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United Kingdom Censorship Government The Internet

UK ISP Adult Filters Block Sex Education Websites Allows Access To Porn 227

Posted by samzenpus
from the surprise-to-no-one dept.
toshikodo writes "The BBC is reporting that Internet content filters being rolled out by major ISPs in the UK are failing to allow access to acceptable content, such as sex education and sexual abuse advise sites, while also still allowing access to porn. According to the article, 'TalkTalk's filter is endorsed by Mr Cameron but it failed to block 7% of the 68 pornographic websites tested by Newsnight.' The ISPs claim that it is impossible for their filters to be 100% accurate, and that they are working with their users to improve quality. I wonder how long it will be before one of these filters blocks access to the Conservative Party's website, and what will Cameron do then?"
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UK ISP Adult Filters Block Sex Education Websites Allows Access To Porn

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  • Can't say I'm surprised by this.

    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      The mass is stupid. To make it understand even a simple concept, it needs to hear it many times.

      The concept of filtering Internet will exist as long as there is an internet to filter.

      We must keep the "filters never work." chant going. Maybe in a decade a politician will say "We need to filter the internet!" and his PR advisor will lean and whisper in his ear "My job becomes harder every time you say stupid shit like that. Sir.".

      • I think we just need an IQ test for politicians. That's all.

        • by hawkinspeter (831501) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @07:19AM (#45734817)
          The problem isn't the politicians' lack of intelligence, but the fact that their motives aren't aligned with what the people want. Unfortunately, the democratic process ensures that the top politicians are the most power-hungry and effective liars.
          • The problem is not to identify this. The problem is to change it.

          • The problem isn't the politicians' lack of intelligence, but the fact that their motives aren't aligned with what I want

            FTFY. Your post is pure wishful thinking, Actually, when asked, the British public are widely supportive of ISP-level filtering to block pornography. The most on-point survey I can dig up[1] is from 2010, but shows that, even though only 16% of people think that a filter would be effective at blocking pornography and 60% think it would be relatively easy for technically-able people to c

            • I was actually making a more general point about politicians and the people's will. Certainly in the UK, the majority of people were against the Iraq wars and that didn't have much effect. There's lots of examples of politicians following or ignoring "the public opinion", so I think my point stands that politicians follow their own motives.

              I personally don't mind the "opt-out" nature of the filtering, but what concerns me more is the way that people are accepting that the internet is routinely filtered by
        • I'd prefer an IQ test for voters.

      • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @08:07AM (#45735027)

        The problem is that this is exactly what "the masses" want. And they are very eager to believe the promise that this is what they get.

        They don't want to deal with "that intarnets stuff". They don't want to be responsible for little Timmy's surfing habits. Not only because little Timmy usually knows ten times what they know about computers and can easily defeat any kind of "protection" they throw in his way. Not only because he simply grew up with it, Timmy also has about ten times more time at his hands, not to mention a whole schoolyard of information on how to thwart any and all parental blocking and filtering. Plus, unlike for his parents, it's quite a bit of a status symbol for Timmy if he can evade his parents' directives, that's something you can brag about amongst your peers.

        What his parents want is that magic little box that makes all the stuff they don't want go away. Porn, predators, violence... they don't want Timmy to see that. But they do want the internet as their nanny. Just like the TV was. Why oh why can't there be some watershed on the internet? It did work on TV, didn't it?

        And no, I'm not kidding. That question actually does get asked and is a prime example of what people do NOT know about it. And why it is easy to trick them into believing any kind of snakeoil you promise them. Because they want that snakeoil to work. They want their perfect nanny. They want the internet to be just like TV was, a neat way to get rid of your kids but not be seen as a bad parent.

    • by aitikin (909209)
      I still love how my highschool's filter would stop you from going to hotmail.com but not hotmale.com until the school paper did a story on it. Afterwards, the girls who knew about it were outraged.
  • by mwvdlee (775178) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @03:18AM (#45734023) Homepage

    The ISPs claim that it is impossible for their filters to be 100% accurate

    Nobody's asking for it to be 100% accurate, but there's a huge difference between 100% and just 93% accurate.
    Considering this is automated restriction of speech, you'd better make damn sure you're atleast in the 99.99% range of accuracy.

    • by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @03:26AM (#45734049)

      These filters are completly useless against anyone actively trying to subvert them. CGI proxies, SSH tunnels, VPNs, and the plain old 'google until you find something that slips through.' Children do know these tricks, or know a friend who will show them - they pick it up at school, finding games to play during lessons. Plus it only filters websites - there is still p2p, files exchanged with friends on IM, sexually explicit zones on social platforms*. It's almost useless. The best a filter can hope for is to stop people from accidentally stumbling across porn while looking for something else - and that is something we just don't need. While certain elements of government and pressure group may believe that glimpsing a penis traumatises children for life, there is no real evidence for this. Children are just not that fragile. A better approach is to just explain to them that there are naughty pictures on the internet and they should just close the tab.

      * There's some really kinky stuff on Second Life.

      • by wvmarle (1070040) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:03AM (#45734569)

        While certain elements of government and pressure group may believe that glimpsing a penis traumatises children for life, there is no real evidence for this. Children are just not that fragile. A better approach is to just explain to them that there are naughty pictures on the internet and they should just close the tab.

        And at the same time YouTube is allowing snuff movies again. Specifically those of beheadings by terrorist groups and so. But of course seeing someone's head being chopped off is far from as traumatising as seeing two people having fun without clothes on.

        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          But of course seeing someone's head being chopped off is far from as traumatising as seeing two people having fun without clothes on.

          Or, horror of horrors, just seeing a human breast and nipple (notwithstanding the fact that most kids in the world see their first one within a few hours of being born).

      • On the other hand, if you want random unrelated contents blocked, these filters are excellent and deserve a broader deployment. For example, as we all know plastic modelling (as in 'building styrene scale models') is a horrible subversive passtime that is looked upon by government officials and search companies as unacceptably original and therefore obscene. As such, it is completely acceptable that doing a Google image search for '[scale] [machinery name]' removes half the results because they supposedly a

        • by Smauler (915644)

          Googling 'stamen Rosa' results in pron.

          No, it doesn't. When did you last try it?

      • by vakuona (788200)

        If you want to subvert the filter, you opt out!

        No need for fancy cgi proxy, ssh tunnel vpn nonsense.

        • You're then proclaiming to anyone who uses your connection that you went to the trouble of selecting 'porn mode.' That's asking for awkwardness when friends/family/co-workers/girlfriend visit. It could even have legal implications in things like divorce or child custody - if the ex wishes to paint you as a dirty perv, that gives them the ammunition to do so.

          Plus there are lots of over-eighteens who still live with the parents, with the cost of living as high as it is these days. I'm in my late twenties, and

    • The ISPs claim that it is impossible for their filters to be 100% accurate

      Nobody's asking for it to be 100% accurate, but there's a huge difference between 100% and just 93% accurate.
      Considering this is automated restriction of speech, you'd better make damn sure you're atleast in the 99.99% range of accuracy.

      Not gonna happen - you just can't make the filters that accurate. The point you seem to be missing is that the people implementing the filters (the ISPs) have been saying all along that it can't be done and they don't want to do it. But the government has ignored them and basically threatened to legislate unless the big ISPs implement filters. So the big ISPs know they have to implement filtering either way, and figure that if they do it "voluntarilly" (i.e. because of threats rather than because of legi

  • It could go down either for porn or "hate speech", which Cameron is wasting no time adding to the filters [dailymail.co.uk]. The lulz will be heavy then.

    • by Spad (470073)

      Given the amount of thinly-veiled paedophilia on the Daily Mail website ("Phwoar! This 14 year old looks all grown up, nudge nudge, wink wink") it really should be on there already.

  • by Buchenskjoll (762354) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @03:22AM (#45734033)
    no, actually I don't. In fact I love it. I told you so, I told you so, I told you so ...
  • by paavo512 (2866903) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @03:30AM (#45734065)

    ISPs claim that [...] they are working with their users to improve quality.

    One question: how can the users know about a blocked sexual education site in order to request unblocking it?

    • by xelah (176252)
      And, possibly more important: how can the operator of a site know in order to request unblocking it? They're much more likely to be willing to go to significant effort to make that happen. I suspect that the filter writers will not want this to be easy - the last thing they'll want is to spend all their time and money handling disputes.
    • by Xest (935314)

      Because most of the information aid these issues are bullshit and only effect ISPs you'd be stupid to go with on the first place?

      Even PlusNet which is owned by BT neither has a default filter nor was effected by the court ordered blocks on the likes of the pirate bay.

      If you're affected then it's your own stupid fault for choosing such crappy ISPs. The rest of us who choose sensible ISPs just aren't affected in the slightest. I don't even know what any of these block pages look like and I've expended zero ef

      • by Builder (103701)

        Could you please provide a list of FTTC ISPs that aren't being forced to implement the filter. Thanks.

        • Could you please provide a list of FTTC ISPs that aren't being forced to implement the filter. Thanks.

          AFAIK the only ISPs that are implementing the filters are BT, Virgin, TalkTalk and Sky. So take your pick out of all of the others (of which there are a fairly large number).

  • by isorox (205688) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @03:32AM (#45734073) Homepage Journal

    So I'm on BT, and like most people I've replaced the terrible "home hub" with a simple 4 router solution, 5G backbone to distribute wired around the house, single 2.4G AP for non-wired devices, OSPF to manage it all.

    It's connected upstream to the VDSL via a pppoe (username bthomehub@btbroadband.com, no password), and the central DNS proxy uses either 4.2.2.2 or 8.8.8.8 upstream.

    I've spent the morning scientifically browsing lots of porn sites, and haven't found a single one blocked. A google search for "porn" reveals the following sites on the first attempt, all work just fine.

    http://www.pornhub.com/ [pornhub.com]
    http://www.youporn.com/ [youporn.com]
    http://www.redtube.com/ [redtube.com]
    http://www.porn.com/ [porn.com]
    http://www.xnxx.com/ [xnxx.com]
    http://www.perfectgirls.net/ [perfectgirls.net]

    The search also brings up the following site
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ [dailymail.co.uk]

    Which is blocked as being morally unwelcome in my house.

    What am I doing wrong?

    • by Dagger2 (1177377)

      You aren't turning the filters on. If they were on, access to non-BT DNS servers would be filtered.

      • by isorox (205688)

        You aren't turning the filters on. If they were on, access to non-BT DNS servers would be filtered.

        Right, but I thought these filters went on by default? The BT DNS servers were terrible, hence I changed from them. I was expecting them to be stealing UDP53 traffic, but they're not.

        • by Rande (255599)

          Currently it's _new_ connections or connection switchers that have it turned on by default.
          Others will have it turned on next year sometime.

        • by oobayly (1056050)

          No, as far as I know it'll be switched on for new BT customers, but current customers will be contacted to see if they want to opt in.

          It'll be interesting to see if this applied to our leased line from BT.

    • by AHuxley (892839)
      Could also be for a new set of ISP users?
    • As a test, I took a look at each of your mainstream porn site. Each of them has at least one video depicting elements of rape on its first page.
      When Cameron has its way, it will be a criminal act to visit any of those sites.

      • by xelah (176252)
        One man's 'depiction of rape' is another's depiction of consensual bondage or role play. You can bet that if depictions of rape become criminal (and, as always, mainstream films will get an opt-out because people who watch those may be 'one of us' instead of 'one of them') then some perfectly nice, considerate, non-violent and non-malicious people will end up with their lives ruined whilst the definition is sorted out. As with teenagers charged over sexting (to protect teenagers, obviously), law can too eas
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Depictions of rape are actually already illegal in the UK, but the prosecution would have to convince a jury that it is violent and non-consensual. Typically all "obscenity" in the UK is determined by a jury, but in the case of violent porn there is more definitive language in the bill.

      • "Elements of rape"? You realise that what you wrote could be considered libel as you're accusing the people involved of criminal acts? Do you have any evidence that rape was in any way involved in any of the acts depicted?
        • by loufoque (1400831)

          It's a depiction. It doesn't mean it is real.
          (In truth, it probably is real to some extent in the sense that the women are truly being subjected to abuse even if they did agree to it for the purpose of filming)

          • Yep, that's kinda what I was getting at. Rape cannot be agreed to as then it's no longer rape (where "agreed to" means not against their will).
    • by jonbryce (703250) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:03AM (#45734383) Homepage

      The filters are default-on for new customers, but off for existing customers unless you ask for them to be switched on. Very few people will be using them at the moment.

    • by Drethon (1445051)
      Your moral compass is misaligned. Some more time with the ISP filter should help recalibrate it.
  • ...that there's a country even more batshit crazy than us here in the USA!
  • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @04:18AM (#45734207)

    I was staying at a resort in Utah a couple months back and they had a filter on the internet connection. My favorite web comic was considered profane. Another one had one panel blocked because it had "gay" in the image file name. (They were introducing a new, gay character.) Foobies was obviously blocked. But I could GIS page after page of triple X action. Of course, the filter blocked all kinds of non-pornographic material. Got around it by using a VPN to a system that didn't filter my requests.

  • I'm not surprised they can't get filters right, they can't get anything right. I joined TalkTalk in December last year as the price is attractive. They are the worst ISP I have ever had the misfortune to sign up with. Go-Live dates that came and went, with no connection. Engineer visits. Incorrect billing. Horrible network congestion rendering internet use nigh on impossible during peak times. The list is endless with my woes. My 12 month contract is up in a few days and I will never re-sign with this compa
  • This is, supposedly, what this is all about. So why not ban the ones that really cause damage: violent sites (people shooting people, stories about murder), religious sites (think of the guilt complex that many catholics have, islamic fundamentalist sites, ...), facebook (nuff said), ... ?

    We will never agree on what causes damage, the current list has more to do with the daily mail tory electorate than any rational sense.

    • by coofercat (719737)

      So perhaps the answer is to now 'lobby' for more filtering, along the lines of what you suggest. The aim to be that the only thing not blocked will be the BBC. Once we've got to that level of obvious stupidity, start voting for someone who'll undo it all.

  • I am a traffic shaping expert for an ISP. The vendors all lie. They all claim they can classify anything with magical accuracy. In reality, they classify maybe 80-90% of traffic correctly and it's always a moving target. Anything special that needs to be classified has to be home brewed in house for the traffic shapers to classify the traffic correctly. It will never work. Maybe the UK can pass a law that all computers must be monitored by cameras, then they can 'create jobs' by paying people to watch peopl
  • Ignorance doesn't protect anyone, good knowledge does. It is a shame that people can't talk to their kids about stuff they might encounter, and instead turn to government coercion to try to keep the blinders on. This leaves the kids completely unprepared when they inevitably encounter that horrible thing they don't know anything about.
  • Sounds like the filter would be properly blocking obscene material in that case.

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