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Daily Mail declares victory in war on porn
Monday 22 July 2013 09:20:56 by Andrew Ferguson

The Internet in the United Kingdom is set to become a child friendly zone if the measures that the Prime Minister is proposing work as expected. At the simplest level this means that in households where people do not read messages during the sign-up or broadband activation phase they will sleep walk into having child friendly filters applied to the connection.

The new filter system is called 'Active Choice +' by the providers but is generally referred to 'default-on' by the Prime Minister and the Daily Mail which has been central to driving public opinion on this new policy. The blocking of pornography is something parents have the ability to do already, the new measures are intended to try and simplify things for the third of households that have children though without the detail of exactly what will be blocked it is hard to know if the measures will make parents feel more like network administrators as they have to keep tweaking settings to cope with the needs of their family and even their own perfectly legal Internet viewing activities.

These new measures only affect the largest four providers, BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk who account for 93% of the UK broadband market and in addition to new customers having to make the decision on whether to leave the filters at a default-on setting, existing customers will also be contacted to ensure that people have had the choice. The filtering will be network level on all the providers, and as yet we do not know what the level of control will be precisely, but the TalkTalk system which has existed for sometime does allow you to add extra categories like gambling to the blocks, but the blocks tend to very wide ranging giving you little control over allowing your 16 and 17 year old children more freedom than your 8 year old.

Other measures have been announced most of which are of no surprise as the policy by leak process becomes the norm for new measures announced by the Prime Minister.

  • Code of practice where public Wi-Fi will have a block on accessing adult content (it is not clear if this means pornography, or any adult activity)
  • Online video to be subject to the same rules as those sold in shops (some sources mention sex shops as opposed to general shops)
  • Pop-up warning pages if you search for a phrase that has been associated with those looking for illegal content
  • More power to CEOP to help them delve deeper into the darker web of file-sharing networks
  • A database of banned child porn images to be used in tracing illegal content and finding paedophiles
  • Popular search engines are given until October to do their 'moral duty' and block illegal content

Those who campaign for freedom are right to be concerned, as the terminology very easily flips between reducing the amount of child abuse material online to controlling legal pornography to illegal content. Some of this may be down to the interpretation of the many journalists and the inaccuracy that often creeps in at press briefings, but as yet no definitive wording has appeared from David Cameron's office.

No matter which side of the fence you sit on the debate of whether all pornography is harmful, there is an observation to be made that this policy appears to be a personal crusade by David Cameron, in what could be seen as a cynical move to appease the easily offended masses and carries a risk that it may drive more people towards the darker side.

There may be a winner amongst all this, sales of the old fashioned top shelf magazines may rise and the economy may see a whole section of Internet media move offshore to avoid the cost and hassle of complying to the same legislation as real world DVDs.

Comments

Posted by camieabz over 3 years ago
"Popular search engines are given until October to do their 'moral duty' and block illegal content"

What's Cameron going to do if Google says "get stuffed" ?
Posted by mabibby over 3 years ago
I say let's not be pedantic over the wording of something that has been obviously announced to benefit the community. I see no alternative agenda here.

- Illegal Content (Child Porn) = More Heavily Monitored.

- ADULT content = Optional Filtering.

We shouldn't confuse the two!
Posted by mabibby over 3 years ago
@camieabz

I seriously can't imagine Google letting a press release state they refuse to support the suppression of Child Abuse?
Posted by Tripp over 3 years ago
What next, CCTV in our homes? I for one am against this porn block.
Posted by zhango over 3 years ago
We have recently been made aware of extensive abuse in children's homes in north Wales and Nottingham. This abuse has been going on for years and long before the internet existed. It is rather naïve of Dave Cameron to think that blocking porn will make children safe from abuse.
Posted by camieabz over 3 years ago
@mabibby

The point being that along with child abuse, all forms of 'illicit content' is going to be blocked.

Akin to preventing people from going into parks without permission from the parkie, from fear of them being paedophiles (and is the parkie to be trusted?).

It's the stuff of paranoid parents who won't take personal responsibility for their childrens' computer usage.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
@camieabz Well he *says* he'll legislate if the search giants don't do the right thing. The PM was just on Woman's Hour so I guess he's chasing the female vote. His level of understanding / briefing wasn't fantastic on the technology aspects.
Posted by Yorkie71 over 3 years ago
Headline grabbing statements with no real substance behind it on how it might work in practice. As a parent I'm also concerned by what my kids can see on the web but I also see it as my job to educate them and filter where needed.

I might just add The Daily Mail site to my OpenDNS content filter :-)
Posted by mdar5 over 3 years ago
"You" and "We" are all to blame

Why do you think we get speed camera's - answer: because a significant minority refuse outright to obey the speed limits - to the detriment of the majority.

Why are we going to get increasing amount of filtering on our internet?
Answer: because a significant minority are using it to pedal stuff or their views which is either illegal (certain porn), or which the vast majority find in poor taste. (twitter rants, other porn & conspiracy/hate sites etc)

Rather than blame the government - blame your fellow citizens.
Posted by fox-uk over 3 years ago
There is an upside....

If people post comments on the Conservative party webshite containing naughty words......

OK they probably vet stuff before allowing posts but one can only dream.

Bye bye to Spartacus, SOA and probably all crime based TV show websites - believe it, if it doesn't show before 9pm that's the end of 'exposure to naughtyness'.

Davey's nanny must have done some bad stuff to him.
Posted by shinerweb over 3 years ago
I already educ8 my kids and employ OpenDNS (as does Yorkie71 I see), but my biggest problem isn't with ISPs and seach engines as such, it's the mobile phone providers.
Are they going to be included in same controls as ISPs?
Posted by otester over 3 years ago
Like I said years ago...

CP -> Hardcore Porn -> Porn -> Political.

Censorship is a slippery slope.
Posted by camieabz over 3 years ago
@mdar5

I don't mind the idea of any government's nannyish tendencies when it comes to the more feckless and illiterate cretins of society.

It's when they rope everyone in with their vote-grabbing ideas that's the problem.

Speed bumps for all because one or two were idiots. Alcohol legislation for all because publicans' practices somehow (?) cannot be managed by the government.

Posted by fox-uk over 3 years ago
@ mdar5

I know, it's terrible how we can get suckered by 'evil people'.

My wife and I joined a website called 'I am Spartacus' which seemed to be a self help group for disabled people.

I found out by reading Hansard that the Government regards them as an 'Extremist Organisation'.

On checking I found out their evil plot - they were planning a patchwork protest quilt made of squares made by disabled people.

Obviously, we cancelled our membership immediately. We thought they were co-operative and agreed with the ConDems that we are a bunch of skiving malingerers.

Fox
Posted by camieabz over 3 years ago
Had to quote Cameron from the Beeb's article:

"And how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out."

...but we'll set Jon Venables free.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
@shinerweb mobile companies already have "default on" filters on mobile data, requiring opt-out by account holder or in some cases proof of age. If anything they're the example of how it might work.
Posted by timl over 3 years ago
A few months ago David Cameron was lecturing the Chinese about their Internet censorship. Pots and Kettles David.
Posted by shaunhw over 3 years ago
I think Mr Cameron has underestimated the feelings of most people on this issue. Will the filter work ? Can I still search for "Shag pile carpets" or "Blue tit birds" I wonder ?
Experience in Australia has shown that this simply doesn't work very well. But of course "Dave" knows better.
Posted by calmac12000 over 3 years ago
As other posters have shown this would seem to be an idea developed to garner support from the blue rinse brigade. Rather than any meaningful attempt to improve the safety and protection of children.
Posted by Joppy over 3 years ago
Sold to us in protecting the kids from porn but the mission creep appears to be right in there at the start. The reality is the UK government is just doing the dirty work for the American media companies, using porn as the excuse and relaxed wording so it can cover downloading of tv shows and films or ANYTHING the government wants. More likely to be what the US wants.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
@herdwick I found I could not access my local shop that sells wallets via T-Mobile until I removed the porn filter. Presumably because the shop web address happened to contain the word leather. Of course having removed the filter T-mobile delight in sending umpteen links to porn sites. Cameron was talking about having porn filters on all new computers, tablets etc on the radio this morning.
Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
This story by the Dail Fail is typicalas it's the governments properganda machine and mouthpiece, all talk, nothing else to really say, other than they haven't got a clue
Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
"Cameron was talking about having porn filters on all new computers, tablets etc" I would like to know how he's gonna do that on a home built machine, even there was a filter, it would be software based, and could be disabled , or the company may not sell many of them, who wants a PC configured by the government or one of it's trolls
Posted by GeeTee over 3 years ago
"Popular search engines are given until October to do their 'moral duty' and block illegal content"

So now the mostly overseas based search engine operators will be the arbiters of what is and isn't legal. Prosecutor, judge and jury.

This will not end well. The only way they can have a hope of seeming to comply with this will be by using massively overreaching filtering of results. This will not actually "block illegal content" – something that is impossible for them.

Cameron seems to have fallen into the stupid belief that Google IS the internet and somehow controls everyone on it.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
tommy45 Possible by doing it at the network level, i.e. inside the providers network just like TalkTalk does already
Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
@andrew, I know that an ISP can filter at network level, but not all ISP's wll be filtering take AAISP for one, infact their web site is now telling those who want a filtered internet service to go elsewhere They won't be the only isp who won't pander to government
Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
One has to admire the Government's child-like faith in the power of technology to make us all good, in the face of decades (even centuries)of evidence to the contrary. The first lesson in how to become a politician.
Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
Also this isn't about blocking porn,it's a lot more sinester than that, no it will be used by government to try and block the masses from seeing something that they don't want us to see,anything to win at the next general election,i cast my vote when they started this con dem government and have not changed my mind,They have done nothing but damage
Posted by Joppy over 3 years ago
One day we will be telling our grandchildren about the good o'le days where the internet was a playground of freedom before the governments slowly started to control it so it could control the people and stop them rebelling.
Posted by camieabz over 3 years ago
Won't they just administer it at the wholesale level, and that will be that?

i.e. wholesalers will insist on ISPs signing up to it.
Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
I wouldn't of thought that a wholesaler would want to get involved with what is after all down to the individual ISP what and not to filter, There would also ne a cost involved to implement a filtering system,
Oh wait the customer would get shafted again for web filtering that they didn't want or need,That would be very wrong,
Posted by ryant704 over 3 years ago
Awkward when I ask my mum to allow porn on our Internet. haha :)

I can't see this sticking, some lower form it might but not what he is proposing.
Posted by herdwick over 3 years ago
@camieabz Wholesalers can offer tunneled services where the raw traffic is presented to the ISP and not visible to them.

@Michael_Chare I have similar experiences with Vodafone filters and innocuous sites - like B4RN , saves on the data charges.
Posted by bartman007 over 3 years ago
All I can see is another rip off company making a huge profit claiming that they can filter kiddy porn and the Government will buy into it because they think they know what they are doing, then a few months/years down the line when this scam has made more millionaires than the national lottery there will be a public inquiry costing more millions as to why it did not work.

Typical government f**k up, we pay for the mess they leave us.
Posted by phil_w_lee over 3 years ago
"Popular search engines are given until October to do their 'moral duty' and block illegal content"

I'd be more impressed if he managed to get the online giants to do their moral duty and pay tax.

Google, ebay and amazon between them would pay off our entire deficit in a couple of years if they actually paid tax on their uk earnings.

And I guess all the cons-tit-uency offices will only be reachable to those without filters, or is it just those like Scunthorpe?
Posted by AndyS over 3 years ago
"[...] the Daily Mail which has been central to driving public opinion on this new policy"

Good ol' Daily Fail, any guesses how long it'll be before we get the headline: "Royal baby corrupted by Internet porn"? ;)
Posted by roughbeast over 3 years ago
Britain is one of the least child-friendly countries in the developed world. This is mostly due to them been sacrificed at the alter of the National Curriculum and being forced into a regime of teaching to tests and formal teaching far earlier then they should be and before most developed countries. The issue of access to illegal porn is a very small issue in terms of numbers.

I would accuse Cameron of using this issue, including the death of children by deranged individuals, as a political opportunity to get the swivel-eyed loons back on side.
Posted by c_j_ over 3 years ago
It's fairly easy to see how an ISP (or wholesaler) can block certain websites. Metronet used to have such a facility (block ads,block adult, take your pick from loads of categories).

How easy is it to then block undesirable content on a P2P network which doesn't come via a search engine and may not even involve a website as such?

Has no-one in the Millionaires Cabinet (or at the Daily Mail) got any kids who can explain what a VPN is? Or are VPNs to be on the block list too?

How does the proposed blocking distinguish between different users on the same machine?
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