back to article Lib Dems to oppose porn checks in Blighty's Digital Economy Bill

The Liberal Democrats are to oppose plans to impose strict age regulations on porn sites in the UK's forthcoming Digital Economy Bill – describing the measures as something the "Russian or Chinese governments" would impose. The proposed law is due for a report-stage vote and third reading in the Commons on Monday afternoon. …

  1. John Sager
    Facepalm

    I'm totally, one hundred percent sure that will persuade Amber Rudd to have a radical re-think.

  2. djstardust

    The problem with this country

    Is career politicians like Amber who clearly don't have a clue about what they are pioneering. They listen to think tanks, fringe protest groups and charities with a vested interest while ignoring experts, common sense and more importantly the general public.

    They can please themselves, but I have started using a VPN recently and apart from the odd site that checks that the IP address is UK based it's 98% non-intrusive.

    I'm not surfing anything dogdy however I DO have an issue with others snooping through it for no reason. It's perfectly clear that the people they are looking for are either using TOR or the dark web so this is just an excuse to try and control the population.

    Screw you Amber.

    1. Peter 26

      Re: The problem with this country

      My neighbours in the fire service, will he now be able to see my search history? So what if I want to watch some adult content, I should be able to do that with privacy?

      I'm considering setting up a permanent VPN from my internet connection. I'll probably set it up on a UK based server for speed and for the 2% reason you mentioned. I don't have anything to hide, but no need to make it easy to browse my history and block content at will. I want the control back...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The problem with this country

        "My neighbours in the fire service, will he now be able to see my search history?"

        We know that some in the police, councils and other public bodies abuse any powers they are given. Look at RIPA, PNC etc.

        So I expect that a cop will be able to look at your ICRs etc. Not all will, and it will be a breach of some code of conduct or other if they do. They'll get disciplined (or, more likely, asked to resign, keeping their pension etc) if there are enough complaints and they can't think of a good enough excuse. But abuses will happen.

        On the other hand, it's likely that breaches will happen anyway, so everyone will be able to see your history, police, fire service, grandma, or criminal looking to steal your identity.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The problem with this country

          "I expect that a cop will be able to look at your ICRs etc"

          Whatever an ICR might be. Last time I looked, there didn't actually appear to be a useful technical or legal definition.

      2. dan1980

        Re: The problem with this country

        @Peter 26

        "I don't have anything to hide . . ."

        While I believe I understand what you are saying, I don't see that as a strong argument because the government line of "if you don't have anything to hide then you don't have anything to fear" is actually relatively straight-forward

        The problem with that argument, however, comes in the two assumptions: first, that if you're hiding something then you are up to no good and, second, that there is nothing to 'fear' from having your secrets revealed.

        What a load of rubbish.

        It is entirely legal (at least for the moment . . .) to have an affair. If you are doing so, it is entirely logical that you should wish to hide it from everyone and it is entirely rational to be afraid of that secret being learned by anyone*.

        In other words, it is entirely possible to have something to hide and something to fear but yet be entirely innocent of any crime.

        I hide as much as I can, feasibly, from the government and indeed from anyone who doesn't need to know. I have no loyalty cards of any sort, I use no 'social media' (excluding these forums) and I buy things in person with cash as much as is possible. You don't need a foil hat to realise that you are being tracked and your personal information stored and collated and sold and processed and cross-referenced whenever you allow yourself to be.

        In Sydney, Australia, our version of the Oyster card ('Opal') was originally only available by signing up and linking it to your credit card. F--k that. I waited until it was available anonymously before getting one and only ever top it up with cash. This is something that requires extra effort on my part and sometimes causes me to miss my train if I have forgotten to do so. But that is something I am willing to deal with to protect my privacy.

        The point is that you shouldn't have to earn your right to privacy by proving you're not doing anything wrong.

        grrrrr . . .

        * - Just think back to the 'Ashley Madison' hack and recall that some people went so far as to end their own lives once what they were "hiding" was made public.

        1. Kane Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: The problem with this country

          if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear...

          "The news that they have nothing to fear is guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of innocents everywhere."

    2. veti Silver badge

      Re: The problem with this country

      They do listen to those people, yes, but what they principally listen to is "people who are going to make lots and lots and lots of money out of their proposals".

      The government hasn't outlawed all porn, only free porn. Think about who benefits from that.

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    Are your 18 years old or more

    If Yes, click on this bug Button to enter site.

    Oh and that kind of scenario will help keep kiddies away from websites !!

    You really do get the idea that politicians have a lot of spare time on their hands if that's considered vital.. How about creating some jobs, or controlling the economy a bit more...

    1. G R Goslin

      Re: Are your 18 years old or more

      With the observed abilities of the government, I'm not sure that I want them controlling the economy. Oh, they're already doing that. I wondered how we could have got into this mess.

  4. DrBobK

    Opera

    I wonder if Amber Rudd is on the payroll of Opera Software ASA. The popularity of browsers with built-in free VPN is sure to surge anytime now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Opera

      "I wonder if Amber Rudd is on the payroll of Opera Software ASA"

      Now owned by the Chinese.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Opera

        I don't really care if the Chinese Army knows I view porn.

        I do care if my local council knows

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "If Yes, click on this bug Button to enter site."

    IIRC the Government is proposing two mandatory things.

    1) age verification - to obtain which you will have to register with one of their approved verifier companies. Looked at the Barclays one - apparently the registration requires you to submit things like your passport details.

    2) ISPs will be told to block totally any sites which carry material of which the Government does not approve. Initially they are talking about things like pictures of certain types of legal sex between consenting adults. This does appear to be ripe for the usual creep that will encompass more than that eventually.

    Theresa May is pinning her "committed Anglican churchgoer" badge on very firmly in her policy making. A born again Mary Whitehouse or Margaret Thatcher who "knows what's good for everyone else".

    The UK Government appear to be embracing all things dear to the heart of the Chinese Government.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      For all of her sins Thatcher was fairly liberal, no way near as bad as Theresa May. Her government introduced the R18 certificate, allowing hardcore porn for the first time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "For all of her sins Thatcher was fairly liberal, no way near as bad as Theresa May."

        Thatcher was economically liberal - and morally authoritarian. The former did not translate into the philanthropic works she expected. The latter was somewhat undermined by various Tory MPs' sex scandals. Her married successor as PM echoed her "family values" line - while having an affair with one of his ministers.

        She introduced Section 28 in 1988 that directed that councils should not "intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality" in its schools or other areas of their work. This was 20 years after Roy Jenkins's first steps to decriminalise homosexuality. It was an attack on LGBTQ pupils by preventing school sex education covering anything other than "Christian morality".

      2. Graham Marsden

        @Adam 52

        The R18 certificate was introduced as just another method of control.

        Given the rise in the availability of home videos and a more relaxed attitude to adult content, it was clear even to the Tories that they would be unable to stop this sort of material being available under current laws.

        As such, they introduce R18 with the stipulation that you could only see these films in private cinemas or buy them from licenced sex shops. This gave TPTB greater opportunities to shut down any "unlicenced" sex shops and, at the same time, start charging for licences from any shops that wanted to sell R18 films.

        Since then, of course, the rise of the Web has meant that you can get this sort of content from anywhere in the world, hence this stupid law and the idea of Hadrians Firewall whereby any site that shows it must (somehow) be blocked.

        Of course this is the usual sort of Magical Thinking that politicians come up with, believing that all they have to do is make a demand and industry will wave a wand and make it happen, despite all the people who know what they're talking about telling them that it's completely unfeasible.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      wont someone please investigate her husband's web browser history.

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. ShaolinTurbo

    The obvious way around all this is VPNs. So how long until they gang up on VPNs and block them?

    I know it would be tough to stop VPN use but not any more tough than stopping all porn sites.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Just claim that VPNs are used by pedophiles. The public will be instantly outraged, and no-one will dare to publically question your demand for strict regulation for fear of being seen as supporting the most hated criminals in modern society.

    2. phuzz Silver badge
      Stop

      Before they could ban VPNs, they have to explain to all the businesses in the country how they were supposed to move information around the internet without using something like a VPN.

      As they have far more money than you or me, they'll be listened to by the government, so don't worry about VPNs being banned.

      I'm not sure how you could stay PCI compliant without using a VPN, for starters.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: banning VPNs

        "explain to all the businesses in the country how they were supposed to move information around the internet without using something like a VPN."

        They don't have to ban VPNs, they just have to ban *unauthorised" VPNs.

        VPNs for business will be authorised either by outfits like BT, or by outfits like the big accountancies/auditors, because we know these people have the public's interests at heart don't we.

        ISPs will be required to ensure that all other VPNs (ie all VPNs which are not officially authorised) are inaccessible.

        Bring back the Stasi. They were probably less dangerous.

  8. Simon Harris Silver badge

    "Lib Dems to oppose porn checks"

    If they don't want to do it, I'd be quite happy to check their porn for them.

    1. M7S

      Re: "Lib Dems to oppose porn checks"

      @Simon Harris

      Unless you're limiting yourself to the eight or so MPs they currently have, you really wouldn't.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Won't somebody think of the children?

    There they are at home doing some politics homework, doing a bit of Internet research on the Labout Party and they "come across" *shudder* a video of Diane Abbott being serviced by Jeremy Corbin, nobody wants that now do they?

  10. Roger Greenwood

    The more publicity this gets . . .

    . .the more idiots will start using VPNs etc. If such folk wise up to also deleting their browser history as well it makes gathering evidence in criminal cases so much more difficult. At the moment they probably form the "low hanging fruit" for the police in all sorts of cases (e.g. Thomas Mair). Unintended consequences etc.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: The more publicity this gets . . .

      Deleting the browser history is only a minor inconvenience to a proper forensic examination. If you want to browse without trace, your only option is to use a liveCD that never writes to the hard drive, or a VM image that snapshots before use and reverts after - and in that case, you still need to zero out free space on the host OS to be sure.

  11. Rol Silver badge

    Dark Web no longer optional?

    So, you like looking at flesh from a variety of angles and poses, and you would prefer:-

    1. Your harmless hobby to remain private and

    2. You don't have to hand over your credentials to prove your age and stupidity.

    Seems then the biggest problem you'll be facing is in having to wade through the reams of child pornography that the dark web will thrust at you to get to the candid shots of Miley Cyrus with her clothes on for once.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Dark Web no longer optional?

      I think a great joke here will be that the porn filtering might actually make police work harder.

      Right now, if someone is on the darknet, they are probably up to No Good. You don't go there unless you have something to hide. Anything from petty piracy to drugs trading or child abuse imagery. It's a lot of hassle to navigate, so you don't go there without reason. I used to play around on Freenet, and it's really limited to three groups: Criminals, activists, and paranoid nutters planning for the day that Obama starts rounding up his opponents for the concentration camps. Most of the criminals are just pirates.

      Now start trying to filter porn, and what happens? Ten million new users rush to the darknet. Now it's flooded: You have a much larger pool of suspects to sort, and most of them are just looking for smut. Smut which is itsself now unpolicable, because what very little regulation we have right now would become entirely impossible to enforce once the industry is driven into the shady world of tor and bitcoin.

  12. Pointer2null

    All eight?

    Skim reading, for a second I thought there were eight online age checks, then the brain caught up and spotted "Lib Dem" in the title. lol

  13. Snafu1

    ""Of course the internet cannot be an ungoverned space""

    STM that the official that wrote that should a) smell the coffee & b) get a life outside the Civil Service.. or possibly the other way around :(

  14. arctic_haze Silver badge

    Brave New UK

    So Britain is going to be not only Brexited but also Victorian?

    1. Thought About IT

      Re: Brave New UK

      I think you'll find that the Victorians were far from innocent with respect to pornography: The Victorian era’s kinky side

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've done nothing wrong and have something to hide.

    there doesn't appear to be a use-case for me.

  16. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Who's watching?

    There are currently 46bn pages indexed by Google, that of course doesn't include the billions of pages that are protected by paywalls or whatever.

    Are the individual pages subject to BBFC classification or just the domains? If it's the pages I guess there's going to be a big job advert posted soon for 'employment until blind and fed up of cats', if it's for domains, then sites like The Times and CNN should watch out as they have fallen foul of 'adult content' filters on a regular basis due to graphic depiction of dead bodies in war zones which would also fall foul of BBFC '18' classification but, in one story, would wipe out the entire domain as unclassified ... Remember, this is adult content, not just 'porn'.

    And how are these sites to be found? Is it going to rely on the 'volunteers' from the "Mary Whitehouse was my granny" brigade to report every unclassified site they find with a boob on it as I can't see how they could automate the process of linking 'adult content' and unclassified pages.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    every unclassified site they find with a boob on it

    That'll take the Daily Mail Online offline then.

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