back to article No anon pr0n for you: BT's network-level 'smut' filters will catch proxy servers too

BT's new network-level nudie no-no filter system will block access to sites promoting proxies and anonymisers, The Register has learned. However, the one-time national telco has insisted that it won't choke VPN connections over its network now that its Parental Controls service, using DNS lookup technology, is in place. On …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    This is going to end badly

    There is nothing wrong with your computer. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. Welcome to an Orwellian future, now.

    1. Vimes

      Re: This is going to end badly

      Some IP addresses will be blocked "where required", he added

      I'm just waiting for more Radio Times/FA style cockups to happen...

      1. Haku

        Re: I'm just waiting for more Radio Times/FA style cockups to happen...

        You mean like over the weekend just gone when Imgur.com was accidentally blocked on Sky broadband?

        In the immortal words of Bender Bending Rodriguez: We're boned.

    2. davemcwish

      Re: This is going to end badly

      Twilight Zone was better IMHO

  2. lglethal Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Censorship is alive and well in Britian

    Scope creep is already occuring and it's only just been turned on. It was only supposed to block p0rn, but now it also blocks links to proxies. What will be blocked next?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      How the hell can I watch The Daily Show now?

      Re politics, this week's Have I Got News for You made a reference to Ed Balls throwing a hissy fit in the House of Commons, but they couldn't show it. British broadcasters are not allowed to show clips from the House of Commons for satire purposes... John Stewart on The Daily Show is.

      If Channel 4 actually broadcast it, I could understand, but they don't and yet the UK residents can't watch it on-line without a proxy.

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

        How the hell can I watch The Daily Show now?

        Turn off the filter?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

        You don't need a proxy to watch The Daily Show, you just need to re-write some headers:

        http://xtremisreaction.wordpress.com/2011/01/08/how-to-watch-the-daily-show-with-jon-stewart-in-the-uk/

      3. Maharg
        Facepalm

        Re: how to watch the Daily Show int he UK

        Step 1 Turn on the TV

        Step 2 Go to the channel 128 on Sky, or 182 on Virgin

        Step 3 notice its called Comedy Central Extra, make a note of that.

        Step 4 Watch the Daily show at either 11pm or repeated at 3am

        Step 5 Enjoy

        Step 6 (optional) Set up a series link so you can watch it in your own time.

        1. Crisp Silver badge

          Re: how to watch the Daily Show int he UK

          Bugger. I failed step 1. No TV.

          1. Maharg
            Facepalm

            Re: how to watch the Daily Show int he UK

            Don’t own a TV? Well, then you can’t really complain about not being able to watch a particular TV show can you?

            Stuff is not free, you buy a TV, pay the licence, get Sky, Virgin, whatever, pay for that, and you can watch the TV show, if you don’t want to pay for these things then you don’t get the end result, its pretty simple, the Daily Show is not free to make, it’s not a hobby, it’s not a right, people have to make money from it to have the incentive to show it on their channel.

            The BBC can show TV programs on the interwebs because they get the money anyway, Channel 4 limits what it shows and advertises the balls out of it, and ITV, well, I don’t think I have watched anything other than football on ITV so god knows what they do.

            You want something, more often than not you have to pay for it.

            I don’t own a Playstaion or an Xbox, yet I don’t complain about not being able to play Grand Theft Auto 5.

            1. Crisp Silver badge

              @Maharg

              I pay my Virgin Media bill every month. And in that bill I get the basic TV package bundled in.

              Even though I just want internet access.

              So I'm paying for it anyway. Even though I don't watch it.

              1. Maharg

                Re: @Maharg

                Why are you paying for Virgin TV if you don’t have a TV? It can’t be cheaper than getting a phone line and internet connection from somewhere else?

                Nip down to a British heart foundation charity shop, if you don’t mind the fact its not flat screen you can pick up a decent TV for about £20, then you can watch the TV and have donated some money to a good cause at the same time. Win Win.

        2. MJI Silver badge

          Re: how to watch the Daily Show int he UK

          And what is it on Freesat and Freeview?

    2. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      Too right, the only discussion about these filters has been about porn, and "Do it yourself or we will legislate" from the government.

      This gives us this situation, where BT has decided (almost certainly with assistance from the various moral crusaders) that these things are also verboten:

      Discussion of illegal drugs

      Discussion of suicide

      Because, obviously, if little Johnny can google "heroin", how much longer before he is injecting it in his eyeballs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      "What will be blocked next?"

      Whatever you tell it to. It does have an on/off switch.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

        " It does have an on/off switch."

        ...for now...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

          " It does have an on/off switch."

          So long as enough of us insist on switching it off.

          1. WonkoTheSane
            Thumb Up

            Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

            @AC10:31 " It does have an on/off switch."

            @AC11:21 "Until enough of us insist on switching it off."

            FTFY

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

          " It does have an on/off switch."

          .. and a logger

      2. paulc

        Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

        and how sure can you be that you are getting everything passed through when you've supposedly opted-out of the filter?

      3. Mike Richards Silver badge

        Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

        'Whatever you tell it to. '

        Trans: Whatever the people with money tell it to.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      Sites critical of Phorm, Deep packet Inspection and Behavioural Advertising, for starters.

      Plus any site that lists BT's repeated disingenuous utterances, like:

      * BT has "better performance" for up to 16Mb customers than Sky or TalkTalk

      (from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/12/04/asa_bt_bskyb/)

      * fibre optic Infinity already available throughout Manchester

      (from http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/11/13/bt_manchester_infinity_ad_slapped_by_asa/)

      * Oh, no, fewer people are complaining than ever before

      (From http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/03/12/Kelly_Fiveash_BT_engineers_missed_appointments/)

      * BT's "six-month free broadband"

      (From http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/2/2013/01/16/bt_asa_ruling_line_rental/)

      * No, we've never intercepted web traffic

      (from http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/01/16/bt_asa_ruling_line_rental/

      * No, we've never had anything to do with DPI

      (from http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/01/16/bt_asa_ruling_line_rental/

      * No, we'd never do something like impose behavioural advertising trial on our customers without asking them first.

      (from http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/01/16/bt_asa_ruling_line_rental/

      * No, it MUST be your PC

      (from http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/01/16/bt_asa_ruling_line_rental/

      * No, we're not scamming prices.

      (from http://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2013/01/16/bt_asa_ruling_line_rental/

      In fact, El Reg and BT's own forums will probably disappear from T'Internet

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      "What will be blocked next?"

      Anything that displeases our wonderful thought controlling overlords.

      1. Mr Shouty

        Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

        Or the daily fail^H^H^H^Hmail readers.

    6. Amorous Cowherder
      WTF?

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      Anything the chattering, middle-Englander, MumsNet types want taken off in case it offends little Jocasta or Tarquin. Meanwhile Daddy is happily taking down the personal blocks so he can look for S&M sites and clubs to visit.

    7. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      My guess translation sites, as they can be used like a proxy.

    8. El Andy
      Joke

      Re: Censorship is alive and well in Britian

      "What will be blocked next?"

      Any site carrying Nickleback music?

      Well someone has got to hope for a silver lining to this cloud....

  3. Mephistro Silver badge
    WTF?

    Seriously?

    The filter "doesn't block VPN connections, but does prevent access to sites promoting the use of proxies and annonymisers [sic],"

    A perfect example of how 'porn censorship' expands to fill other niches, like censoring technology and censoring privacy protecting tools. Political censorship is only a short step ahead.

    In a sane world, BT should be losing thousands of customers every day, because of this.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      In a sane world, BT should be losing thousands of customers every day, because of this.

      Indeed, although given most of the major ISPs are also towing the same line, it's almost as difficult to find a suitable ISP as finding a politcal party worth voting for. Maybe this could be a nice niche for an enterprising new provider to make an ISP that's specifically not controlled or meddled with (I know, it's even more of a pipe-dream than a party worth voting for).

      Personally I just wonder how long the off switch will remain available, and whether it'll be spring-loaded to go into the "on" setting at the drop of a hat (in the same way that Talktalk's homesafe filter seems to be).

      But of course also in the same sane world we'd have some suitable filter to protect us from Whitehall meddling too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seriously?

        "nice niche for an enterprising new provider"

        How about a niche for a trustworthy well-established provider?

        Andrews+Arnold, aka AAISP, have a well-documented position on these matters, and their relationship with BT in general is also well documented. There's the usual corporate website at aaisp.net, and then the gory details are on the personal website of one of the directors, the Revd Adrian Kennard, at revk.www.me.uk. Assuming they've not already been blocked, of course.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seriously?

        Pedant. Actually AC 10:20 they are TOEING the line.

        Other than that I agree with you.

        1. IglooDude

          Re: Seriously?

          No, he really does mean towing - as in, dragging the line further and further towards increased censorship and centralized nannyism.

          1. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

            Re: Seriously?

            To be honest, actually encouraging as much feature creep as possible is entirely the right thing to do, since this will force Joe Public to learn all about how to get around said filters and how the government are a bunch of techno-illiterate numpties. So, bring on the Orwellian censorship, bring on the mumsnet-inspired wuckfittery, and bring on the "for the childrun!!1!" smothering censorship.

            The population needs a lesson on why getting what you asked for is a bad thing.

          2. Kennedy

            Re: Seriously?

            No, first someone draws a line in the sand. Then they challenge you to defy them by crossing it, or to submit to their authority by toeing the line (putting the toes of your boots up to it but no further).

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Wize

      Re: Seriously?

      "In a sane world, BT should be losing thousands of customers every day, because of this."

      Trouble is, how many members of the public know/understand what is happening.

      We are all technically minded, but the average Joe Public isn't. Most of them won't even know what a proxy server is, never mind how to use one.

      And its all being sold as a way of protecting children. How is the average guy, opposed to the way censorship is heading, explain to their wife that they need to switch providers to complain about the porn filter without it sounding like he wants the filter turned off so he can see porn?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seriously?

        "How is the average guy, opposed to the way censorship is heading, explain to their wife"

        Presumably the hypothetical bloke could just grow a pair and explain the reasoning behind his decision.

        1. Suricou Raven

          Re: Seriously?

          "Presumably the hypothetical bloke could just grow a pair and explain the reasoning behind his decision."

          You're not married, are you?

        2. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

          Re: Seriously?

          The average bloke in this country no longer has balls. They have TV adverts telling us how useless men are. There is one where the wife does not allow the man a house key. She and her friends are sitting inside laughing because he is outside and has missed the curfew. Can you imagine an advert being shown where the man treats the woman this way? This is how deep in the psyche this mind warping social engineering has gone.

          Men are seen either as harmless sports loving fools or sick perverts and not much in between unless they are pretty.

          Men should grow some balls. Dare they?

          1. DragonLord

            Re: Seriously?

            What company is that advert for so that I can avoid it in future?

      2. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Seriously?

        Like I did.

        Messing up the internet, may not be able to connect to the office, false positives, health sites ect.

        And that they do not block the sites you do want blocked such are virus and phishing

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Seriously?

      It gets worse.

      ISPs which are reselling BT or TT wholesale services are forced behind thiese filters too.

  4. Phil W

    To not be self-defeating

    They really have to block the sites solely to devoted to obvious ways to work around the filter system, otherwise it's kind of pointless implementing it. There's a fine line between blocking obvious and well known proxy web sites and restricting or blocking VPNs. So far they're on the right side of that line, how long that will last....who knows?

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: To not be self-defeating

      What makes you think it's not pointless anyway? If someone is actively trying to subvert the filter, it isn't going to pose much of a problem. Just ask anyone who actually maintains a filter professionally how often they need to revise rules because someone spent half an hour googling synonyms and found a site that slipped through.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: To not be self-defeating

      Sorry Phil but had to downvote, as you appear to have fallen for Content Mafia and Big Brothers plausible deniability line.

    3. John 48

      Re: To not be self-defeating

      So by one of us simply pointing out how to change your computer or router to use OpenDNS or Google's DNS servers here in a comment, the comments section of theregister, or possibly the whole site must by extension also be banned?

      Pretty nifty way to take out any site that you fancy huh?

      1. Haku

        Re: Pretty nifty way to take out any site that you fancy huh?

        Some people will see that as a game / challenge, see how many innocent sites they can get put on the naughty list by posting innocuous comments/links/pictures that at face value are not 'bad' but do trigger the naughty list filter.

        1. MrXavia

          Re: Pretty nifty way to take out any site that you fancy huh?

          I think that it is a must to get mumsnet blocked!

          1. Irongut

            Re: Pretty nifty way to take out any site that you fancy huh?

            I'd put the Tory party and gov websites top of the list but mumsnet would be straight after.

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