the controls. You don't give your 3 year old a sharp knife because they want to cut a piece of paper. You filter their access to the kitchen knives. They know they are there, they just can't reach them.

I would be the first to suggest that the way the government has gone about things with national network level filters is folly and to be utterly resisted, but there is no particular reason to suggest that the entire idea of filters is always wrong. It should be enabled by request on a per-account basis with real-time logging to an agent so you can tell what's going on when things mysteriously fail.

Sadly it appears that people are behaving like the government. They take a few nice sound-bite arguments against these particular filters and make an argument against any sort of controls in any situation, in much the same way as the government takes sound bites for some good ideas and turns them into a completely inappropriate argument for infrastructure which shouldn't exist.

Straw-man arguments on both sides obscure the issues and ruin the debate.

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Re: Filters are folly.

Having the filters available isn't the issue though. It is the 'forced' nature of them, and the underhand way the government is trying to say "ahh but you have a choice... all you have to say is 'let me access pron' and we will take them away so you can be a parent on your own"

Lets say you have a very small set of stairs (say 2 steps) and you CHOOSE to not put a gate up and let your child learn by falling down the steps a couple of times to learn it is not a good idea to go head first, then that is your choice.

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Somehow I don't think so.....

Otherwise Wessex, Sussex, Middlesex, Essex and many other places in England would be wiped of the map quite quickly (some may argue that's no bad thing).

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

Wessex is an idea, not a place. Just saying.

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

Not just an idea, it was a kingdom in its own right!

While we're at it, we can no longer teach our youngsters how navigation was carried out pre-GPS using a sextant.

Use of the RCA 1802 microprocessor can't be taught because it contains the opcode SEX (Set EXecution register).

Panasonic's parent company cannot be mentioned - Matsushita - along with many names in Japan.

Musicians will be unable to play sextets.

... and never forget Belgium.

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

And just forget the biro-centric website Pen Island.

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

"Wessex is an idea, not a place. Just saying"

I don't know, I think I'd much rather watch 'The Only Way Is Wessex' than the current alternative. A lot more axes and helmets I should imagine...

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

"Wessex is an idea, not a place. Just saying."

*pffffffft* - the sound of all those Thomas Hardy ebook downloads disappearing.

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Coat

"Wessex, Sussex, Middlesex, Essex"

I always wondered why there was a West Saxon, a South Saxon, a Middle Saxon and an East Saxon but no North Saxon. Then I realised it was probably because they tried calling it "Nosex" and everybody left.

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

I stayed in a hotel which refused to let me read an article detailing Sussex CCC results due to "adult content" but did, however, let me on to pretty much any other website I tried.

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

Peniston?

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

I sir am shocked that you'd use such a gratuitous and offensive word like that outside of a sererious Screenplay.

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

And forget googling "The Town Of Uckfield In Sussex"

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

Or Cocking, West Sussex GU29

Lady Hole Lane, Ashbourne, Derbyshire

etc etc...

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Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

Nah, Middlesex is no problem, it's the other sexes that will be filtered.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Somehow I don't think so..... @SORUK

"Use of the RCA 1802 microprocessor can't be taught because it contains the opcode SEX (Set EXecution register)."

Interestingly 'RCA' is a very naughty acronym found in the Urban Dicktionary.

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'RCA'?

I thought RCA was a type of coupling... a specification for a male/female interconnect with a simple centre pole and ring arrangement.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Somehow I don't think so.....

"Panasonic's parent company cannot be mentioned - Matsushita"

I think you mean "Matsupoopa".

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Just think of all those children saved from nasty peados by the blocking of these morally corrupt files. It just goes to show that the government's filters are working.

</sarcasm>

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Angel

Another tool for mischief! Hooray!

So the baddies can Google-bomb the name of some OS update or security program update, so that the smut filter just blocks said updates?

Sirs, we truly live in enlightened times! New uses for censorship are being discovered almost every week. None of those uses are good, though. :-|

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Angel

Re: Another tool for mischief! Hooray!

Pretty much none of the existing uses are any good, either.

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Heaven help you ...

... if you live in Scunthorpe.

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Happy

Re: Heaven help you ...

Dear Nigel, please read previous comments before posting.

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Re: Heaven help you ...

My wife comes from Scunthorpe. She was in the Scunthorpe and District Schools Orchestra which gave every member a T-Shirt with the name written in a circle around the logo on the front. They all quickly learnt never to wear it under a V-neck jumper.

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Re: Heaven help you ...

I tried desperately to get an embroidered top made up for work. City University Network Team.

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Re: Heaven help you ...

The original name for Newcastle Polytechnic when it was becoming a University (now the University of Northumbria) - was...

City University Newcastle-upon-Tyne

- since they didn't use the 'u' in 'upon' in the Acronym, that would have been an interesting first test print run of the new letterhead...

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Well, pasting from the original section re the internet filter we see:

12.2.3 Banned IP addresses broadly portraying pedophilia, death or "snuff", League of Legends, bestiality, plus other grossly offensive material (Section 12.1.1)

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I assume any site that gives a voice to Theresa May will be banned, I find her Grossly Offensive..

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A well known American quiz show winner sends out a weekly quiz by email which he numbers using Roman numerals. Every couple of months he has to change to Arabic numerals for a few weeks due to the number of spam filters that grab anything with XXX in the name.

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I used to work for an Investment Bank (not as a banker I hasten to add) who introduced email filtering. One of the words that would cause an email to get blocked was "rape" - it took several days and the bank potentially lost a considerable amount before the rape seed oil analysts and traders realised what was happening.

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Banker lexicon

@NightFox: I seriously doubt rape seed oil trading was as much as the rounding error of the overall losses, given the normal, matter-of-course, business-as-usual vocabulary of your average banker.

FWIW, I remember when "business-appropriate" filtering was introduced in the messaging system of one of the world's major global financial information networks - the one whose owner later became the Mayor of New York City, if you really must ask. The effects were splashed over the front page of the Wall Street Journal, as I recall (in the 90ies - the paper didn't even belong to Murdoch then).

One conspiracy theory was that the real purpose of the filtering was to block the famously foul-mouthed company owner (he was not a politician yet). But the most noticeable effect was the frantic experimentation, on a *massive* scale, by everybody and his sister to see what would and what would not be blocked. In many different languages. For many days. Probably at the expense of real work.

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That's why there seems to be a push to rename all of the varieties of rape seed 'canola' even though that's only one of the many variations.

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I worked for an engineering company whose contracted-out IT department filtered references to 'screw' from our delicate sensibilities.

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So, no Scunthorpe test was performed on our national filter? Difficult to believe....

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Spelling mistake in your post

You wrote "Easy" as "Difficult". Odd mistake to make, but there you go.

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The Scunthorpe test

The basic Scunthorpe test is to run common dictionary terms past a filter and see if it nabs the wrong ones. It doesn't usually extend to testing CamelCase phrases because there are too many of them.

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Ha

I look forward to seeing if this is a server issue or a filter issue. This would be an awesome mistake to bring the problems of filtering to the masses. Especially to those who thought filters would be easy.

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Re: Ha

"I look forward to seeing if this is a server issue or a filter issue."

I find it hard to believe that ISPs do packet inspection on the whole data stream and then apply crude filters to it. That's what GCHQ and the NSA are for, surely; I doubt ISPs have the capability.

X site got stupidly on a blacklist is plausible. This, not so much: more likely, it's either completely untrue or some sort of local issue with a web filter or proxy.

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They could easily test if this is the filter by uploading blank files with those filenames to a web server and getting the users with filtered connections to try to download them. If the filters really are blocking this deep based on filenames, really bad things are going to happen as more people are exposed to the filters.

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To be fair, it is no worse than their false positive rate for four months of Skype activity.

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on the other hand it's possible that it looks for sex and then whitelists sussex, essex, wessex, middlesex. because that's the way programmers minds work :-(

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Meh

Oh please, oh please

Microsoft I beg you! Please make one of the next Patch Tuesday files have some variant of sex in the name. When millions of Britons find they cant update their computers because of the filter, there will be outrage and condemnation. Hopefully it will be enough to create such a massive backlash that the filters will be relegated to the rubbish bin of history forthwith...

... oh wait I just realised that the chances of millions of Britons actually updating their windows machines on Patch Tuesday anyway are about as low as the chances of finding an honest man in politics. Oh well back to the drawing board...

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Linux

Re: Oh please, oh please

" When millions of Britons find they cant update their computers because of the filter," -- Don't make me laugh, who actually does the updates ?

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Re: Oh please, oh please

"Don't make me laugh, who actually does the updates ?"

Everyone who hasn't consciously switched them off. In a corporate environment, switching off or re-directing to a WSUS server may be quite common, but once you start talking about home users who get the nice lad at PC World to set them up ... I suspect that *most* Windows boxes are still set to auto-update.

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There have been stories like this...

...since the early nineties, when schools were getting t'internet and using crude filters. IIRC, Beaver University had to change its name to Colorado University as a result.

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