" for example, when a website has been wrongly categorised and added to a blacklist"
If you tell them a site needs to be unblocked is there any process that compels them to unblock?
Inevitably, as network-level filters are switched on by Britain's biggest telcos, reports are suggesting that the systems are wrongly blocking sex education websites. BSkyB, BT and TalkTalk have each said publicly and repeatedly that the technology is not perfect and relies on interaction from parents who want to protect their …
"If you tell them a site needs to be unblocked is there any process that compels them to unblock?"
There's no point in any such process if the punters access via filtered connections exclusively (quite likely if they are on by default), because they will never be able to see the filtered sites to know that they exist *and* they are wrongly blacklisted in the first place...
For those people that *do* have access to unfiltered connections my guess is that most people would simply access them via their unfiltered connection rather than waste time fighting bureaucrats...
"We already have the same situation with sites being blocked from mobile networks, so we know how mobile telcos respond to complaints about sites being wrongfully blocked."
IN summary: They don't.
Tmobile is STILL blocking the Saracens Rugby Club website 5 years after I reported it as a false positive.
You've missed the point.
There may be some parents who want to have a filtered connection, but would like sites specifically set up for teenage sexual-health issues to be allowed, because giving a reliable source of good advice is much better than learning in the playground/behind the bike shed (or wherever teenagers hang out now).
From the article, it is these sites that have been incorrectly blocked, so parents with that mindset would not just turn the filters off because it would allow much worse through.
Quite often, sources of good information are publicised in doctors surgeries, libraries, and sex education classes at school. That is how the sites get known. Whether the blocks are spotted depends entirely on whether they are blocked silently, or whether it banners a message You've been spotted trying to access a filthy site. Desist, or tremble in your shoes while we tell the account owner!
Fortunately for me, the last minor in the house turns 18 in January, so I will just turn the block off when I get told how, not that I was overly worried in the first place.
"You've missed the point."
No, I don't think I did because I am quite well aware of the issues you raise and I don't feel the need to dip my oar in on those points already well made by the article. My facetious post was pointing out that quite often users (and indeed sites) could be completely unaware that filtering was going on in the first place.
I think YOU miss the point.
There is NO substiute for parental supervision. Fullstop, end of story.
Filters miss stuff, which is going to upset little 6yo Johnny when he sees porn.
Filters are easily subverted, which is going to delight him and give him a nice game to play 5 years later when he starts wanting to go Beaverhunting.
And filters won't help one iota in defending against nasty icky Jimmy Saville types performing online grooming of little Johnny when he's 8 years old.
In fact I'd argue that these filters play into the hands of predators, by fooling parents into being less vigilant.
Things people don't like to think/talk about:
1: About 1/3 of sexual offenders are under 18
2: At least 3/4 of offending against children happens within the family or immediate circle of family friends
3: Roughly half of all sexual offences against children are committed by women.
4: Very few children will tell their parents about such activities because they feel they won't be believed and the older they get the less likely they are to speak up about it.
Think about that next time your grandkids are snuggling in grandma's lap and see if you still feel comfortable about letting your 14yo niece babysit your 7yo son.
One could argue that the agenda behind these filters is the enablement of further child abuse by engendering a false sense of security amongst the sheeple.
I don't believe in filters as a substitute for responsible parenting. Our household has been connected for over a decade with wireless, and computers that the kids use exclusively (i.e. I don't) for much of that time. For the last 5 years or so, everyone in the house has had their own system that they control. (except my wife. She wants someone else to fix hers when it is apparently broken).
What I do have is a firewall that logs all the URLs that are visited. I told my kids when they were younger that I was not going to put any filters, blocks or parental controls on what came into the house. But I did say that I could see most of what they were doing if I had cause to, although I would not under normal circumstances. As far as I can tell (and I have looked for signs of them using proxy or anonymising services) they have never attempted to hide what they are doing.
We (my wife and I) also have an open policy that if there is anything they are worried about, be it viruses, health issues or inappropriate material, that they could always talk to us to discuss it without any recriminations. And of course, they can talk to each other about similar issues. It has not always worked, I believe that my oldest son was the recipient of non-physical bullying, which he said nothing to us about at the time. But we try.
I hope that my kids are well adjusted, and have acquired a knowledge of where to draw the line about what is appropriate.
That is my attitude, and my responsibility. I know that there are others out there who welcome the additional controls. That is their decision, and I accept that there are valid reasons why they may want that. And having a filtered internet feed does have a place for people who cannot ensure that their systems are suitably protected. It's just another (justified, in their eyes) brick in the wall. It really is the case that even quite knowledgeable people can't be totally sure that the systems in their house are protected to the degree that they would like. Computers are just too complicated for anybody but the most technically able to protect, especially the 'sheeple' you are talking about.
This means that I agree that parents need to take responsibility. But I'm not going to suggest that kids should only use computers under adult supervision, at least not once they reach an age where the parents would trust them to be out on their own, for example. That way leads to young people who will go to extraordinary lengths to get out from what they will see as over-controlling parents. Trust is important.
Your arguments risk descending into the realms of wrapping kids up in cotton wool that results not in well-adjusted members of society, but into a world where these kids, when grown up, do not want to take their own decisions. I've seen the results of over-protective parenting, and it often leads to behaviour as bad or worse than kids given free reign..
It's a complex and difficult area that will always have winners and losers, fans and critics, whatever is done. There is no winning solution, just a choice between less-bad ones.
That's nonsensical. If I use a website regularly, or follow links from a trusted website to another site, then suddenly I can't get at it because of the filter, *of course* I know the site exists and will need to ask it to be unblocked.
Incidentally I have much experience of such things having a filtered connection at work, and legitimate reasons for occasionally requesting an unblock. So the original question is a good one, and I'd like to know the answer.
"If I use a website regularly, or follow links from a trusted website to another site, then suddenly I can't get at it because of the filter, *of course* I know the site exists and will need to ask it to be unblocked."
In this example you have a-priori knowledge that the site exists and what kind of content it has, so you have enough knowledge and experience to file a complaint/request to unblock the site in question.
Now consider the case where you are trying to get to a brand new site you've never heard of before and the site has been black-hole routed by the BOFH implementing the filters. For all you know the site is down/offline, and in those cases I suspect the majority of Joe Public out there will shrug their shoulders and move on to something else that isn't on the wrong end of a black hole route.
"Incidentally I have much experience of such things having a filtered connection at work, and legitimate reasons for occasionally requesting an unblock. So the original question is a good one, and I'd like to know the answer."
Same here on both of those points.
Yes. The courts. Take the ISP and OfCom to court siting Restraint of trade especially if your organistation is in receipt of Government Funding. There are also a good few EU rules that these filters break.
You should be able to get an interim judgement unblocking your site pretty easily.
Any legal and legit business must be able to get redress from the courts. At least the UK seems to obey EU rulings unlike les Froggies who ignore pretty well every judgment that goes against them with a Gallic Shrug/Meh!
To be fair to BT, this is arguably a reasonable control to prevent the filter from being bypassed, so it is still "protecting the children". And the bottom line is - it's still optional and you can opt out if you don't like it, so it's not strictly censorship. NB. It still sucks big time.
There are lots of things that can be used the same way. Translation sites, wayback machine...
Are you going to block a site about brest feeding babies? or cancer info site? If they want moms to tell them what to block, what mom gets to pick? Is it going to be a vote?
The filters are very blunt tools.
> So already it's being used for blocking other sites which have nothing to do with 'protecting the children' and I wonder how many other sites will be included.
Currently if a big media company wants to shut down a torrent site they have to slog through the courts to gain a pretty worthless blocking order.
The torrent site can now be classified and blocked as "objectionable" with a quick call to the ISP.
This makes things much quicker and transfers all the risk and costs to the ISP and their customers; it's up to the site operator to take the ISP to court in order to get unblocked.
If we all use the system to tell the ISPs that the dailyfail website is smut that should be blocked, it might well happen. Then you would face the awkward decision to prevent your kids from accessing such a mind altering and harmful website, or allow them an unfiltered connection.
I'm assuming that as well as a mechanism for telling them that they've wrongly blocked a site, there should be one for telling them there's one they've missed?
Maybe with enough complaints about the filth that the Mail Online publishes whilst hypocritically railing against much less pernicious stuff might get it blocked.
Whilst I love the term "noncebait sidebar of shame", I am proud to admit I have no idea what is being referred to. There is nothing that would make me visit that site at all, this side of a personality-changing brain tumour.
At least Porn is honest about what it is. The Daily Mail and its nonceing sidebar is stunning for the way it can have a "Think Of The Children" article on the page with its nonceing links on the side bar. Certainly need it added to the banned list. Along with Mumsnet as there are plenty of threads in their forums of an extreme sexual nature.
To be fair, much as I hate it, cognitive dissonance is not unique to the Daily Mail. The Guardian is capable of having an article about global warming on P3, long haul travel porn in its travel section, articles about the plight of sweatshop workers in the main section and lashings of women's clothes advertorial in the Weekend.
The only newspapers I know of which are internally consistent are Liberation and the Morning Star.
So how are these filters switched on/off? Is there just a switch on the account pages on the website? Or do you have to phone them up and ask them to turn it on/off. If it's the latter I can't see myself agreeing to have it enabled when Virgin Media bring theirs in. If it's easily switchable on the website then it might have some uses - even better if you could have your own whitelist of sites which they block by default but which you'd like to allow.
I spent half an hour looking on the BT website last night and couldn't find any settings anywhere. When they get around in a few months to asking my preference on filters (as a long-standing customer), perhaps there will be an obvious way to TURN THE FECKING THING OFF.
On Sky it's on the "MySky" web account management pages, a basic filter with 3 categories "PG" (no porn, social media, hate speech, drugs etc.), "13" (same but allows Social media) and "18" (no filtering)
There's no need to phone an operator and do a Partridge impression: "Can you get porn on my telly please?" :)
If you use OpenDNS (18.104.22.168 from memory) then you can choose to have them not resolve certain categories of sites for your connection, or give it a blacklist. This is probably the road I'd go down if I ever had kids in the house that needed blocking, it's pretty flexible, with the only downside that you'll have to decided what to block/allow yourself rather than letting the government decide what your kids should be allowed to look at.
That said, there's no way on the Virgin hub to change the default DNS, so you'd have to use it in modem mode and use a separate router, or set the DNS on each device individually.
Where can I check this list to see if a site is 'incorrectly' labelled because my ISP don't like it. Want to access Talk Talk from a Virgin connection - oops we thought it was porn. Or as is expected would we have to attempt to access a site with the ensuing flashing lights and horns because some idiot didn't realise www.big'n'bouncy.org is a trampolining website.
PC Pro magazine, in mid 2012, did an article on the effectiveness or otherwise of various web filtering packages on various classes of potentially contentious material, and by far the longest list (provided as a downloadable file on their website) was that of porn sites. Unexpected, that...
You just wait you lot, luckily we got ours thrown out (Australia), but when the time comes for ofcom to make their report, and it turns out that only 20 or so percent of households actually have it turned on , there will be a hue and cry from the "think of the children" brigade along the lines of, "it's not effectively protecting the children because so many irresponsible parents have turned it off, so it MUST be made compulsory".
Popcorn and pepsi waiting for the show!
I think it would go the other way?
If 80% of people have made the active decision to switch OFF the filter, it is extremely unlikely that Cameron (or whoever) would want to upset that many voters by trying to force people to accept it.
If it was 50:50, then there would be more chance of legislation ("to force the few remaining"). And the worse the ratio, the greater the chance.
People should opt-out. I reckon the more that do, the less chance of it going any further
The same could be said if 80% of people left a filtered ISP for a non-filtered ISP.
(though you are right, I think; there will be some upset lobbyists and activates crying and wailing if there was a mass opt-out ... which would be a shame, obviously)
I wonder if there's a way people could be encouraged to opt out and also sign up on a website to indicate that they have opted out as a matter of principle, and wish the government to butt out of their lives.
Perhaps by creating such a list using the e-petitions site so handily provided by the Government...
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