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British Prime Minister Promises Default On Porn Blocking 311

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-more-rule-34 dept.
judgecorp writes "David Cameron, the British Prime Minister has promised that the UK's ISPs will be required to provide connections with 'porn blocking' filters switched on by default.. The public promise comes despite opposition from ISPs, and the near-universal acknowledgment that the system wouldn't work. Last week also saw the leak of a letter from the Department for Education which effectively told ISPs to lie — to implement their preferred 'active choice' system, and simply call it 'default-on'."
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British Prime Minister Promises Default On Porn Blocking

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @08:56AM (#44349291)

    Just wait until someone hacks the list of people with "show porn" checked and joins it to the table of politician names.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:16AM (#44349575)

    If they genuinely want to do this without being assholes about it, they should put a couple of different types of content under it. That way it would not be a "List of people who want to see porn on the internet", but a "List of people who do not want censors to decide what they can't and cannot see". At least that would be a more socially acceptable excuse.

  • by ILongForDarkness (1134931) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:17AM (#44349595)

    Its hard to find any valid argument why wanking off to any photos is inherently a bad thing.

    My thoughts exactly. When you are old enough to want to see it you are old enough to see it IMHO. We need to discover another continent again so we can ship off the all the Puritans to it again.

  • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot@nexuBALDWINsuk.org minus author> on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:21AM (#44349651) Homepage

    Its hard to find any valid argument why wanking off to any photos is inherently a bad thing.

    My thoughts exactly. When you are old enough to want to see it you are old enough to see it IMHO. We need to discover another continent again so we can ship off the all the Puritans to it again.

    I suggest an inflatable continent. We can slash it once we're done and let them all sink...

  • by Stolpskott (2422670) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:21AM (#44349653)

    it is easier, cheaper, quicker and garners more positive publicity for the politicians involved to get the ISP to block something (anything, does not really matter what, as long as something is blocked) than it is to actually tackle the underlying problem and catch the child abusers.

    However, as politicians we need censorship options to go alongside our surveillance capability... we use the surveillance ability to keep an eye on the people we are afraid of (in the UK, that apparently means the Government is afraid of about 65 million people... quite a way behind the US though, who have a list of 300 million or so people that scare the politicians). We then need the censorship mechanisms so that we can keep information about our surveillance system out of the public domain, and we then need the surveillance system again to watch the people who are trying to circumvent the censorship equipment (oh, good... we are already watching those people, because they are on our "people to be feared" list!).

    On a more serious note, Claire Lilley at the NSPCC [nspcc.org.uk] pointed out that "In every single child abuse image there is a victim, a child who has been abused". This is true, if you check the circumstances of the photograph. But I am 100% sure than a 5 minute search of Youtube would turn up a ton of clips from movies, from which you could grab stills that look like child abuse and that a third party viewer would categorize as child abuse, even though no children were abused in the production of said image.
    I am all for stamping our Child Abuse, preferably in a process that involves stamping out the penis and testicles of any men involved in said abuse, but blocking sites that some unaccountable quango group deep in the bowels of the British government thinks should be blocked is not the way to go about it... unless of course, the porn blocking is simply a convenient excuse behind which the real purpose of the system is being hidden.

    Damn, I am starting to sound like a conspiracy theorist. Somebody pass me my kool-aid, quick!

  • by DeathToBill (601486) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:22AM (#44349665) Journal

    That's right. Gun laws in Britain make no difference whatsoever, in fact the gun murder rate there is ten times higher than in the USA.

    Oh. Wait. No it's not. [wikipedia.org] Actually the USA is number 11 on that list and the UK is number 60. But hey, never let facts get in the way of your preconceptions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:25AM (#44349701)

    The not unreasonable assumption is that if a child can find porn, then an ISP can automate the process of finding it and blocking it.

    That there is the problem. You see, the assumption is unreasonable - you can understand why the assumption would be made, but it's still wrong non the less.

    The difficulty comes with specificity [wikipedia.org], when you search for something you also get a lot of false positives. For example: You search for a pornstar and also find the facebook page of some poor schmuck with the same name. Another example would be you search for some porn term and get a wikipedia page. When searching this is not a problem, false positives have little real cost, since we just skip over them.

    Now lets consider the filtering scenario. Lets say you search for Joe Bloggs' facebook page, trouble is there is also a Joe Bloggs who stars in certain adult entertainments and the system gets confused. Suddenly the facebook page of our upstanding member of society has been filtered, and worse all of his friends are now flagged as having looked for 'bad things'.

    You see, the key difference between search and filtering is that of the involvement of human decision. Search uses a flawed heuristic to give us a set of things to look at first with ultimately a human deciding and making up for the flaws in the search algorithm. Filtering uses said flawed heuristic and then sticks another flawed decision boundary on top, and there is no human presence to counteract it's mistakes

  • by wisewellies (2749169) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:26AM (#44349709)

    Whilst I have no problem with Cameron's intention to prevent undesirable material from falling into the hands of younger users, I have major issues with the fact that he seems to be pushing ahead with this despite advice from people who actually know how the Internet works. Fundamentally, he doesn't seem to understand that the Internet is merely a network - it transfers packets of data from A to B, much the same as the postal service. It does not (and should not) care what is in those packets.

    Ultimately any proposal to deploy blocking technology is doomed to fail - blocking certain DNS queries will simply lead people to use an alternative DNS server, or to share IP addresses of questionable sites. If ISPs start to filter HTTP, then people will move to a different protocol. Where does this end up? The Great Firewall of (not-so-great) Britain? Martial law? Ultimately his proposals will end in failure - the Internet community will develop new methods to access material much faster than the government can block them.

    If people really understood the full implications of what is being proposed here, they wouldn't want it. Packets on a network should be afforded the same protection as mail in transit - i.e. it requires a court order to open them. This process is transparent and well-understood - it is not left to shadowy, non-elected, non-accountable organisations to decide what gets through and what is dropped. We do not need a censored Internet - it is used for so much more than browsing the web, and these other applications will suffer with this sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut approach taken by Cameron.

    Personally, I believe the best approach to managing access to this kind of material and staying safe online is through education - something which each and every parent should discuss with their child, in the same way that they teach them to cross the road.

  • by MrDoh! (71235) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:29AM (#44349747) Homepage Journal
    Plus of course the gov now has to decide what IS and is NOT classed as Pornography. Are we going to get to the point of famous works of art being flagged? It's going to happen. Or a family that assumed everything was locked down, go into little Timmy's room to find him playing with himself to a picture of The Birth of Venus, then provoke moral outrage. Destroy the art, burn the books (that describe immoral acts). Amazing stuff, it's always the political right that believe in personal responsibility (as this sort of thing should be, take the laptop away, put it in the family room, adult supervision for 'the kids' sake) that does the heavy handed censorship. Plus, every dad's going to be asking little Timmy how these 'Vee pee enns' work.
  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:43AM (#44349933) Journal

    I'm not sure you understand how the internet works. You see, you send a *request* for something, and the reply contains that information. You don't turn the computer on and it just starts streaming porn to your desktop*. There are already inexpensive packages you can install on your machine to filter most pornographic sites which reach your computer.

    *for all I know, there's an inexpensive package for that, too.

  • by macraig (621737) <mark DOT a DOT craig AT gmail DOT com> on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:44AM (#44349945)

    This wont end cleanly

    This won't END.

    FTFY

  • by amck (34780) on Monday July 22, 2013 @09:48AM (#44349981) Homepage

    As all content transfer moves to the internet, the government has now effectively made itself responsible for it.

    This isn't a "porn filter", this is a filter for all communications the govt decides it doesn't like. Including porn.

    Questions:
    (1) Are you going to block playboy.com ?
    (2) Can I get playboy vi Amazon.com, Apple Store, Google Play, then? With a prepaid credit card? Why not?
    When all this material moves to these sites, are you going to block them ? block tumblr, imgur, etc?

    Why not block google.com?

    Why am I being expected to out-source my morality to the ISPs webfilter?

  • The not unreasonable assumption is that if a child can find porn, then an ISP can automate the process of finding it and blocking it. To the layperson, the idea that all these clever people can come up with a way to search the internet and classify content and even rate the quality of that content but are suddenly flummoxed by coming up with a way of reliably blocking porn that kids can find sounds more like "well, we don't want to block porn, so we'll tell you it's impossible and tell you that you don't understand the internet".

    Fuck off moron. Install nanny ware for your kid if you're a concerned parent. You don't parent the fucking nation. Retard.

  • by misexistentialist (1537887) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:28AM (#44350491)
    Never understand you people who think that being murdered by a gun is worse than being murdered by other means, when it is obviously superior. Now if you want to quote the real statistic instead of your perverted masochistic one, the homicide rate is indeed still higher, but a large part of that difference is due to other factors.
  • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:34AM (#44350549)

    There are lots of bad arguments though. The standard approach is to swiftly change the topic: Whenever the block is being discussed, rapidly turn the conversation towards child pornography or (second choice) graphically violent pornography. It's much easier to win support for blocking those. The trick is to simply ignore the existance of regular non-child pornography as much as possible.

    For example, look at how Cameron announced the block officially: https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/the-internet-and-pornography-prime-minister-calls-for-action [www.gov.uk]

    There's some general fluff by way of introduction in the first section that can be ignored - that's just padding about the value of the internet in a somewhat pathetic attempt to reassure people he does value free speech really. But when it comes down to the meat of the argument, approximately half of the length of the speech is about child pornography. Why? There is already a national filter for this. It's already illegal. Nothing is changing in that area beside granting the IWF permission to investigate rather than just act on reports, and a demand that google needs to do something. It's in there because it presses the 'outrage button' - after a long talk about the evils of child porn, something loathed by all, the reader is in a moral-crusadin' mood and ready to condemn just about anything given half a chance.

    It's quite fun to figure out what he actually saying. It's a true political speech: Riddled with contradictions and a few outright lies. My personal favorite is 'This has never been a debate about companies or government censoring the internet but about filters to protect children at the home network level,' followed later by 'And, in a really big step forward, all the ISPs have rewired their technology so that once your filters are installed, they will cover any device connected to your home internet account.' I'm not sure if this is an attempt at doubletalk, or simply that his speechwriter doesn't actually know the definitions of 'internet,' 'home network level' or 'install.' Or 'rewire.'

  • by DeathToBill (601486) on Monday July 22, 2013 @10:41AM (#44350635) Journal

    Speaking of apples-to-oranges comparisons, you've quoted the homicide rate for the USA and the overall gun death rate for the UK. Homicide rates are 3.6 per 100,000 in the USA vs 0.04 per 100,000 in the UK (90 times higher) and the overall gun death rate is 10.3 per 100,000 in the USA vs 0.25 per 100,000 in the UK (41.2 times higher).

    10.3 people per 100,000 is not almost nothing. That means that over your 75-year life, you have a 1 in 129 chance of death by being shot. It's not likely as such, but not odds I'd be happy living with, either.

  • What parents? WHAT UNFIT PARENTS?

    That would be us. It's no big deal.

    Mine is a new teenager. She's been on the internet unsupervised for a good three years. Sit down for this bit: we also let her loose on the BBC's website when she was a toddler, all the time we were in the room next door doing boring household chores. Lock us up and throw away the key.

    We check in on her from time to time. We're mostly greeted with grunts and "can't you see I'm busy chatting to my friends?". We ask about things she's doing. Mum checks her Facebook. I ask questions; questions like "how many accounts do you have on Facebook?". I'm not stupid, even if her mother is.

    Facebook:

    Here's an issue. Teenage daughter likes buying clothes with her friends, bringing them all back to my house, trying them all on like some fashion parade, and posting photos and videos on Facebook. I get it. It's what teenage girls do.

    These posts attract men aged 25-45 from an area of the world spanning the middle east to indonesia. They all tell her how pretty she is. How sickening is that? What should a parent do? Maybe Glorious Leader Dave can help?

    We've educated her to block these people and explain that there are a few nasty people out there. Wrapping her in cotton wool until she's 18 is not something we've chosen to do.

    Unsupervised? Yes. As a well rounded and balanced person, she has earned that right.
  • Re:Phew! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe (564877) on Monday July 22, 2013 @11:04AM (#44350933) Journal
    But guys on reddit had a good point : reddit.com/r/sex/ and reddit.com/r/lgbt/ are already blocked by UK mobile ISPs, they will probably be on the new blocking list. Yet these are not pornographic, they are about discussing about sex practices and advices for the first one, and about the lgbt problems and identity. These two things would have been invaluable resources for me as a teen. Blocking these are harmful to the children.
  • by nbauman (624611) on Monday July 22, 2013 @11:16AM (#44351077) Homepage Journal

    Well, they certainly won't allow sex with 14-year-olds, like Romeo and Juliet.

  • by 1s44c (552956) on Monday July 22, 2013 @12:18PM (#44351805)

    I think they should add religious content to the list of things they're going to block; maybe then people would start seeing the problem with such censorship.

    I'm seeing a pattern here, it goes like this:

    1. The government does something dodgy.
    2. People claim it's going to far but don't actually do anything about it. People claim that the government only has to go a tiny bit further then everyone will wake up and realize it's not acceptable. I.e. your comment '..then people would start seeing the problem..'
    3. People forget all about it and lose another tiny bit of freedom forever.
    4. GOTO 1

    The GOTO is conclusive proof that the whole scheme reeks of evil.

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