back to article ISPs under pressure to control online porn

Campaigners will meet with the internet minister, Ed Vaizey, to lobby for ISPs to be forced to control access to pornography. Vaizey issued the invitation to Tory backbencher Claire Perry, who said the availability of sexual material online is "a fire is burning out of control". The minister offered to act as an "honest …


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  1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    It is called 'parenting'

    Some might have heard of it.

    We have some moral lobbyists who will play in to the hands of all sorts of other censorship issues. If parents were concerned, would they not take steps to stop it? You know, maybe like talking to their children about the issue? Or keeping the PC in the living room?

  2. Chizo Ejindu

    re: it's called parenting

    You're absolutely right! The problem is, it's far easier for the parents to stick their head in the sand for a bit of peace and quiet rather than control their kids entertainment. So they'll give kids a pc for their room "cos my mate steve's dad got 'im one and i want one innit!", then they'll go buy them GTA 4 "cos keith down da road said it was well sick innit! straight merk dem fools innit blud!"

    Then when their precious little mouth-breather goes off the rails it's everyone elses fault - the government, the schools, the video games, the internet, keith down the road and steve's dad. Cue Mrs frothing spittle-flecked outrage from Litttle Hatington writing to the Daily Fail, "Why won't they think of the children!!!" Knee-jerk from the Minister for Soundbites, "This is outrageous, we need legislation!" and the next thing we know there's some ridiculous attempt to randomly curtail a wide variety of liberties in the pursuit of a glowing redtop headline and some Sky News facetime.

    And anyone with half a brain is standing there thinking, what... the... fuck?!?

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Either of you got any kids..?

    Most of these IT'S THE PARENTS' FAULT comments seem to come from adults with little experience of raising children themselves...

  4. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge


    "Most of these IT'S THE PARENTS' FAULT comments seem to come from adults with little experience of raising children themselves"

    Which, in my opinion, just goes to show that they inherently have more sense.

  5. GrahamS

    Re: It is called 'parenting'

    Do you honestly think that most parents have the technical knowledge to outsmart a hormonal tech-savvy teenage boy who has plenty of spare time, motivation and access to the hive-mind of a world full of other teenager in the same boat?

    Keep the PC in the living room - he'll use his phone.

    Take his phone - he'll buy a cheap iPod Touch off eBay.

    Use OpenDNS filtering - he'll use IP addresses and proxies.

    Turn off the router - he'll use the neighbour's instead.

    I don't think ISP filtering is the answer - but I'm not sure what is.

  6. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    @Either of you got any kids

    So my anonymous friend, what exactly is wrong with the suggestion that some education and supervision of children would work?

    Or are you a parent who is unable to reason with, or control, you kid(s)?

  7. Charles 9 Silver badge

    But as me this.

    How do you outsmart the kids when the kids are smarter than you? It's not easy since they have access to things the parents may have never even heard of (like secret wireless routers they conceal in the furniture or, as said, the iPod Touch they can easily pocket).

  8. DannyAston
    Thumb Up

    Posted Friday 26th November 2010 14:51 GMT

    Spot on - most people I know with kids don't even know that sort of content that exists on the web and how readily available.

  9. Ian Stephenson Silver badge

    I have a child.

    He is 4 and very bright (I would say that though wouldnt I)

    He can navigate his way around both a Linux and a Windows desktop, prefers Firefox to IE, and has his own bookmarks (Cbeebies and Playhouse Disney sites) in his own passworded login.

    Who is responsible for his surfing?

    His mother and myself. No one else.

    He only gets access when at least one of us is in the room with him, and yes the pc is in the living room.

    We are the judges of what is suitable for him to view/play not the government and and certainly not the moral minority who yell louder than anyone else.

    Wont somebody think of the children??? I damn well do and dont you forget it.

  10. Bluenose

    Sorry I have kids and....

    I make sure that I can see what they are doing by keeping the PC where I or my wife can see it, by talking to them about what may happen when they use the internet, what to do if they see something that upsets or concerns them, explaining that porn is not something that they need in their lives and that if I catch them looking at inapprorpriate material I will stop their net access for a period of time.

    I am a parent and my rules apply in my house. My oldest is not getting a laptop because they spend to much time on Facebook and at this time they do not need privacy for their internet usage.

    The other thing I have done is to explain the facts of life, explain about relationships, love, abuse and sex. I encourage them to talk to me or mum about anything that they want to discuss or know more about and I make sure that they understand that at all time they should be in control in their relatinships.

    As others have said, I am a parent and I have a job to do when it comes to bringing up my kids. I cannot avoid their coming in to contact with porn, racism, religeous fanaticism etc but I can make sure that they understand how to deal with such issues.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "most people I know with kids don't even know that sort of content that exists"

    That's because they're clueless and not fit to be parents. If a teacher allowed that sort of behaviour in school, the daily fail comic would be petitioning for beheadings of said teacher. (see

    Rather than a license to access online material that isn't suitable for children, people should require a license to breed, I mean raise, model citizens.

  12. Paul Crawford Silver badge


    Which is my point - trying to block it is going to fail, and you should be educating kids to behave 'reasonably'.

    You won't stop pr0n access by a dedicated teenager, so the best you can do is make them understand what it is/means beyond the obvious titillation aspect.

    It is like the whole sex education debate again: telling kids "just say no" or banning contraception is not a successful approach. Educating kids to stand up and either refuse peer pressure, or at least to use a condom for their own (and partner's) protections, is far better.

    Yes it is embarrassing (probably for both), and yes it is not an easy subject to explain, but it beats ignorance by a big margin.

  13. Semaj
    Thumb Up


    Posts like yours give me hope.

    Got to remember though - it's not JUST your responsibility as parents, it's his too. Just like it'd be his responsibility if he was being a fool and fell over and hurt himself. Completely shielding kids from everything bad seems just as bad as letting them get on with it themselves (just look at the stupid 13 year old who thought it'd be a really great idea to jet off to Gatwick without telling anyone).

    I'm sure that you guys will do fine though :)

  14. jon 2

    lazy parenting!

    Either you take responsibility for the media your child consumes or you dont. It's pretty simple.

    I don't want the state doing what parents should be doing themselves, but are too feckless or just downright thick to do.

  15. Alex 14


    Jeez, if my son learned how to use IP addresses, proxies and hack wi-fi networks to bypass my blocks, he'd deserve to see some porn for his trouble.

  16. Martin 71 Silver badge


    Keep the little darlings under control. If you're not capable of doing that, you're not fit to be a parent. It's easy *

    *Yes, I know it's not as black and white as that anymore, with nanny state telling you you can't discipline the lovely little people anymore, but the basic point is valid. Don't say 'the job's too difficult for me'. You chose to have the children. Inconveniencing the rest of us, and putting the control of what is and isn't allowed to be viewed in the hands of an ISP who in turn are effectively controlled by the government, is NOT what the UK is supposed to be about. We're meant to be a free[ish] society .

  17. Mark 65 Silver badge

    Filter fail

    Of course it won't work but politicians never let facts get in the way of a popularity contest or soundbite. This sort of behaviour is exactly what I hated about the last Government. Let the public know that nothing is their fault and that big buddy Government will shield you from all the nastiness and all you do is create a nation of contemptibly stupid mollycoddled dickheads - not the majority but a very vocal "I know my rights" minority. We've all encountered them. It's about time some of these idiots were given a bit of education about parenting rather than having their ineptitude pandered to. If they want to bring in legislation how about something along the lines of "before you get an internet connection you'll need to have gotten a clue else use the library"?

  18. M Gale

    Kids, eh?

    "Keep the PC in the living room - he'll use his phone.

    Take his phone - he'll buy a cheap iPod Touch off eBay.

    Use OpenDNS filtering - he'll use IP addresses and proxies.

    Turn off the router - he'll use the neighbour's instead.

    I don't think ISP filtering is the answer - but I'm not sure what is."

    By the time your darling is old enough to do all that, he's probably old enough to know a few things that'll turn your hair grey a few decades too early. Censorship by that time is a little like trying to shut the stable door after the entire race meeting has just departed in haste.

    If on the other hand a young child even has the requisite debit card to buy something from ebay (and if you keep giving a nowty little sod money to buy an iToy), then you have something wrong there that a national Internet censorwall will never fix.

  19. Northumbrian

    Before the internet

    We were, I suppose, lucky. The internet as we know it was non-existent when I had to worry about my children. There were things to worry about, though - sex, drugs and heavy metal for starters.

    One problem is that we keep talking about "children" as if they are all alike, but there are huge differences between seven-year old children and fourteen year old children.

    When they're seven, you can ban computers in the bedroom, and control mobile phone access and screen their friends. Come fourteen and they head out of the house, "Where are you going?" "OUT". And you have to decide whether you are prepared to make an issue of it. I didn't, but I was prepared to make an issue out of what time they came in - and spent 2 years of my life on a permanent war footing. And discovered that they had more stamina than I had, and more relish for the fight.

    On the other hand I never had many worries about alcohol - I knew they would get drunk from time to time, and doubtless regret some of what happened as a result. But I had let them sample wine/beer at mealtimes since they were quite young and they largely despised those of their peers who went crazy the minute they could get into a bar.

    I suspect that, as other posters have suggested, that the only way to handle this is education. But you have to do it early enough. They learn a lot very young these days, so you might as well take advantage of that knowledge.

    If they know what porn is before they really want to access it, then you can talk to them about it before [a] they find it too excruciatingly embarrassing to talk to their parents about sex and [b] they want to make a point of conflict, because fighting their parents is what teenagers do.

    [Pundit mode]The worst damage that porn does is not that it makes innocent children think about sex, when they would otherwise be pure in heart and body, or even that it gives them the wrong signals about acceptable bounds of behaviour in real life. The latter will usually correct itself . It's that they can end up with totally unrealistic ideas and ideals about their own bodies and the opposite sex, and sexual performance and that can cripple them for life. Most porn is about as realistic as World of Warcraft. You can't just teach them (or try to teach them) not to use the stuff - it's a learning ground for many young people. You can teach them to distinguish it from real life.[/Pundit mode]

    But they will fight you, and try to outwit you about something - that's part of growing up for most teenagers.

  20. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    O2 already jumped on board

    Just had a SMS from O2 this morning - they're blocking access to all "Over 18 Content" via mobile phone for anyone who doesn't verify age. What "Over 18 Content" actually means is anyone's guess, I don't know if it's just porn, or if it will also include (e.g.) video game sites where the game is rated 18 (as the sites often request confirmation of age before allowing entry) and the like.

    Apparently confirmation requires a credit card, where they debit £1, and then credit £2.50, so people aren't out of pocket by verifying.

    I would've thought that the fact that my phone is on contract (which you can't take at under 18), and they've got all my details - including date of birth - would be enough to verify my age!

  21. GrahamS

    Re: O2 already jumped on board

    Ummm.. are you saying you just got a random text message asking for your credit card details and you replied to it????

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That kind of verification has been around on mobile for ages, and is more straightforward than the internet because mobile users are generally known to the operators in some shape or form (and if you're a billpay customer you shouldn't have received that text - the operators are usually pretty good are pre-checking). Its a different story with general internet access and I'm firmly in the "its the parent's responsibility" camp (and yes, I am a parent).

  23. kevjs

    T-Mobile do that by default

    T-Mobile already do that - Twitter is blocked as I found out when our SDSL connection went down and I tried to find out if anyone else had issues... And in the past I have found a page on our website listing Essex Steet, Hull and another address in Scunthorpe also caused the page filter to kick in - argh!

    Fortunately on personal contracts you can unlock from the My T-Mobile website.

  24. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!


    "Ummm.. are you saying you just got a random text message asking for your credit card details and you replied to it????"


    -I received a text message from O2 (verified sender as compared to previous comms from O2)

    -I contacted O2 to confirm that this was a valid current operation - it is.

    -I went to the update website - via the main O2 site, on my desktop - and completed the transaction at this secure (https) location.

    I assumed that Reg readers would be familiar enough with the basics that I wouldn't need to spell it out in detail.

  25. Andrew Parsons

    Over 18 content on o2

    O2 have been doing this a while. You can go into one of their stores with photo id to get the filter removed also.

    Sites they blocked included the good pub guide for me. Obviously o2 are scared of the kiddies learning about the dangers of Real Ale as well...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good to know. O2 off the appropriate suppliers list.

    I assume they offered to let you out of any contract with them because they changed the Ts&Cs for this? No? Might be a nice little suit for breach of contract in there, then.

  27. Tom Jasper

    O2 Age Verification, data privacy and maybe shared profit from porn

    There's a bit of a discussion going on at the O2 "Discuss O2" forum regarding O2, their use of Bango, the collection of data, incompetent site categorisation and just which sites are the 18 which are referenced in the spamming SMS

    "O2: You'll need to prove you're over 18 to go on 18 websites on your mobile. Call our free automated service 61018 or go to . You'll need a credit card"


    * Site categorisation ( is a naughty site)

    * Mobile content (of questionable taste?) billing

    * Site analytics

    * Boasters of how much data they can grab, store and pass on to their customers.

    * Age verification...

    I fear it's not a give us your credit card, we will deduct a pound and give you two pounds fifty back... more of give us your credit card, we'll sweeten it a bit and then be able to bill again and....

    This is what they say on their registration website

    "The first time you use a credit card to prove to us that you are 18 or older we will charge £1 to your credit card and credit £2.50 to your mobile account. Please note that each time you age verify, your credit card will be charged £1. You will only receive £2.50 credit when you use this service for the first time. "

    Personally, I think this smells a bit like a the uncollected bins left out the back of the local fishmongers during a summer council strike

    Anyhow, take a peak at the forum and make your own judgements

  28. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!

    @ Tom

    Interesting info there Tom, thanks. Insomnia struck at 4am, so I've been having a look at this and at some other stuff about the banjo-players...

    Interesting to note that the O2 response confirms that the transaction will only be made once (from chris@O2 1721 26/11).

    Be keeping an eye on the credit card statements, and in the meantime have taken a copy of the one-time only statement. The monitoring/disclosure (job applications? WTF???) is a concern, it'll be interesting to see what they come back with in response to yourself and prking.

    (I assume you're using the *****7 monicker on there, so info above for anyone who is following here only)


  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Its not all it seems!

    This blog post explains the importance of the transaction.

    Yet another reason I am glad I dont use O2 mobile anymore.

  30. Delmo

    Parenting Fail

    Why is it that people think of the internet as somewhere safe for children and that we should give them free reign to browse unsupervised, and that it should be down to ISPs to monitor and filter everything we do?

    I always thought the .xxx domain idea should be flipped on its head and we have a .kids domain that are legislated and guarenteed as safe for children, with massive fines and action should you abuse a .kids domain. Then all you would need to do is block internet access to anything other than .kids and there we have it. Instant, or at least heavily reduced chance for your children to see Goatse.

  31. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    That .kids idea sounds good...

    But then you suddenly encounter teletubbies....

    Gotta say, in the Olden Days, we didn't download porn but browser the lower shelves of the local comic book store for original french content. Guido Crépax was a bit much for my soft mind though.


    The problem is

    the net is an international telecommunication network, not a national broadcast network.

    You can regulate content in national broadcast telecoms (to an extent). You can't rely on regulation alone to protect children using a international telecommunications network.

    Consequently... you can't give kids unsupervised access to the internet (censored or not) because other more sinister users will exploit them. Censorship cannot possibly be effective unless it is exclusive (and therefore, the nature of an international telecommunication service is rendered useless).

    That same applies to post, phone, email, SMS, mobile or web. Would you let your ten year old kids send/receive letters from strangers without supervising them? I wouldn't.

  33. Charles 9 Silver badge

    But how do you supervise them...

    ...when they know your routine and know ways around them? You may now even know they get lettes from strangers because they beat you to the post and pocket all the incriminating evidence. How you control SMS when they get their own personal phones from college-age friends? How do you keep them off the web when they've learned to piggy-back off the neighbor's wireless link on an iPod Touch they can easily pocket?

  34. Circadian

    Re how do you supervise them?

    You don't. As you say, unless you clamp down so hard on your kid that he/she has no freedoms, all you can do is teach them how to survive in this messed-up world. How to use their own judgment on what is safe and what is dangerous. Give them a grounding in common sense and sensibilities, and hope that their mistakes are never too serious. And most importantly of all, make sure that they know that you have their back, and whatever happens, they can talk to you.

  35. ph0b0s

    Childrens Internet

    If I was the ISP's I would say to this group. Yes, we can put in a system are children not able to access stuff they should not. They can have their own internet, with only approved content . The links will be tunnelled over existing internet links so you cannot get from the child internet to the normal one. It will have it's own Search engines and DNS and a seperate link the house and to the PC's in the house your children use.

    But it will cost 3 to 4 times as much as a normal internet connection. But whats money to keep the little ones safe. Or maybe you could spend a little more time learning how to use those perental controls.......

    And why childless people have to opt into a non controled internet. Put the onus on perents to opt out. They decided to have children after all, why has it got to be my problem suddenly.

  36. Tim Hale 1


    Exactly, @ph0bos. It's like having to have a PIN on Sky to watch a film after the watershed so that the kids I don't have can't watch the film that is on after they would have gone to bed (if they existed, you see what I mean). But if I record that film I can play it back at 10:00am without entering a PIN. How does that make any sense? It doesn't even work properly and yet I still half to suffer it's half-arsed attempts to think on behalf of some notional parents.

    If you've got kids its your responsibility to go out of your way to look after them. If you don't have kids it's your responsibility not to go out of your way to do anything harmful ('Whee! I've got no kids, I'll drive through that playground blindfolded!' No. Not cool.).

    Opt out. If you have Internet access, Sky, whatever, know how to use it. Use OpenDNS, ask someone, read. a. book. It's not like saying 'Oh, it's too complicated' is a defense when driving a car, is it?

    Being a parent is hard? Who said it was going to be easy?

  37. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    We didn't start the fire; it was always burning since the world's been turning...

    "She wants tighter controls on material that is legal for over-18s to access."

    That is _still_ legal to access, that is...

  38. Semaj


    This is getting beyond a joke now.

    How do these lobbying groups get formed? Is it possible to set up a sensible lobby group to counter these ones? I think we need it because it seems to me like the common sense message is being drowned out by the insanity. I'm thinking along the lines of what the ASP have done in Australia.

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. GrahamS

    Re: Typical parents - blame someone else!

    And get all your neighbours to do the same? And all the local wifi hotspots? And 3G access?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let me guess

    pony tail and goatee?

  42. Circadian

    (b)reading skills

    "...those who insist on breading..." - yep, making children involves lots of dough!

    (I'm sorry, I really am - but the evil side of me forced me to post this!)

  43. Jim_aka_Jim

    Silly title

    ISPs wouldn't be under pressure to control offlive porn now would they?

    There's so much porn becuase it makes money. If govs could control the advertisers better (or at all) then by default you control certain content. Unless it's 100% free. Which is always nice.

  44. Anonymous Coward

    indeed it's called parenting..

    sorry mods - can't even spell check or proof read - here is a literate version:


    Through technological ignorance, time pressure, or for a myriad other reasons, I'm unable to look after the interests of my own kids by learning about how computers work and understanding how I can take reasonable steps at home to control access to inappropriate material. It interferes with my active social life to spend time talking to my children and supervising their online activities. I would like someone else to look after this instead, the Internet service people for example. It doesn't really matter that that this practically impossible, provided it looks like it is and I don't have to worry about it anymore...

    thank you.

  45. Marky W


    Have an ePint on me.

    Both my kids are under 3 but I've already started worrying about this issue. Rather than running around hysterically and commenting on Daily Mail articles, I've actually investigating ways to solve this myself (by using the esoteric, high-tech magic of a Google search, and then applying a hefty dollop of Common Sense). By the time they hit their mid-teens I'm sure they'll be running rings round me, IT-wise, but by then they'll be old enough to process what they are exposed to in a more rational, and less damaging way.


    Please would someone encourage Vaizey...

    to meet **ANTI**-censorship/**ANTI-surveillance campaigners...?

    We can be reached on (provided that your ISP is not filtering/censoring your communications, obviously).

    We'd very much like an invitation from him too.

    I've got my coat ready, and my parenting skills handbook, with the page entitled 'your responsibility to supervise your own children' book marked.

  47. Big_Ted

    WTF is with these people......

    What do thet expect the ISP's to do, look at every website in existence ?

    How else will they know which ones to block ?

    Or are they calling for Deep packet inspection of everything going through their network .

    This is the sort of stupid approach made by people who can barely understand how to turn a computer on let alone how the inter web works.

    All we need is a simple price of software that parents can install and put blocks onor decide which websites are allowed........

    Oh right there are plenty out there already .....

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Re: WTF is with these people......

    "Or are they calling for Deep packet inspection of everything going through the network ."

    I don't yet want to put any money on it, but I suggest a bit of background study might be beneficial.

    There are sufficient "fake charities" around that have been set up specifically by a body to lobby that body for changes that the body could otherwise not suggest. The anti-smoking lobby is one, anti-alcohol another. I wonder if this is another?

    As Uncle Jim Gamble formerly of CEOPC is now at a loose end, does anyone know what he is up to?

    Beer 'cos it's Friday _and_ I have a cheque to pay in!

  49. John Smith 19 Gold badge


    "What do thet expect the ISP's to do, look at every website in existence ?"

    Yes. They really *are* that ignorant. Like that previous bottom feeder who thought *every* video on YouTube should have a rating, because, well how many can there be?

    "Or are they calling for Deep packet inspection of everything going through their network ."

    You can bet if they *knew* what it was they would. Mind you that might require filling their pristine skulls with some actual *facts*.

    "This is the sort of stupid approach made by people who can barely understand how to turn a computer on let alone how the inter web works."

    True. Facilitated by an MP who needs more than the average number of whacks from the clue stick.

    "All we need is a simple price of software that parents can install and put blocks onor decide which websites are allowed........

    Oh right there are plenty out there already ....."

    So I hear. In fact it's my impression that most paid pron sites sign up with *all* of them as a matter of course. I think it's because they consider themselves in the "Adult" entertainment business, not the shocking-little-kiddies-with-blatant-sexual-imagery business.

    Ah, another election, another group of clueless attention seeking media whores looking for a cause to champion who will wear their ignorance of one of the major forces shaping their children's future with *such* pride.

  50. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    The NuLabor bottom feeder I had in mind wanting to certificate all YouTube content

    Was the Minister at the time Andy Burnham.

    This jobs seems to be like the old Home Secretary's. Nice people turn into monsters. Sadly it does not seem to turn rabid right wingers into liberals.


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