back to article Cameron calls for ISP-level parental censorship tools

Prime Minister David Cameron has warned ISPs to be more robust with their plans to provide better tools to help parents censor sexualised content online, or else the government could step in with its own regulation measures. "The social response is not something we can leave to chance. We need to make sure we hold businesses …


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  1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Cameron, stop listening to that cr*p, like now!

    Since when does a religious charity in the modern times in this country has a right to dictate what I want or don't want my children to do?

    Trying to turn onanists into organists at my expense? Why don't you, Mr Bailey, go and enroll into Taliban and move permanently to some nice mountainous countryside in the middle of nowhere?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      He is listening to different crap

      The crap that tells him that having an Instant Censor button is good when Egypt comes knocking on the door.

      Looking at the stats it is not a matter of "if", it is a matter of "when":

  2. Dick Emery
    Big Brother

    Title REDACTED

    Ah! More censorship by the backdoor then.

  3. Richard Taylor 2 Silver badge
    Thumb Down


    Why does the Mothers Union ( have a male CEO - CEO - oh gawd I thought they knew better......

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Parents are to blame.

    "developing the concept of so-called "ID Assurance""

    Waste of money!

    Parents can already filer content, they just dont know how too.

    So instead, those who put the n in cuts, want to regulate, instead of taking action against the parent.


    There's no difference between needing a driving licence to drive a car, and parents needing to learn how to use filers and apply them.

  5. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

    Why is this the ISPs problem?

    New government, same old total lack of any brains at all.

    Besides the obvious point that what they want is technically impossible.

    Why the h**l should this be the ISPs problem? I presume it is because on the whole they are UK based companies that the government think are OK to hit with a stick, where as, say the OS vendors, tend to be big, American and would either tell them where they can stick it, or wouldn't bother to reply at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      A Little Story, Or Two. Or Three.

      I went to a shop and bought a TV set. I took it home, plugged it in, fiddled with the aerial and started watching TV. I watched lots of programmes, and lots of channels. Eventually, I saw something that shocked me, truly shocked me! I never wanted any of that Sick Filth to be brought into my home. So I went back to the shop and kicked up a right old fuss about this. After all, it was they who sold me that TV set in the first place, so they ought to take responsibility for what that TV set brings into my home. Right?

      (Why is the ghost of Kenny Everett telling me to use my knob?)

      I got on a bus and went to the market. Browsing the market, I found a stall selling DVDs, so I had a look to see if there were any movies my family would enjoy. Imagine my surprise when I found hardcore porn DVDs there! I was shocked! So I went straight to the bus company and kicked up a right old fuss about this. After all, it was they who took me to that market on their bus, and my children could just as easily use their buses to get to that market, or to other places with unsuitable material. It's surely the bus company's responsibility not to expose us to such Sick Filth. Right?

      (Who said, "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people"?)

      I went to an ISP and bought a subscription to access the internet...

      (Feel free to copy, improve, distribute, etc, these little stories.)

      1. Miek


        " I watched lots of programmes, and lots of channels. Eventually, I saw something that shocked me, truly shocked me! I never wanted any of that Sick Filth to be brought into my home"

        Did you know that there is an Off Switch™ ?

        1. Anonymous Coward


          I hope you didn't miss the sarcasm in the post you were replying to as it sort of looks like you did

    2. Elmer Phud Silver badge


      It's because they are an Xtian organisation where mothers are revered, held on pedestals but eventually regarded as whores who tempt honest men in to doing the wrong things.

      They are a sham, just like those who are apparently 'advising' on birth control.

      When you look at two UNELECTED Xtian organisations getting power things become a tad worrying.

      Next - man with white pointy hat given post for Cameron's drive to integrate diverse communities.

      Jesus is not the answer to it all.

  6. Ben Norris

    The title was not suitable for children

    Parents should take some responsibility for supervising their children rather than whining about how it's everyone else's fault.

    The vast majority of internet users are adults with no interest in having to faff around getting poorly implemented filters turned off. Not to mention that it is another dangerous step on the road of government censorship.

  7. Anigel

    Already have a choice

    Parents already have a choice which is telling their kids not to click on something. Kids should not be let lose on the internet without adult supervision. The internet is not a baby sitter and I am sure that you wouldn't let your kids wander around any city doing whatever they want and talking to anyone they see without you so why on earth would you let them do it online.

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Education is the key

      Just like I would not let my kids roam the streets without a bit of 'green cross code' or which areas not to go to in the evenings I worked with my kids to make thier surfing safer. I didn't just go 'Hey, here's a computer, here's the internet, off you go'.

      Telling kids not to talk to anyone just increases paranoia - how many kids get lost at the seaside but are unable to ask for help putely because of thier 'decent and proper' upbringing.

      They asked about stuff. We discussed stuff, they were left to surf, to play, to discover the world around them, they approached the world with open eyes - not blinkers on. They are now a lot more grown and not damaged goods. They were also told that climbing trees was fun but to remember the way up and asked not to fall out.

      Your flame is a lit fart, nowt more.

  8. Disco-Legend-Zeke

    Most Parents...

    ...already know how old their children are. Obviously.

    Just train them to use the tools already at hand.

    Parental controls beat nanny [state] controls every time.

  9. MrSums


    OpenDNS provides this as a matter of course - why re-invent the wheel?

  10. Marky W

    Mixed reaction

    1. Making tools available = good

    2. Forcing people to use them = bad

    3. Making the ISP use them whether we like it or not = worse

    Being the cynical fart that I am, I can see the progression from one to three being swift, despite any promises that may be given by our much-beloved leaders.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ahh well

    Here we are again, lobby groups funded by idiots that believe charity is spent on the causes the charities purport to support spouting shit to make us into the puritan society they all believe was so great, fuelled by lies, innuendo, and case studies that have more holes in them than a sieve.

    Sucked up by the tabloid media to inform everyone that something somewhere is doing something to make someone somewhere you care about do something or another that you may not like. Then fired into the brains of the barren soulless idiots that make up most of the worlds society.

    I don't have any kids, so you all can keep the hell away from my internets, and if I did have kids then I'd take care of what crap they pour into their brains myself. Government, think tanks, lobbyists, the moral minority, the outraged masses, the media and, all the rest can go to hell.

    Not to mention the practicality of the whole affair and the complete cluelessness shown by anyone flag waving for this kind of stupidity.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @OpenDNS Family Filter

      Actually I tested for a youth club it and it's pretty crap.Took me all of 10 seconds to get around. Hint: Google images.

      Try K9 protection instead, it's free (for personal use) and it's rock solid.Even locks safe surf ON, I've tried a lot to get around it and it's dammed good.

    2. Tom Melly


      ... if you're in government, the answer to every problem is always more complexity.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    This would be the same UKCCIS that has Phorm as a member?

  13. Tom 38 Silver badge

    Think of the children

    The main problem with breeders is that when presented with something that they determine is unsuitable for little Johnny, they seek to ban, censor or criminalize that activity immediately.

    Typically, they then present their argument from such a position of superior morality, or rather, paint everyone who disagrees with them as immoral. It makes me fume, although not within 50 yards of a playground.

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Not all Breeders

      Some of us take the sensible view of "my mid, my responsibility".

      That said, I'm sure if it does get implemented it'll be hugely beneficial to my little-un. Had it been around when I was young, I'm sure I'd have learnt loads in my efforts to circumvent it. Probably better for society as a whole though if he learns it trying to get around one _I've_ set up

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge


        I meant Kid and not mid

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Obviously

          But what if my child had seen that despicable misuse of the English language?

          It could have ruined his grasp on literacy for life.

          I demand the government force all ISPs to spell and grammar check all internet content immediately.

          1. Ben Tasker Silver badge


            Reckon it'll be as good as the iPhone spellchecker? Saw a site recently containing some of the best (, looks like ti could be quite amusing for a while just to see what it manages to churn out!

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Thumb Up


              Fortunately child filters don't work like that else little Johnny might get an education he wasn't after.

  14. Chad H.

    Yo Mothers Union

    How about you do a little more Parenting, and a little less Grandstanding.

    If you want filter software, go buy it.

    Until then, how about you actually supervise your kids rather then letting Mr Computer play babysitter?

  15. Industry Observer

    Oh Mr Peanut why haven't you got a clue

    "To provide that option, Bailey is calling on the internet industry to offer either a network-level filtering system, such as the one TalkTalk just introduced, or else via "pre-installed software on a new laptop".

    In case Mr Bailey hasn't sussed it yet and as far as I know ISP's don't provide laptops or the software that they contain so why his report is suggesting they should, highlights just how out of touch this report is. He has also said he knows its easy for kids to get around filtering so why you insisting on pushing it then, UKCCIS/Government.

    The cynical side of me makes me wonder if there is a done deal going on behind westminster towers and UKCCIS and their ilk to push through no matter what, these idiotic and foolish proposals.

    Even Talk Talk say you can get around their free network level filtering software so why are they being used as the example of good practice.

    Disgraceful - and I know who will NOT be getting my vote come the Revolution.

    Thumb Down

    "a consistent level of protection across all media"

    The panopticon.

    Total communication surveillance.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why don't they just give out advice to parents about how to block sites etc.

    I'm aware most el reg readers don't need such advice, but to the general public it could go a long way

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: how to block sites

      Er, that would be because the list of sites to block are numbered in the thousands (I'm being generous here) and changes every day. Even asking ISPs to do this is stupid. Asking parents to do it is beyond belief.

      The only practical way to achieve what he wants is to arrange for the internet address space to be sub-divided according to legal jurisdiction. Then, you can either drop the packets or you can sue the sender. (For IPv4, it's several decades too late to do this. The address space is totally balkanised. For IPv6 it is merely late, but renumbering is a core feature of the spec, so it would be possible to fix it.)

      Amusingly enough, this is exactly how "real world" things like videos are regulated. Customs officers patrol the border to stop stuff coming in and police patrol the interior to catch those who get past customs (or who started off inside). It's not perfect, but if Cameron is willing to cite it as a proof of concept then he clearly believes it works well enough.

      The ISPs cannot change how the internet works. Heads of government probably can, but not if they waste their time grand-standing and shouting at ISPs.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        spot on.

        Also, most 'bad' sites (like the rest of the ones that I frequent) drop all traffic from net nannies (like bluecoat, websense, etc) and google, bing, etc., etc. So that they show up as 'unknown' in the web filters.

      2. Mark 65 Silver badge

        @Ken Hagan

        But that advice to parents could be along the lines of telling them how to setup OpenDNS couldn't it?

        Nobody is saying you have to tell them how to maintain a blocklist. You seem to have missed the point of the original post entirely.

        1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

          @Mark 65

          "Nobody is saying you have to tell them how to maintain a blocklist."

          Um, the original post was "Why don't they just give out advice to parents about how to block sites etc.". OpenDNS wasn't mentioned. You have a point, but I don't think it was the one in the original post.

      3. There's a bee in my bot net

        Content filtering...

        You don't need to block sites by IP address. You can use a content filter to assess the content of a page and block or allow access based on (various) sets of pre existing rules.

        Sure it isn't perfect, but it stops most users access most porn, gabling and web game sites at work as well as refusing to download files with certain extensions (unless the site is part of an exclusions list i.e. Windows updates etc). Just for shits and giggles one content filter I look after is currently blocking any site that mentions Justin Beiber.

        1. There's a bee in my bot net

          Lol - filter fail

          And as a result of that post it is now blocking this article!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Now your getting close to the real reason....

      This little activity has almost nothing to do with protecting children but a lot to do with who controls what we access and how it is accessed. The number of UK ISPs is relatively small and they are easily found. They are a choke point on information distribution.

      If they know what's good for them (and their business...) ISPs will comply..... No reasonable or sensible person could argue against it could they - unless they didn't have uncorrupted children and wholesome family values at the centre of their being.

      If you're using an offshore ISP to circumvent the rules then obviously you must have something to hide.... so let's just have a look, shall we sir/madam...

      A stealthy measure the like of which Ken Clarke would be proud were it in the Financial sector.

  18. Anigel

    This is a title

    As most kids are much more tech savvy than the parents anyway, any locally installed software solution is doomed to failure, just like any network level solution will be defeated by anyone interested in seeing something they shouldn't. All of my nephews mates knew how to get to any site they wanted from the school IT classrooms despite most of the sites they were using being blocked at the network level.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    This is ridiculous, but...

    Where's the organised resistance? Where's our version of the EFF? Where are the protests? I would drop everything to go to a protest against this, but there are none.

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Quite true, AC

      We need an EFF equivalent, (and an ACLU equivalent, but that is a different story) over here in the UK. However, who is interested in setting the group up? Obviously no-one, otherwise it would exist.

  20. Graham Anderson

    ask about parental controls during sign up

    Here's an idea - instead of forcing ISPs to turn on a mandatory opt-out nanny-filter for the entire country, why not make it a part of the signup process online or by phone:

    "So, now we've got you through the sign-up for your new ISP service, we've got one last question for you. Do you have any children in the household?


    "Would you like us to turn on the nanny-filter for you? You can turn it off at any time by going to your account control panel. Equally, if you don't want it now, you can turn it on at your account control panel..."

  21. Pete 2 Silver badge

    This is an EXCELLENT idea

    Provided it's implemented as follows ...

    ISP contractees get to answer one simple question and the level of censorship applied to that ADSL connection is then invoked completely. All the time. No exeptions. For every user. No other connections are allowed.

    The question is: what is the age of the youngest under-18 who will have access to a computer connected to this ADSL line?

    The degree of censorship is then set to this lowest common denominator. No "9 pm watershed" no exclusions for mummy and daddy. No loopholes for approved websites. Everybody gets the same. After all, you wouldn't like little Jonny or Joany accidentally logging on to an account someone else had left running, or discovering a parents' password and using their account. Nope, if your children really do need this much protection, then it must be applied across the board - think of the children!

    Personally I reckon these accounts would last a couple of months, until all the parents kicked them into the long grass (all except for a few idealists, for whom the question was never about censorship, but about being seen to be better at protecting [or should that be emotionally stunting?] their little darlings, purely for school-gate bragging rights).

    Once this happens we will see the whole initiative for what it is. Not something that's in the childrens' best interests, but merely a sop to remove the inconvenience away from the parents onto some anonymous "them". However, once this abrogation of responsibility has a cost or an effect on THEM, then I fully expect a flood of "the concerned" washing their hands of the whole sorry debacle and realising that everyday life does require people to grow up occasionally and the real trick is to equip our children for that time, not to try and hold back the tide and dumping the task on someone else.

  22. Vic

    Oh good grief...

    Will these people never learn?

    Even if they managed an effective filter, all that'd happen is that everything moves to SSL.

    Until Cameron bans SSL, natch :-(

    Twats, the lot of 'em.


  23. Anonymous Coward

    BT Acting Swiftly?

    Just today I got an email from BT advertising something called "BT Family Protection".

    The following link appears to lead to a relevant BT website page:

    "Take control of your children's safety on the Internet.

    Keep your family safe online with BT Family Protection (in association with McAfee). You can download it at no extra cost – just click on the link below. It's quick and easy to set up and lets you choose the level of protection for each child on up to 3 computers in your home.

    You can also filter out websites not suitable for children by age range or category, block or monitor programs such as Instant Messenger, restrict the times of day children can access the Internet and even get alerts when something happens."

    (Does anyone else remember the AOL ads with (I think her name was) "Lonnie" guiding a young child away from danger and into a safe area?)

    1. Anonymous Coward


      I truly think that McAfee totally works by slowing a machine down so much that kids'll go drink cheap cider in the park instead

      Internet Filtering Complete

  24. Spanners Silver badge

    Just tell everyone

    "What your kids do on the internet is your responsibility - nobody else's."

    I have 2 kids, now 21 and 16. They grew up with computers. They also grew up with me repeating do's and don'ts. Finally, they grew up, barely noticing it, with me controlling what/where/when was available to them. The only complaint I regularly got was when I forgot to change the times of blocking the internet at the start of school holidays.

    If I had ever bought a PC with filtering software designed and controlled by some right wing american corporate group, I would have had a good long look at it followed by probably disabling or deleting it.

    How do I get a Guy Fawkes mask here?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How you get an EFG mask.

      Post as anonymous, and don't select any other icon. Like so.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stop whinging

    Please can anyone point out how the implementation of an optional ISP level smut filter is undesirable in any way.

    It's a good idea - whether it will ever work well enough is another thing entirely.

    Grow up and stop bitching.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Shut your mouth, your IQ is showing

      For the more stupid amongst us, consider these:

      1). Who defines what is filtered

      2). Will the project creep

      3). Who will pay

      4). Why should the UK online populous as a whole kowtow to a few outspoken individuals who seem to not know:

      a). how to be a parent

      b). not know how to install Net Nanny

      5). Anything implemented will immediately be circumnavigated by any averagely intellectual 12 year old, whilst on the machine in their bedroom, left their by said parents assuming the machine to be 'safe', VPN routing through the Ukraine to watch videos of the Taliban shagging donkeys, whilst the rest of us continue to be burdened by this shit

      Good day to you sir

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        A few potential answers

        It's really not that difficult to find potential answers to your rantings.

        1). Who defines what is filtered

        Unspecified as yet - so if you don't like it, don't enable it.

        2). Will the project creep

        Speculation - legitimately complain when it does.

        3). Who will pay

        Not beyond the realms of possibility for those who wish enable it to pay for it.

        4). Why should the UK online populous as a whole kowtow to a few outspoken individuals who seem to not know:

        If it's optional - it's hardly a problem... how did you manage to quantify "a few"?

        4a). how to be a parent

        You merely need to breed to be a parent. Being a responsible parent takes skills that not everyone can manage.

        b). not know how to install Net Nanny

        Maybe it's a few people that realise that a reasonable proportion of the population can't install Net Nanny. Just because you can, doesn't mean that everyone can.

        5). Anything implemented will immediately be circumnavigated by any averagely intellectual 12 year old, whilst on the machine in their bedroom, left their by said parents assuming the machine to be 'safe', VPN routing through the Ukraine to watch videos of the Taliban shagging donkeys, whilst the rest of us continue to be burdened by this shit

        No one said that you had to be burdened. Don't be under the illusion that VPNs can't be blocked.

        > Good day to you sir

        And a very good day to you too.


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