back to article UK.gov's web filtering mission creep: Now it plans to block 'extremist' websites

Whitehall is carefully floating plans that might result in ISPs being forced to start blocking "extremist" websites. The first hint reached us in October, when the Premier – basking in what he believed to be a victory against the ubiquity of smutty websites, with big name ISPs set to bring in network-level filters – told …

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        1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

          Re: "extremist"

          @AC : 19:13

          Can Lancashire join you? The people in power think London is a separate country.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "extremist"

            Lancashire (well the north) was offered a regional assembly, we said no.

            1. Graham Dawson

              Re: "extremist"

              A "regional assembly" that would have added nothing except another layer of bureaucracy, justified the removal of yet more power from the local councils, and been funded entirely from whitehall, thus making it entirely beholden to the national government anyway. Disenfranchising the people and stealing more power to the centre of the state does not make a more independent or representative government.

          2. M Gale

            Re: "extremist"

            Can Lancashire join you? The people in power think London is a separate country.

            In my experience, the people in Lancashire think that London is a separate country, and extends North as far as Birmingham.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "extremist"

      It is not 'Game over' until the SNP are on the list. I had some SNP fanboi slagging me off somthing rotten because as a Sassenach living in Old Reekie I'll get to vote next year.

      He hated me because I was English. No matter that my Wife is Scottish. He called her a traitor to the cause.

      Well Mr Salmond, if for some chance you manage to get the note through and you get your wish, I will relocate my business to somewhere more welcoming like Swansea. You will lose more than 40 skilled jobs in the east End of Edinburgh.

    2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: "extremist"

      While I'm in agreement with your concern about escalation, I find it hard to see banning UKIP as 'game over'. I don't think they'll be missed .. I've almost forgotten them already.

  1. Miek
    Linux

    " “Parents need to think about putting filters on their accounts and finding out more about keeping children safe online."" -- Not any more they don't ... Nanny-Net to the rescue.

    1. Charles Manning

      "“Parents need to think".

      No more. No thinking allowed!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    first they came for the extremists

    and we did nothing, because we don't like extremists, do we?

    Then they came for the excremists

    And we did nothing, because we thought they can't type

    Then they came for the "extremists" and "excremists"

    And we did nothing, because we thought they have a short-memory loss combined with extreme case of invertedcommaism

    Then they came for the rest of us, and said its for our own good

    And we bent over and let them take us from all sides

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: first they came for the extremists

      er... technically speaking, they can't take you from "all sides" if you bend over (don't ask me how I know this). That said, bending over does open a possibility otherwise unavailable...

      Oh dear, this is what our beloved Prime Minister meant, see? Filthy, filthy minds! We must cleanse them with fire, I say!

      1. BongoJoe

        Re: first they came for the extremists

        Oh, give them a Black & Decker and they will be able. You can almost hear the screams from Room 101 from here...

  3. Queeg

    "[B]y the end of 2014 all existing customers will have been presented with an unavoidable choice about installing family friendly content filters which the user will not be able to skip,"

    I wonder if the filter options will be..

    O Yes please filter my interwebs and give me a completely false sense of security as I am a complete twonk when having to make decisions affecting my family.

    O No I am an adult and can monitor my children's internet activity myself.

    O Ferk Off! and mind your own bloody business.

    No prize for guessing which I'd go for.

    1. VinceH
      Big Brother

      The second two options are incorrect. They will be one single option: "Add me to the dodgy list" - though it might not use those words.

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

        More like "YES I am a disgusting perv who is not to be trusted around decent citizens!"

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Which could read...

          "YES, I am a Tory MP, my deviance is a given and I want access to my niche interests"

    2. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      [B]y the end of 2014 all existing customers will have been presented with an unavoidable choice

      So inavoidable that I bet most of those here won't even see it. Everything else BT try to make 'inavoidable' seems to be done with DNS hackery. Means I'll likely never be given the choice to take option 3

      1. Tom Chiverton 1

        Indeed. I just asked my normally privacy and rights upholding ISP (Zen) the same question. Hopefully I can just stop using their (will be broken) DNS and bypass the prompt.

        Remote sites are going to be a bit more high risk - at some time X all their remote access will vanish ?

    3. Gerardo McFitzpatrick-O'Toole

      I'll wager that it will be a case of

      a) Yes please, I would love you to filter my internets.

      b) No thank you, I have a reason to want to access harmful material (and understand that this will be interpreted as a risk factor for me becoming a Sex Offender, and that information of my opt-out will be made publicly available in the community for the purposes of crime prevention, community cohesion, and Child Safety).

  4. Vimes

    The DCMS claimed that kids fondling slabs would now be better protected about the supposed evils of sex and violence lurking online.

    ...unless they use their slabs on networks with the filters switched off.

    Which is why securing the device will always be better than securing the network (and don't fool yourself into thinking that there aren't ways around the filter either - it's already been done).

    It feels sometimes like some parents would rather offload the effort onto others. Scared of of technology? Then get the ISP to sort it out. Can't/won't talk to your children about sex? Then get the school to do it (and then complain when they get it wrong). The list goes on...

  5. Pete 2

    Bedtime stories

    "to counter the extremist narrative ...

    In my inexpert view (I've never met an extremist, and would probably just think: nutter, if I ever did) it seems that the best way to neutralise the views they hold, is to make "our" stories better than theirs.

    If you spend a large amount of your formative youth hearing about how bad the west is, how morally bankrupt we all are and that our whole society is venal, ungodly and otherwise damned - then the best defence would be a charm offensive instead of confirming their worst fears by raining down firey death on anything that happens to bear a passing resemblance to the CIA's Most Wanted list.

    Maybe our lot should be out there with stories about how caring we are, how we all love small furry animals and our mothers. That we have a highly charitable society that doesn't want to screw over the rest of the world and that, best of all, we'll open some Pizza Express and Starbucks in their towns, too. Maybe even a Hooters in their capitals? So that their leaders can "know thine enemy"?

    Then, once their children can see all the good things we have to offer, just like their communist counterparts did a generation ago, all the hate, fear and insecurity will evaporate. Instead of bombing the crap out of their villages, we'll parachute in washing machines, Playboy, waffle-makers and icecream instead.

    Make them just as dumb, fat and happy as the rest of us.

    1. Tom Chiverton 1

      Re: Bedtime stories

      Indeed. The best counter to hate speech is more speech.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Joke

        Re: Bedtime stories

        No, it's not. It's more HATE, goddamnit.

    2. kwhitefoot

      Re: Bedtime stories

      I have a vague memory of a story about a parachute drop that starts as though one of the characters is a peacenik conscript and he is objecting to the dropping of bombs or agent orange but it turns out that what they are dropping is toilets and the hardbitten professional marine is the good guy; Robert Heinlein I think.

  6. Bluenose

    I have a problem

    And it really is a simple one. I have no desire to tell my ISP whether I want to access porn or not. I know they can tell by watching where I go on the net but that is allegedly illegal since it is a breach of my rights to privacy and if they say anything I intend to sue. However, if I refuse to say yes or no to the filters will I be able to access the internet. If not I wonder if that constitutes a breach of contract.

    Now they are saying that the same filters that will block access to Porn will be used to block access to sites which are extremist but no one has defined what constitutes extremist of course most people in the UK will think that they are talking about Muslim jihadi sites but being of Irish descent I wonder if they will also block sites that call for British decolonisation of Norther Ireland or how about Argentinian sites that call for the Falklands/Malvinas to be handed back (as if they had them before) Argentina.

    If these things come to pass, then I for one will sue my ISP for refusing me access to the service I am buying by implementing things that I do prevent me making use of that service.

    1. Dick Emery

      Re: I have a problem

      Anyone who does not answer will be put onto the filter by default.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I have a problem

      you can't sit on the fence. You're either a porn-addict (at best), and peado-terrorist deep inside you at worst, and you WILL declare your filthy true nature! OR - you are a good, tax-paying, law-abiding, tory-cum-labour voting citizen. If you can't decide, or won't, it shall be decided for you. Remember, the default for the filters is "on". There you go, good citizen, sit!

    3. RoninRodent

      Re: I have a problem

      > However, if I refuse to say yes or no to the filters will I be able to access the internet.

      The filters will default to on as pushed for by Cameron. Say nothing and you get the "Government approved" sites only.

      > Now they are saying that the same filters that will block access to Porn will be used to block access to sites which are extremist but no one has defined what constitutes extremist

      This is the entire point. They won't classify it because then they can add whatever they want to the block list and nobody can say "that doesn't follow your rules". You can't see what is on the list and presumably if your site ends up on the block list you have nobody you can appeal to to get the block lifted.

      The original proposals were just about porn but later stories mentioned violence, drugs, tobacco, alcohol and a whole bunch of other stuff. I am not fooling myself into thinking that once the block goes in that all of that and more will be blocked.

      > If these things come to pass, then I for one will sue my ISP for refusing me access to the service

      They will have no choice but to change their terms and conditions as the ISPs are not in control of the block list. They have no more control over it than you do.

      1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: I have a problem

        ISTR that they didn't have to default to ON, merely pretend that they did in order to avoid Cameron looking (even more) stupid.

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/07/16/prime_minister_demands_default_on_filtering_from_isps/

    4. Lyndon Hills 1

      Re: I have a problem

      It reminds me of the 80's when members of Sinn Féin were not allowed to be heard speaking on television.

      'Denying terrorists the oxygen of publicity', it was called.

      1. Naughtyhorse

        Re: I have a problem

        Beautifully captured on the day today

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nvfQw8UCDE

    5. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

      Re: I have a problem

      Not to forget the Tories considered Nelson Mandela to be a terrorist, so there you go.

  7. Frankee Llonnygog

    The pilot's already started

    Successfully tested by the UK Government's blocking of access to past speeches by the Conservative Party. Thank goodness we no longer have access to those vile incitements to acts of hate and terror

    1. N2 Silver badge

      Re: The pilot's already started

      "The pilot's already started" ?

      I dont think you are ready for take off, surely you mean 'plot'

  8. IT Hack

    Are we really surprised?

    I mean it really takes an idiot of epic proportions to really consider this stupidity as a realistic proposition.

    Thankfully we have a pretty decent judiciary that will laugh this out of the statue books...just like they did the entire us going to war against Iraq thing...

    Oh wait...shit!

    We're boned.

    1. codejunky Silver badge

      Re: Are we really surprised?

      We might be boned but it will be blocked from the interwebs

      1. IT Hack

        Re: Are we really surprised?

        @ codejunky

        Looks that way.

        Well...I'd say that but I'm not sure we're allowed to look at anything not gov approved...

        I reckon its about time that ever good and decent Britisher gets a good sized trout (or any other suitable form of fish) and marches on Parliament for a good round of smack the fish upside a moronic politicians head.

        Two hits in one swing gets bonus points.

        When are the lazy bastards next in session?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Not too impressed

    "... counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites."

    It seems to me that instituting a process by which ISPs will block online sites at the behest of a representative of the government is showing the extremists and their potential followers that their ideas are quite effective.

    How do you counter a narrative by blocking it? Surely you do it by speaking out against the nonsense that the extremists are spouting?

  10. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    @ Bluenose...

    "If these things come to pass, then I for one will sue my ISP for refusing me access to the service I am buying by implementing things that I do prevent me making use of that service."

    Be sure to let us know how that works out for you.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Let's call it

    The Great Wall of Great Britain (a cheap knockoff of something made in China)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let's call it

      And built by Huawei, of course...!

    2. Eddy Ito Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Let's call it

      Beat me to it. On the plusgood side, once prolefeed is fullwise pre-filtered of oldspeak at least you persons on Airstrip One will be free from worry about the thinkpol telescreening your newspeak like the rest of us in Oceania.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Friday feeling

    Yesterday, Newsnight ran an item about apostasy (leaving your religion), in which an Islamic "scholar" put forward his view that this was like treason and hence deserved capital punishment.

    What on earth is the point in banning websites when your aspiring jihadi can just go down to the mosque on Friday and get his indoctrination first hand?

    Doesn't anyone in the Government remember the USSR samizdat literature? Even if you could effectively censor the web, stuff would simply get passed round on USB sticks or whatever.

    Like the smut filters, it's pure posturing for Daily Mail readers.

    1. Irongut

      Re: Friday feeling

      USB sticks, now there's a thought... I wonder if teenagers of the future will find USB sticks of porn in the woods like we found copies of Men Only in my day.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    icon appropriate

    Where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who's to blame? Well, certainly, there are those who are more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn't be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Re: icon appropriate

      Divide and conquer – a mainstay of the British establishment since your kingdom was lost to foreign invaders. Sorry, that government merely exercises the will of the people is popular fiction – how is that EU referendum going or windmill farms or mass immigration? There are agenda's at play and the man in the street has little control over the apparatus of government and almost zero influence on the decision making processes. There is an enemy, it is within but it is not us.

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  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Creeping scope...

    Creeping scope...

    ISPs can hijack outbound (from you) DNS queries, so using OpenDNS etc becomes a problem.

    So you could use DNSCrypt, or a VPN, unless they manage to MITM that, or engage DPI and block that too (just wait for it...)

    And what happens when a household who HAS blocked it has a technically competent teen who gets around it, visits something dodgy and the vans arrive? I'd love to see the T's & C's on the filter which will invariably have tiny print along the lines of "Can't guarantee to block it all, but we will still report you should your connection do anything untoward, and this blocking service is no protection to you in a court of law".

    Personally, given the fact the "blacklists" will be classified and you know full well that 'quite a lot' of legitimate content will suddenly get labeled as 'extreme' or 'inappropriate' (I predict the Labour website will vanish if the coalition stay in power!), I intend to keep the filters off and run my own filtering, until such time as it becomes too onerous and/or impossible.

    1. Vimes

      Re: Creeping scope...

      I seem to recall a spectator in one of the Labour conferences being arrested under anti-terrorist legislation.

      His heinous crime? Daring to boo Jack Straw.

      You can imagine the fun that the authorities will have with this...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Creeping scope...

        Well fortunately we won't have to see that sort of thing happening anymore

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