back to article BT network-level STOCKINGs-n-suspenders KILLER arrives in time for Xmas

BT has flicked the switch on its promised network-level filter system in a move to swerve regulatory meddling from Whitehall. Next year, it will nag existing customers to make a choice about what content they want access to via BT's broadband network. The system will censor clumps of the web - such as pornography and self- …

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  1. Suricou Raven

    Don't worry.

    If they can't manage a block on the pirate bay that takes more than thirty seconds to defeat, what hope have they of holding back all the porn on the internet?

    1. FartingHippo

      Re: Don't worry.

      About as much chance as Canute had, I'd say.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Don't worry.

        About as much chance as Canute had, I'd say.

        But Canute wasn't trying to hold back the sea, he was demonstrating to his sycophantic followers that even a King had to bow down before the force of God.

        I'm not sure Cameron is expecting the same results, but he will discover that even Westminster can't defy the all-powerful god of pr0n.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't worry.

          "all-powerful god of pr0n."

          Nearly knocked coffee all over my keyboard with that one (with my over-developed wrist).

      2. The Man Himself Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Don't worry.

        "About as much chance as Canute had, I'd say"

        In the context of this discussion, the alternative spelling of that king's name might be more appropriate.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't worry.

          Do you mean "C4nut3" ???

          Also, if the filter REALLY worked, a BT subscriber would be able to add the NSA/GCHQ's ip blocks to the filter, and never have to worry about fucking spies again.

          1. Graham Dawson
            Headmaster

            Re: Don't worry.

            The original spelling was Cnut.

            You figure it out. :)

  2. Vimes

    The Conservative-led government, keen to satisfy its core Middle England voters, has warned Britain's ISPs that regulatory intervention could happen if they fail to do their bit in helping to protect kids online – even if some of those children know only too well how to dodge such a system.

    ...and there is no meaningful oversight of filtering by the government. Despite the fact it only exists in the first place because of the bully boy 'do as we say' style tactics employed by the likes of David 'which-pub-have-I-left-my-daughter-in-this-time?' Cameron (maybe, just maybe, if he spent more time looking after his own kids and less time interfering with everybody else's children then the whole country would be better off?).

    I've tried asking what rights website operators can expect if they have their site blocked.

    Their response? Pretty much nothing really. They try and pretend that website owners don't really have any rights and that they should be glad with whatever little action they can force out of the ISPs.

    Whilst this doesn't come as a surprise, what is a little unsettling is the way in which the government seems to think that an organisation like UKCCIS is the best placed one to look into the matter of overblocking. These are the same people that once counted Phorm as a member. It also includes both the sorts of busy-bodies that think the filtering is the best thing since sliced bread and the sorts of providers that sell the filtering to the ISPs.

    1. Haku

      I forsee news stories of websites that should never be in the block but are there because of some little mistake or over-zealous filtering, causing their UK sourced traffic to virtually disappear in a relatively short time, and how the site owners voices are just being ignored by the 'people in charge of the filters', whoever the hell they are.

      The future of UK internet access is going to be interesting, unfortunately for all the wrong reasons.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Presumably one of Lincolnshire's most picturesque seaside resorts will now be removed from the internet.

    2. Jim 59

      Filtering

      It comes down to a balance between blocking the 'orrible stuff, and stopping the govt. from blocking sites in future for other reasons, political reasons. The dangerous bit comes with who decides what goes on the blacklist. It could be oh-so-easy for a totlitarian foot in the door.

      I don't really see much of an alternative though. Many people agree at least some level of filtering is required. The govt. is giving people a choice, and you can choose no filtering. So, unlike in China, say, an adult can always see just what it is the govt. is blocking. It seems the best course in a hard situation. :-/

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Filtering

        There's a clear sequence: First, block the child porn. No-one ever objects to that one, it's an easy sell to the public, and it gets the filtering systems in place. Then you can progress to blocking sites performing criminal activity. After that comes the porn - start off on the kinky stuff, less backlash, and describing BDSM as 'rape porn' assures support from certain pressure groups. A brief detour for sites deemed harmful to children like suicide advice, then start on the 'hate sites' - start off with the open racism and calls for violence, and gradually loosen the definition until you can start banning anyone who raises concern about the high immigration rate or 'promotes religious hatred' by insulting a religion. A little loosening of libel law to allow anything insulting anyone to be easily struck down by court order, and you have a government-controlled easily-censored internet - at least for those who aren't dedicated enough activists to seek out the technological underground communities.

        1. Jim 59

          @suricou raven

          Yes. That's what "totalitarian foot in the door" means.

        2. phil dude
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Filtering

          disturbingly succinct...

          P.

        3. willi0000000
          Childcatcher

          Re: Filtering

          so, Creeping Sharia™ by another name.

          i find it difficult to understand the US fundies who want to make their religious principles into law but who decry putting an almost identical set of principles into law because they aren't the right brand. i'm in favor of letting anyone post anything they want on the innertubes. if it's bad enough they can be prosecuted under laws that exist apart from the net. parents have the responsibility to filter their rugrat's net surfing the same as they have the responsibility for raising them to be responsible adults.

          [yeah, i know, "personal responsibility" is for you, not me]

      2. Vimes

        Re: Filtering @Jim 59

        Many people agree at least some level of filtering is required.

        Speak for yourself.

        And even if some people support this it's more likely to be because there's a general refusal - amongst other things - to ask why they're allowing access to gadgets to children in the first place when such access is inappropriate. I've asked this before and I'll ask it again: just why do they need smartphones?

        As for parental control over what their children are doing, such controls already exist. My 3DS has them. My ipad has them. Even my router has them, and there are entire applications with the sole purpose of filtering for PCs.

        Parents seem to be either too scared or unwilling to learn how to use methods already at their disposal, and we're paying for that fear and refusal to learn with this sort of crazy scheme.

        Personally I still believe that securing the device rather than the connection is a better solution. What happens when the little kiddies take their ipad and use it on an unfiltered connection?

        and you can choose no filtering

        Until things break down. I had a really hard time getting rid of filtering from my mobile and had to go back to the provider to try and get them to get rid of it properly.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Filtering @Jim 59

          Hi Jim,

          As hard as it may seem for you to understand without you removing your head from your ass, not everyone in the whole country is well versed in content filtering at a device level.

          Children will grow up to be adults in pretty short time, so disallowing them access to the world of online information and opening their eyes to the possibilities of such information and the freedom to discover where a few hops on the internet can get you (in a good way) would be a gross disservice not just to the kids, but to the generation they will become.

          The internet is now a fundamental part of modern British life, asking why kids need smartphones is like asking why you need an iPad - you bloody well don't NEED it but you like it and it is good for getting info and killing some time. You try being a tween type age kid with no devices and see how popular you are in school - Good Luck! You aren't just a saddo with no kit, but are also left out of the whole out of school socialising on social media (and yes, before you start I do monitor and lock down social media and is linked to my mails etc etc.)

          Since we are in this position and people either can't, won't or are to god damn busy to learn how to lock down their own connection - an ISP provided filtering service will fit the bill just right for some people. You don't want it - don't have it!

          </RANT>

          1. Vimes

            Re: Filtering @Anon coward 20:05

            Ummm... It's me actually, not Jim that wrote the previous message. Where not being proficient in using device level filtering is concerned I only have one thing to say: learn.

            And as for any difficulty in learning, I call bullshit on that one. Every system out there has been designed with parents in mind. The idea that they would have a problem using them is ludicrous, and is just an excuse for laziness on their part.

            If something is inappropriate for children to have then they shouldn't have it. It's as simple as that. We should not be pushing systems and rights to breaking point simply to satisfy the presence of people that should not be there, and we definitely should not be putting their popularity ahead of their safety. It's that sort of poor parenting that creates a lot of the problems that are then used as justifications for this sort of stuff IMO.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Filtering @Anon coward 20:05

              Haha, ok.

              A- sorry Jim

              B- I was having a very bad day.

              We shouldn't need to hand-hold lazy parents I agree, but what alternatives have you got when they can barely operate Facebook within the realms of grammatical sense! The amount of kids I know through mine who have personal horror stories from the likes of chat roulette, un-moderated chat etc etc is mind boggling. This filtering won't even touch stuff like this I know, but you get my point.

              Sorry again for being an ass ;)

          2. Vimes

            Re: Filtering @Jim 59

            ...to god damn busy to learn how to lock down their own connection

            So that's the real reason: people are too lazy - oops, sorry, I meant of course 'too busy' - to do the job themselves and expect other people to clean up their messes for them...

        2. MrXavia

          @Vimes

          I agree, no filtering for me!

          IF I want to filter my kids net access, let me do it at ROUTER level (seriously why don't many routers have this already???) I am sure BT decided not to include the filters on the routers on purpose..

          And as for blocking child porn, I would much rather they spent the money and time tracking down the culprits and castrating them with a pair of blunt sheers than just blocking the images which really does nothing but push the trade of them underground...

          My kids have smart phones/computers... and I monitor their access, by being in the room with them when they use them, and I TELL THEM if they access something inappropriate so they learn right from wrong, like a parent should....

    3. scrubber

      Get the big boys involved

      If everyone complains that there is pr0n on google and bing then the filters will have to be removed sharpish - or the law will look like exactly what it is, capricious, ill thought out, unworkable, and pandering.

      1. kwhitefoot

        Re: Get the big boys involved

        The big boys do not care one fig for your freedom. They are only interested in revenue. If it turns out that they will make more money by censoring their search results than by not censoring them then that is what will happen.

  3. JoshOvki

    "strict", "moderate" and "light".

    "The one-time national telco has applied different levels of control to its system: "strict", "moderate" and "light". "

    How about a none at all option?

    All I want for Christmas is a VPN connection outside of blighty.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Devil

      Re: "strict", "moderate" and "light".

      I want my internet policy set to strict nanny.

      I don't care what people say about my web surfing. Sticks and stones may break my bones. But whips and chains excite me...

    2. charlie-charlie-tango-alpha
      Big Brother

      Re: "strict", "moderate" and "light".

      "All I want for Christmas is a VPN connection outside of blighty."

      Try openvpn. You can rent a really cheap VPS (less than 5.00 USD per month) in a variety of places other than dear old blighty. With your own VPN to that VPS (running on say, port 443) you are good to go.

    3. Tim Jenkins

      Re: "strict", "moderate" and "light".

      "All I want for Christmas is a VPN connection outside of blighty"

      Mine costs under $3 pcm, now I've paid for a year in advance, and as a bonus I can switch to US Netflix and carry on enjoying My Name is Earl from a portable device while the Wii keeps feeding the kids iPlayer habit...

    4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: "strict", "moderate" and "light".

      So this Christmas a group of Tory MPs get to ring up a nice lady at BT and ask if they need "strict" or "moderate" discipline on their pron?

      I can see how this got passed

  4. Russ Tarbox

    DNS circumvention

    Am I right in thinking that all these "blockers" can be circumvented by using non-ISP provided DNS servers e.g. Google's public DNS servers?

    Or are they actually analysing all DNS traffic across their network, regardless of the servers being queried?

    1. Vimes

      Re: DNS circumvention

      Am I right in thinking that all these "blockers" can be circumvented by using non-ISP provided DNS servers e.g. Google's public DNS servers?

      Judging from the following BT forums thread, if you try using any other DNS service with parental controls enabled then internet access will stop working.

      https://community.bt.com/t5/Other-BB-Queries/McAfee-NetProtect-Net-Protect-Parental-Controls-vs-new-Google/m-p/1110176/highlight/true#M73653

      1. Russ Tarbox

        Re: DNS circumvention

        Thanks Vimes. I didn't know whether to upvote your post to say thanks or downvote because I don't like the answer!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ways around censorship

    It will take kids about ten minutes to find a way around this and then spread the info to all their school pals.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ways around censorship

      It will take kids about ten minutes to find a way around this and then spread the info to all their school pals.

      Not necessarily ... both my sons (17 and 13) are currently unable to research parts of their history topics at school (one doing WWII and the other the Korean War) since anything involving guns is blocked on the basis of "violence". Only way around this seems to be to do the work at home.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ways around censorship

        Then you're doing a poor job educating them in the fine art of bypassing such censorship. It's our duty as tech-literate parents to teach our young'uns these things so that they don't become technologically stunted adults.

        ;)

        1. whatwasthemiddlebitagain

          Re: Ways around censorship

          I did that and my son ended spending the day in exclusion for breaching the IT policy and had his access to the school network blocked for a whole term - failed to teach him how to palm off the blame on someone else!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ways around censorship

        "Not necessarily ... both my sons (17 and 13) are currently unable to research parts of their history topics at school (one doing WWII and the other the Korean War) since anything involving guns is blocked on the basis of "violence". Only way around this seems to be to do the work at home."

        If that were me, I would raise holy hell with the school network IT department until they lower the blocks or at least whitelist certain usernames on their blocking device or cloud service.

        A filter stopping people from accessing things the school doesn't like is one thing, blocking educational research is something entirely different.

      3. The Axe

        Re: Ways around censorship

        To AC @ 14:41

        So you say that kids won't be able to find a way to get around blocks, but then prove your self wrong when you show that your kids can bypass the block by working from home. Isn't that working out a way round the block.

    2. R 11

      Re: Ways around censorship

      Does anyone have it activated yet? What happens if you use iptables to send your DNS traffic to opendns servers on port 5353? E.g. 208.67.220.220:5353

      1. Suricou Raven

        Re: Ways around censorship

        Vimes up above already found evidence suggesting that the filter also blocks all UDP-53 packets precisely to prevent that approach.

        1. moiety

          Re: Ways around censorship

          Google Translate is your friend here: Translate an English site from (random language) to English and it works as a proxy with the added benefit that pretty well nobody blocks it. For a no-setup no-brainer way of skipping through firewalls and filtering systems it's hard to beat.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Ways around censorship

            we block this for our schools for just this reason.. not exactly a new way of bypassing anything

        2. R 11

          Re: Ways around censorship

          @ Suricou Raven

          That's why I specifically asked about whether DNS traffic routed away from port 53 works.

          I also pointed out a well known public DNS service that permits traffic on other ports.

          I'm suspecting they have a very simple block or possible transparent redirect of all DNS traffic on port 53. They'd need to start packet inspection to spot DNS traffic on other ports.

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Ways around censorship

      There's always TOR, or even Lantern...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ways around censorship

        lantern is already on the sh*t list for managed AV in schools, should work pretty good at home though ;)

  6. MJI Silver badge

    I want web sites blocking

    I want phishing sites blocked, virus sites blocked, cryptolocker sites blocked, anything sites designed for dangerous payloads blocked.

    .

    But do not cut off harmless sites with naked people on them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I want web sites blocking

      I upvoted you once, but El Reg won't let me upvote you again.

    2. kwhitefoot

      Re: I want web sites blocking

      Not going to happen, middle England and Mumsnet probably don't even know what most of those strange jargon words mean so they won't be agitating to have anything done about them which means that there is nothing in it for any politician.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Who is middle England?

        As a traditional centre right tending towards libertarianism person#, I would tend toward the Conservatives on the least disliked method*. Yet what they are doing is not what I would want, and the other parties are no better.

        In fact no party is trying to appeal to me, they are all tryng to put me off. Cameron needs to take a close look at some of his other MPs and see what they stood for, David Davies for a start, then there is Ken Clark, two politicians I prefer over a lot of recent ones.

        I do not have to agree with a poliician to like them, Tony Benn is a good example, not a fan of his politics but he is a conviction politiician not a sound bite one - oh and he saved the Concorde project.

        Some politicians though I just cannot abide, like that tit who visited Gadaffi.

        # Private companies making a profit is not evil, most likely making profit for your pension. I do not want the state micromanaging my life. I do not want the state owning all the businesses, and I do know that sensible tax regimes take in more money than so called progressive ones. Yes such things as defence and NHS need to be paid for. So when they talk about 40% rather than 50% for high earners, these high earners are more likely to be UK registered for tax if they are not being ripped off.

        * Basically order you want to punch them in. Milliband is more punchable than Cameron. Cameron is a well meaning fool, Milliband is just a fool.

        As to UKIP, am I the only person who thinks that Farage resembles a used car salesman?

        Clegg is not forgotten, well he should be, Keneddy was more likeable, so what if he had alcohol problems he is only human.

    3. M Mouse

      Re: I want web sites blocking

      I'd like them to find and zap any spammers, but they are probably too busy reading about PPI or Viagra...

  7. Doozer
    Stop

    VPN's anybody....?

    Good job I have got a decent VPN to get me out of the UK. I guess within 5 years, the sale of VPN access to foreign shores will be 'banned' as well!

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