back to article BT tweaks WORDING of sex-ed web block after complaints

BT has adjusted the wording of one of its web-filtering categories, following The Register's story late on Friday when the telecoms giant admitted that UK parents who don't want their kids to seek advice about their sexuality online could block access over its network. However, while BT continues to offer that control to its …

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  1. Vimes

    WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

    1. John Bailey

      RE:WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

      hbivklli;lo;lfeshuohfipewopew0-weojefpoj n oiefhw9iuewedq0909uoionrvporjuf

      1. Phil W

        Re: RE:WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

        Outstanding response sir. Have a rusk.

        1. John Bailey

          Re: RE:WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

          Cheers.. I'll smear it on the wall after I finish setting up this VPN.

      2. j.desu
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: RE:WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

        Wow, fantastic.... I needed that laugh!

    2. mmiied

      Re: RE:WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

      commenting on el-reg?

      1. Robin Bradshaw

        Re: RE:WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

        commenting on youtube

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: RE:WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???

          Bypassing the filters and uploading videos of their mom to xHamster

    3. Terry Cloth

      Seriously. The only computer our daughter had access to at home was a desktop in the living room, with the screen placed so anyone walking by could see it. She didn't get her own until she was seventeen, by which time we were pretty happy with her surfing habits. But then, I'm a crusty old fart who doesn't mind child abuse of this nature, as opposed to those who think a laptop in the bedroom is just the thing for a fifth birthday.

      And, yes, her Internet access was unfiltered on the same principle that if she played outside with a bunch of friends, she'd be immune to pretty much everything in short order.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "WTF are toddlers doing using the internet unsupervised???"

      My disabled toddler uses an iPad as a communication tool at the times when he's finding speech difficult. It needs Internet connectivity to work. He uses iPlayer and YouTube and Skype as well as his specialist apps. It's a permanent companion, we can't supervise him constantly.

      We use browser security to keep him away from things he shouldn't see - but I can see why this would be useful for some situations. It's probably not an option most parents will need, but some will - and it's not actually compulsory. Why deny it to people who do need it?

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

        Why deny it to people who do need it?

        Quite right, but why force it on everyone when a few need it?

        Not had the 'choice' screen come up yet. But when it does it'll be going off.

        I've got a toddler, and the only time he gets on the net is when he's sat on my lap (or hits an ad in Angry birds). Filtering/censorship is a parental role, so when the time comes I'll set up my own filters rather than expecting the Government to force it on everyone, and certainly well before I ever expect the Telco's to implement filters that get it almost right.

        I can see why some people might find this kind of filtering helpful, but it should have been an opt-in choice rather than a 'lets turn it on for all' choice.

        We're all going to pay for a filter that most of us don't want. As connection speeds increase, the capabilities of the nannynet system are going to need to improve as well to handle increased traffic. That either means our bills go up, or we get sold lower speeds (so pay more for less). The system could have been just as well implemented as a £5 a month add-on for those who want/need it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Quite right, but why force it on everyone when a few need it?"

          My understanding is that it's not forced on everyone. This is separate to the porn filter, these are additional parental controls that can be turned on by parents, if they choose.

        2. JohnG

          "I can see why some people might find this kind of filtering helpful, but it should have been an opt-in choice rather than a 'lets turn it on for all' choice."

          This entire story is specifically about opt-in filters, intended for parents to restrict what their children can access and is not about the idea to apply a universal porn filter on everyone in the UK.

  2. stu_ekins

    "the telcos are quietly mumbling that such a system is a bit rubbish and really, ultimately, it's up to parents to be responsible for educating kids about the dangers that might lurk online."

    Strongly agree! This [filtering] really seems to be just another abdication of parental responsibility, which will ultimately backfire. The problem is that governments still don't "get" technology, so take advice from those with the loudest voices, rather than the most relevant knowledge and experience.

    1. Grikath
      Facepalm

      Govt does not get technology?

      Oh, "the Government" is actually quite aware of the possibilities of the internet, and the technology involved. Especially the bits they do not like. Its' only problem is that now the cat is out of the bag, they cannot ban parts of it outright, so they need mission creep from Noble Causes to get their censorship accomplished.

      Mind.. the "toddler filter" is insane.. Googles' standard filtering already takes care of most smut ( and other tomfoolery) in ordinary web searches. The strict filter may or may not take out even the "educational" sector here and there. The extra filter is really not necessary.

      Besides.. The percentage of toddlers being able to read/write and operate a keyboard is, at least by my rather empyrical experience, extremely low.

      1. Red Bren
        Coat

        Empyrical?

        "The percentage of toddlers being able to read/write and operate a keyboard is, at least by my rather empyrical experience, extremely low."

        Are you a toddler then?

        I'm sorry. I tried really hard to resist the pedantry...

        1. Lyndon Hills 1

          Re: Empyrical?

          Are you a toddler then?

          Obviously, he spelled empirical incorrectly.

        2. MrXavia

          Re: Empyrical?

          Well my 3 year old can use a computer to browse the web, sure he can't spell, and isn't sure of his letters... BUT he can browse the web if he asks how to spell things...

          Actually I think a more useful thing would be better filtering on YouTube, to block out all the swearing. Kids Love it, and learn loads by watching videos i,.e. how to build something in Lego etc.... My 6 year old is sensible enough that he turns off any videos with 'bad' content, my 3 year old needs to be told to turn off (and to his credit he listens and turns off when I tell him)

          The key thing is I monitor what they watch/search for by sitting with them when they use it (or their mother will)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @MrXavia

            K9 protection.

            Much better than these DNS crap things. Locks Safe search on.

            As for those that say never leave your kids unattended, take it you do the same in kitchen? Or how about near stairs? What about he garden?

            Do you leave the kettle on the floor boiling away, or is it on a nice short lead on the work surface (look into the history of kettle leads to see why that changed).

            Think as filtering a safeguard a bit like putting the worst of the content on the top shelf. The determined will find a way, but it stops much of the accidental problems.

            1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

              Re: @MrXavia

              "(look into the history of kettle leads to see why that changed)"

              So very true. Sometimes I find myself waiting for annoyingly long periods in annoyingly uncomfortable places and to pass the time I have a look around to see just how many aspects of the built environment have their present form because we (society) learned something "the hard way". If you're not squeamish, it is surprisingly entertaining. If you have like-minded friends, you can even play it competitively. It's a bit like I-spy, but with more gore.

            2. Vimes

              Re: @MrXavia

              K9 protection.

              This would be the same K9 Protection owned by Bluecoat?

              The same Bluecoat that stalks their users online by repeating the visits they make to websites?

              The same Bluecoat that can't even do that job properly as all their requests seem to come from the same very small set of IP addresses? From a webmasters point of view it would be extremely easy to either block or selectively display fake pages in response to such requests. Show pictures of nice fluffy kittens when their bot comes calling but keep the porn for the 'real' visitors...

              THAT'S the K9 Protection you're referring to?

              Bluecoat is a US corporation too, so anything sent to them - including web traffic - is open to abuse by certain 3rd parties that I don't think need to be named here.

              All in all it's something that I think is best avoided...

            3. hplasm Silver badge
              Facepalm

              Re: @MrXavia

              "K9 protection."

              Why? Because on the Internet, nobody knows you are a dog.

          2. Naughtyhorse

            Re: he can browse the web if he asks how to spell things

            daddy......

            yes son

            how do you spell 'felch'

            soz couldn't resist.

            it;s okay, i have downvoted myself, so you dont have to (assuming this post gets past the filters)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Gimp

              Re: he can browse the web if he asks how to spell things

              or you can tell your children that google is an excellent dictionary/encyclopedia. Just have them enter "define word" in to the search box and Google will give them a definition, and if necessary suggest the correct spelling and usage, which would require a straw.

      2. xyz

        Re: Govt does not get technology?

        Just to clarify the Govt's position:

        The internet is a new type of telly (ntot) with lots of channels that you can watch using your phone line. It's all a bit chaotic, so we're working with our major ntot providers to streamline the whole thing so the consumer gets only world class programming. Some of these channels appear to be foreign and may even come from Bulgaria, so we've decided that the ntot providers will each provide a weekly magazine, listing what's on which channel and will weed out those forgeign channels that only clutter the schedules up. This makes things much simpler and will ensure that you, the customer, only get the best ntot programmes for your enjoyment.

        Pip pip!

    2. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

      ....And the government has ensured that parents have access to, and have been informed of the existence of, the tools to make an informed decision of their own.

      They haven't introduced a "national firewall" or retained the power of censorship for themselves, just forced every parent, and by extension every internet user, in the UK to actually think about it and make a decision.

      Isn't this what HUNDREDS of posts on El. Reg. have been yelling for for some years now, or are we so filled with hubris that we think non-technical parents have to actually figure out the entire technical solution for themselves from scratch?

      Personally, I'm in favour of "Hey! Parents! Here are the tools. Read this webpage. Make a choice. You can change your mind later, and if you want you can even adjust the level of filtering to suit your own point of view. Yours, government."

      Surely, it could've been a lot worse? (Remember what Wacky Jacqui wanted to do!).

      [Caveat: I expect scope-creep and am basing my opinion solely on the premise that the system proposed will work as described. I take no stance on the future evolution of the system until such a time as it, inevitably, mutates into Something Hideous.]

    3. Chimp

      It's not abdication...

      ... it's usurping. The progressive mantra is that the masses cannot be trusted.

  3. Vimes

    All the while, the telcos are quietly mumbling that such a system is a bit rubbish and really, ultimately, it's up to parents to be responsible for educating kids about the dangers that might lurk online.

    All very well, but the telcos are still quite content to give the parents a false sense of security with this filtering. This makes things worse as parents will be more likely to be making the mistakes they should be avoiding, rather than paying attention to what's going on.

    I know it's rather fanciful to think that this will ever happen, but personally I really would like to see that whole industry grow a backbone and actually occasionally stand up to the government's own bad behaviour.

  4. Tachikoma

    I doubt any kid is really hampered by these blocks, the "Go Away Cameron" Chrome plugin is being widely reported in the media so should be common knowledge in the playground soon.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Childcatcher

    If I was making such a list...

    ...I'd start with blocking the really dangerous sites like the Vatican or the White House. These places actively target vulnerable kids with priest and missiles.

    1. John Bailey

      Re: If I was making such a list...

      And the Conservative website.

      Who can forget the clip of a pubescent William Hague at a party conference..

  6. bigtimehustler

    So, the backtrack starts and it hasn't even been forced on the vast majority of people yet...by the time it does this will probably have fallen on its arse completely and the ISP's will conclude people do not want it.

  7. NomNomNom

    Right get this, I called up BT at the weekend to ask them how the filter will work. I was suspicious you see from what I had read. Well right off the bat they were evasive pretending they didn't understand my questions. Reason being it turns out as I suspected the filter is a FALSE filter. It only works in ONE direction and its the WRONG direction. The filter will stop my computer connecting to pedofiles but it wont' stop them connecting to my computer! For crying out loud! The BT help person eventually understood the porblem (after 20 frickin minutes explaining it). My son isn't going to be calling pedofiles on Skype is he? So I don't need a filter that way round. But pedofiles ARE going try calling my son on skype. THATS WAHT I NEED THE FILTER TO BLOCK. Better yet I told them couldn't BT forward the calls to 999 so the police can deal with them? I don't know why BT are finding it so hard to block the filth. David Cameron gets it so why can't BT?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cool! I get to see Poe's law in action!

    2. teebie

      I give it ten minutes before someone takes this post sincerely

    3. BoldMan

      Damn them "pedofiles" they are just too cunning!

      So when you sign up for an ISP account, you have to answer an "Are you a 'pedofile'?" question so that your ISP can block the people who answer "Yes"...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @BoldMan

        No, but once the ingenious questionnaire you have to fill in to get your internet connection reveals that you are a 'pedofile', the evil bit is set on all packets you submit to the Internet.

        Actually, 'pedofile' is at least as good a spelling as the usual one; the whole Greek ai = Latin ae and phi is written as ph thing is pretty arbitrary. When I look at, for instance, the XML wars, I'm reminded of the whole school Latin/Greek mess that traumatised generations of public schoolboys so much that even dying in a trench in WW1 was an improvement.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Right get this

      Too soon Nom, give it a bit of time for the short term memory defect to set in then give it another go ;-)

      1. NightFox

        Re: Right get this

        No need to declare anything, 3 attempts to access any of BT's blocked sites and their system automatically marks your account as a sexual deviant

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We did not see any of this random blocking mess coming...

    Wait until the focus shifts from sexual content (educational or otherwise) to P2P, political "incorrect" sites etc

    This has to end in tears. I feel almost sorry for the ISPs who were politcally forced to implement this without enough time to do it properly or test it thoroughly. It hasn't been thought through, at all. The only sane way of dealing with it is to switch off all these nanny filters, tell the people on mumsnet that they are actually responsible for their own kids and what they do or don't get to see on TV and internet alike, and get on with all our lives.

  9. Mtech25
    Megaphone

    Sex education

    I cannot understand what people have against sex education i mean it is going to happen one way or another if they know about it or not, it is human nature and we happen to be doing it long before we knew what we happened to be doing and the full risks involved.

    1. Amorous Cowherder
      Pint

      Re: Sex education

      Completely agree but it's up you as a responsible parent or guardian to know when you think your kids are mature enough to understand the facts. Not all kids are the same, some mature mentally at different times. They teach it to primary school kids at around 8-9 years old. We took our daughter aside about a month before the school started teaching it, we had a frank talk about the birds and the bees, respect for your body, yadda, yadda, then she had time to take it in before the school got all clinical about it.

      She came home from the first lesson and said it was a quite funny, some kids freaked out and felt sick and some had to leave(!), some weren't allowed to see it, but actually it was a little boring, said what we had said to her was a much more interesting way of explaining it.

      We're all different and we all react in different ways learning the way sex works. You can't just buy a chainsaw, give to the 12 year old kid who cuts your lawn for a tenner and ask him to cut down that 100 foot pine tree in your back garden!

      1. Mtech25
        Joke

        Re: Sex education

        "We're all different and we all react in different ways learning the way sex works. You can't just buy a chainsaw, give to the 12 year old kid who cuts your lawn for a tenner and ask him to cut down that 100 foot pine tree in your back garden"

        Great their goes my plan to get ride of the pine tree in my back garden, what am i meant to give little Timmy as a christmas gift now?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sex education

        > She came home from the first lesson and said it was a quite funny, some kids freaked out and felt sick and some had to leave(!), some weren't allowed to see it, but actually it was a little boring, said what we had said to her was a much more interesting way of explaining it.

        Pretty much all of those freaked out kids will likely have parents as uptight as they come.

        All of the prejudices that we have in the world ultimately come from our environment and our family.

        We do our kids no favours by training them that sexual matters are taboo.

    2. Lottie

      Re: Sex education

      "it is going to happen one way or another"

      Exactly! If a kid is interested, they'll find it somehow. Be that on t'interweb or from the discarded Fiesta in the bushes or from a friend finding their parents "adult drawer" and inviting folk round for a viewing of the videos.

      The difference is, that with all sex education blocked, you end up with kids learning the -for want of a better phrase- ins and outs of it all from the fantasies on the letters page.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sex education

        > you end up with kids learning the -for want of a better phrase- ins and outs of it all from the fantasies on the letters page.

        Depend on the letters page I suppose. I'd hate to think what would happen if an innocent found the caravan owner's club magazine letters page...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sex education

      You don't seem to understand that these sites might contain pictures of people doing something unspeakable with someone who isn't their husband/wife.

      In some parts of the world the very mention of this is enough to get the woman stoned to death.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sex education

        Quote: "In some parts of the world the very mention of this is enough to get the woman stoned to death."

        Like where? Norfolk or Kent?

        Giving it a thought (especially after travelling on a train in the region on Friday around 10pm) I find it a bit difficult to believe in either.

        Realistically, this level of censorship does not match the prevailing attitudes in sosciety to the subject so there has to be a different reason (besides asking Daily Beobachter "with ice cubes or hot coffee"). My highly educated guess is "censorship == logging". Any reasonably effective censorship infrastructure can log as well to supply the Stasi with appropriate data on thoughtcrime.

        1. Vociferous

          Re: Sex education

          > Like where? Norfolk or Kent?

          Not stoned to death, probably, but islam is the second largest religion in the UK now, and quite a lot of people from especially Pakistan take an extremely dim view of sex-ed in general and female sexuality in particular.

          1. moiety

            Re: Sex education

            'Dim' being the absolute correct term.

          2. Bananimal
            Flame

            Re: Sex education

            2nd largest religion paints a distorted picture. To paraphrase Bill Hicks, 'after the top one, there's a big fucking drop off.'

            There were over 10 times as many Christians in the 2011 census. There were over 5 times as many atheists. Also don't think this particular cynical vote grab was targetted at that general sector, was running headlines in the wrong papers. Otherwise, I take your point.

    4. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Sex education

      Mostly because we don't want 9 year old's finding an academic paper on sociopaths (big word, skip it) enjoying the control they exercise over their rape victims, and trying it out on their class-mates. Children have poor judgement. They think staying up late is grown-up. Tell them about the fun things grown-ups do and they will want to do it too.

      I don't think the filter's default "on" is appropriate, but it is reasonable to have an option which allows little Johnny to do his research on Queensland without being surprised. Ideally he'd use an encyclopedia, but apparently reading books isn't the thing anymore.

      Essentially, what it really comes down to is the relationship between the State and the Governed. Do all children belong to the State and parents are only allowed to keep them if they follow the Curriculum?

      I ask, because that appears to be what most many posters here actually want - the State to enforce my worldview. Personally, I place little faith in the State and view "liberal" not as "enforced permissiveness" but as "tolerant of other (adults) who don't believe what I believe in." Toleration is not "agreement" but "agreeing to disagree." I really don't want the state to enforce my worldview because I'm pretty sure they wouldn't get it right and the result would be an abomination. Actually, even if they got it right it would be an abomination, because my beliefs require people to see my principles as attractive because they are better. It doesn't work when its enforced. Mostly, I want the State to get out of my business. Attempting to change people's attitudes is not the State's role, I don't care whether its Catholic or Gay lobbies pushing for it.

  10. frank ly Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The very idea!

    "... information on subjects such as respect for a partner, ..."

    $Deity forbid that children would learn respect for a partner.

  11. Graham Marsden

    Meanwhile...

    ... a nicely satirical viewpoint...

    http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2012/apr/30/porn-panic-daily-mail

    1. Vociferous

      Re: Meanwhile...

      That was a great article. Sadly it did not succeed in stopping the insanity.

  12. Davie Dee

    Heres an idea

    Why don't parents set up accounts for their kids properly and monitor what they are getting up to rather than dumping the whole sorry mess on to someone else.

    an if parents don't know how, then ISPs should be making the info available rather than censoring the internet. FFS, Im a parent and I take full responsibility for my kids online and sex edd needs, why do so many others feel the need to pass the buck then blame everyone else for their own shortcomings when it goes tits up!

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Heres an idea

      Because parents don't have the technical ability to know that website X has to be blocked because its parent company competes with one of BT's strategic partners in a different business area.

      Over here one of the countries big 3 telcos (we can only have a cartel of domestic carriers for security and cultural reasons) decided to block the website of the union it was in dispute with - for all it's customers.

      Bizarrely they didn't seem to think anyone would be annoyed, or that it would be news!

  13. Vociferous

    In the name of Think Of The Children...

    ...one can block everything from child abuse helplines and sex-ed sites to humanist sites. Isn't it wonderful how pliable and versatile the concept of Think Of The Children is?

  14. Avatar of They
    Facepalm

    LIFESTYLE CHOICE?

    Since when has being gay been a choice? I can't remember ever thinking "I can't decide, man or woman." And then DECIDING. You might waver in the middle and prefer both, but for most once you realise what you are comfortable with you just are.

    What next, choosing to have blue eyes or brown, choosing to have male or female parts?

    That is very bad wording on which buffoon decided to come up with it.

    1. Graham Marsden

      @Avatar of They

      "You might waver in the middle and prefer both"

      Or some people might make a firm decision that they prefer both...

  15. MrT

    Sometimes** the filters get it spot on...

    ... like one protecting the whole-region education network where I was based about 10 years ago that classified the HMRC site a "offensive".

    But for most of the time they just annoyed everyone with spurious content analysis that leads to, for example, sites selling extreme Land Rover off-road suspension kits , being classified as "firearms" just because part of the system for older leaf-sprung vehicles involves fitting something called a 'revolver linkage'...

    ** 'sometimes' as in 'hardly ever'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sometimes** the filters get it spot on...

      Many years ago we had an export order (for a completely innocuous system) impounded by customs because the recipient was a "Mr Pistol".

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Child abuse!

    Isn't blocking a youngster access to sex education, a form a child abuse? Is that legal?

    1. Mike Richards

      Re: Child abuse!

      Parents are still allowed to opt their children out of sex ed in school.

      I'd love to see a follow-up study to see if there is any correlation between kids taken out of sex ed and their incidence of teenage pregnancy or STD infection.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Child abuse!

        "I'd love to see a follow-up study to see if there is any correlation between kids taken out of sex ed and their incidence of teenage pregnancy or STD infection."

        I think they call it Texas.

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Heck

    As kids we found out about the naughty-bits and what they could be used for WAAAAAY before the Internet came along. Of course we also 'learned' a lot of crap.

    I think it's better for kids to be properly educated, not ignorant.

    I've never understood why all these deities (and their followers) are obsessed with what people (adults) do with their squidgy bits. Their obsession is unnatural and very creepy.

  18. Umpty Numpty

    The mind boggles....

    It used to be called the World Wide Web. At what age would you allow your kids to wander around the world unaccompanied? FFS have some common sense and don't trust a numpty ISP, MP or piece of software to be a substitute for adequate supervision.

  19. Rottenham

    I am urinating on the Feminist section of the Politically Correct Dictionary. And I ate asparagus today.

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