British Net Filter Now Says No To The Wayback Machine

from the if-you-can-read-this... dept

Last month, the Internet Watch Foundation, which maintains a child porn blacklist used by British ISPs, gained some attention after it blocked a Wikipedia page, making it impossible for UK web surfers to make any edits to the online encyclopedia. While they later relented, the episode highlighted the folly of trying to use blacklists and filters to limit access to certain online content. The IWF is back in the news this week, and it's being blamed for blocking access to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, an online store of old web pages. But unlike the Wikipedia episode, only users on some IWF blacklist-using ISPs are having the problem. Perhaps that's a bit better than a blanket ban, but once again, it provides a perfect illustration of why blacklists and filters often do much more harm than good. Are British child-porn surfers really being stopped by the blacklist? That's very doubtful. Meanwhile, plenty of people trying to access harmless content are being effected.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 8:45am

    "it provides a perfect illustration of why blacklists and filters often do much more harm than good."

    Ouch, I don't know how you go about gauging what's worse. People losing access to old websites or allowing access to child porn.

    While I do agree it is a nuisance that could be dealt with a bit more intelligently I think your statement is a bit disrespectful for the victims.

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:02am

      Re:

      People losing access to old websites is worse. It's like a library burning down.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:07am

        Re: Re:

        In this case it is not like that at all.
        It is like the library closing the doors to you. The library is still intact.

         

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      Washii, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:04am

      Re:

      >While I do agree it is a nuisance that could be dealt with a bit more intelligently I think your statement is a bit disrespectful for the victims.

      How is it disrespectful to victims to point out that a blacklist is doing more harm elsewhere, and nil good in this case? There will still be victims, regardless of this morality group's blacklisting effects.

       

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      Rob M, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:19am

      Re:

      "I don't know how you go about gauging what's worse. People losing access to old websites or allowing access to child porn."

      By this logic, we should block all internet access, ban people from using any sort of computer, printing press or camera (both still and film), and sequester all children from birth to adulthood in an area completely inaccessible by any media or adult.

      Because, well, it's for the children...

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:22am

        Re: Re:

        What logic?
        You can't even read my comment without misinterpreting it.
        I never stated that the blacklist solution was correct, quite the opposite.

        What I did say however was that the wording, specifically the choice of the word "harm" might be a bit thoughtless.

         

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      mslade, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 10:16am

      Re:

      Are you implying that blocking access to the Way Back Machine is somehow making things better for the victims of child pornography?

      Sweeping problems under the carpet does not make them go away. It doesn't even make them a little better.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 12:58pm

      Re:

      Ouch, I don't know how you go about gauging what's worse. People losing access to old websites or allowing access to child porn.
      Maybe it would also be better to gouge people's eyes out than let them access child porn. Do you want to volunteer to go first?

       

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      Rose M. Welch, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 4:02pm

      Re:

      In the Wikipedia case, the 'victim' certainly wasn't complaining.

      Blacklists do more harm than good because they a) stop people from legitimately viewing parts of the Internet and b) don't stop people from viewing child pornography. If they did, it *might* be different...

      But probably not.

       

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    Funger, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 8:55am

    RE: Anonymous Coward

    "Ouch, I don't know how you go about gauging what's worse. People losing access to old websites or allowing access to child porn."

    You statement makes the assumption that putting the blacklist in place is actually stopping people from gaining access to child porn. You're missing the point. If someone REALLY wants to find child pornography on the internet, then they are going to find it. No matter what filters or blacklists you put in place.

    All in all, it's almost impossible to regulate morality.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:04am

      Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

      No, I think you misunderstood my point.
      While I fully agree it is a terrible NUISANCE, you can hardly make the argument that it is causing me HARM.

      But if the filter stops ANYTHING at all on the kiddiporn side, then it has prevented real HARM.

      So I agree with what you are saying. But you are not understanding what my point is

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 10:12am

        Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

        No, I think you misunderstood my point.
        While I fully agree it is a terrible NUISANCE, you can hardly make the argument that it is causing me HARM.

        But if the filter stops ANYTHING at all on the kiddiporn side, then it has prevented real HARM.

        So I agree with what you are saying. But you are not understanding what my point is

        You have no idea what you are talking about. The victimization of the crime of child pornography happens regardless of access. What you are saying is that people having access restricted to illegal content is a greater good than the harm it causes in preventing them to go to a legitimate resource is absurd. You are preventing people from accessing content they want/need in exchange for them now being unable to access content most of them didn't want/didn't know was there.

        I would be like a city telling everyone they now close the only major street into down town because it provided access to drugs, and then telling the business owners that the fact they no longer had traffic was for the greater good.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 10:15am

          Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

          I understand it annoys you.
          But there really is no harm done to you.

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 10:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

            I understand it annoys you.
            But there really is no harm done to you.

            There is in fact hard done to both the person being restricted access as well as the site who is losing viewers. It's no different than a shop losing foot traffic. That is measurable and definitive damage.

            On the other hand, it does absolutely nothing to stop the victimization of children, so maybe you are just backwards in you thought process.

             

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 10:45am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

              Show me raw data telling me the blacklists do no good whatsoever. Regardless of false positives and false negatives.
              Show me they don't do anything at all but harm legitimate business.

               

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                Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 10:52am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

                At the same time, you should show me the opposite.

                 

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                  Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 10:56am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

                  I call bullshit now.

                  Your argument is based on the harm done to a legitimate website when blacklists are in use.
                  But you are at the same time arguing that no harm will be done to websites (or IPs) hosting child pornography.

                  So which one is it? Does restricting access to sites do harm or not to the owners of the site?

                  I understand your frustration with blacklists.
                  My only argument is the choice of using the word "harm" in the article.

                   

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                    Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 11:36am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

                    I call bullshit now.

                    Your argument is based on the harm done to a legitimate website when blacklists are in use.
                    But you are at the same time arguing that no harm will be done to websites (or IPs) hosting child pornography.

                    So which one is it? Does restricting access to sites do harm or not to the owners of the site?

                    I understand your frustration with blacklists.
                    My only argument is the choice of using the word "harm" in the article.

                    How does a sudden disruption of customers/viewers or possibly even employees ability to do work, not harm a business? Something like wikipedia, who relies on these people to maintain the database, essentially lost "employees" access to do their duties. If they had happened to other systems that were for profit, it could have been devastating to both the business and the employees who lost work time.

                    This is not a matter of "annoying", this is a matter of installing on/off valves on information services that could damage or destroy businesses for the sake of attempting to reduce the likely hood of a crime.... when the crime in question already has these methods monitored, so the reality is that it doesn't even impact it.

                    Blacklists do no work. It's very simple, if they blacklist a domain, the site can either change domains or wait for the interested parties to bypass the block. On the other hand, while those parties expect a difficult time bypassing security to violate the law, those accidentally impacted by blacklists tend to be impacted far more significantly. Those people do not understand why their service was disrupted, they were not expecting it, and they had not justifiable reason for being disconnected. Beyond the fact that blacklists do more harm than good, consider the fact that the people actually committing the crimes do not care at all if there is a domain filter or not. They commit the crime and produce their illegal product regardless, then after the fact, decide where it will be peddled. It's no different than closing down a particular street corner due to drug trafficking. The criminals will just walk down the block and continue, while everyone else will be stuck with the congestion/aftermath of losing a walk way.

                     

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                  usmcdvldg, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 11:36am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

                  I completely understand the idea behind zero tolerance in regards to child porn.

                  Its evil and wrong on such a pervasive level I defy anyone to argue the point with me.

                  That being said, Stopping someone from seeing a photo that has already been made and is available somewhere else hasn't prevented anything. The only way criminalizing or opposing, the viewing can prevent harm is if you can succeed 100%(or very near) of the time as opposed to less than 1% of the time.


                  The blacklist isn't stopping child pornography, and also it obviously has some type of tangible impact, it is most likely negligible. So the point is where do you draw the line and who draws it. Looking at old web pages isn't that important, well what if that company is employing hundreds of people, that now need to find new jobs, or must be fired. Or blocking access to an encyclopedia for showing an album cover that is literally available everywhere, including amazon(which ironically didn't get banned).

                   

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            PaulT (profile), Jan 15th, 2009 @ 11:03am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

            Really? You don't think that losing access to historical records can cause anyone any harm?

            "For the children" is a fallacy and a dangerous mindset. If the site has historical records of child pornography, work with them and investigate those users who access the stuff. Banning access to a site just because it *might* let people access questionable information is a horrible and dangerous way to act.

             

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              identicon
              Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 11:07am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

              You will not find me arguing for the use of blacklists.
              Practice reading. Then get back to me.

               

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            identicon
            Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 1:07pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Anonymous Coward

            I understand it annoys you.
            But there really is no harm done to you.


            Loss of freedom is a great harm. In fact, that's the whole point of prison.

            Plenty of Americans have died fighting for freedom. If the British don't value freedom them maybe the US should have let the Nazis have them.

             

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  •  
    identicon
    Boost, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 9:39am

    solve the root cause and solve the problem...

    Why do we need to stop people from watching kiddie porn when we could just stop people from making kiddie porn? It doesn't seem to me that watching kiddie porn causes any harm aside from the fact that it makes whomever watches it a real d-bag. What seems to cause the real harm is the people who make the kiddie porn. Cause after all, who do we think the victims of kiddie porn are? The kids or the poeple who find the websites?

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 1:09pm

      Re: solve the root cause and solve the problem...

      Why do we need to stop people from watching kiddie porn when we could just stop people from making kiddie porn?

      Because it's politically incorrect. What more reason do you need?

       

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        usmcdvldg, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

        Re: Re: solve the root cause and solve the problem...

        Its not just incorrect it's wrong by any reasonable standard. Usually I would agree with the solve the root cause and solve the problem mentality as it is usually correct.

        Take drug use for instance, doing a drug does not by definition exploit young people who can't defend themselves. You can link it to all kinds of things; terrorism, illegal aliens, organized crime or whatever you want. But it is possible to do drugs without harming others. In this case, if you solve the root problems in society you will solve whatever drug problem you perceive/actually have.

        In the case of child pornography, the only way to watch child porn is if a young child was exploited and traumatized.

         

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 3:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: solve the root cause and solve the problem...

          Politically incorrect is good enough for me. If you can't be socially decent enough to be politically correct then you shouldn't be allowed in decent society.

           

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      identicon
      usmcdvldg, Jan 15th, 2009 @ 1:55pm

      Re: solve the root cause and solve the problem...

      The only reason Kiddie porn is made is because there are people that watch it.

      If no one watched kiddie porn, or it was impossible for anyone to watch it, then it would be impossible for anyone to make money on it, and it wouldn't get made.

      By going to a web site and watching/downloading kiddie porn you are directly supporting the makes through add revenue.

       

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