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Iceland: Going From Protecting Free Speech Online... To Setting Up Their Own Great Firewall?

from the quite-a-shift dept

Over the past few years, we've seen various stories about Iceland really trying to position itself as a free-speech-supporting, internet-loving hub. There has been support from various government officials about more strongly keeping the internet open and allowing for innovation to bloom, hoping to encourage other countries to follow suit. However, it appears that not all politicians agree. Ogmundur Jonasson, Iceland's interior minister, is apparently putting together legislation that would build a great censorship firewall in Iceland similar to China's. Of course, as is typical with attempts to censor the internet, they're saying it's all about blocking porn.
"At the moment, we are looking at the best technical ways to achieve this," an advisor to Jonasson told the Mail. "But surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet."
Last I checked, Iceland did not send a man to the moon. But, even ignoring that, this whole idea is silly. Any attempt to ban porn (or really access to porn) will fail in two important ways. First, it will not actually block access to porn. People can and will always find a way around the filters and will continue to access porn. Second, it will, undoubtedly, lead to non-porn information being falsely classified as being porn and blocked. Both of these are problematic.

But, more problematic is even opening the door to a government mandated censorship regime. Even if you believe that pornography is horrible and damaging and needs to be stopped, this is not the way to do this. You are only guaranteeing further censorship. It is inevitable. Providing tools for censorship always results in eventual mission creep, as someone who doesn't like some other kind of information points out that "if you can do it for porn, why not for..." It's a very dangerous slippery slope.

Furthermore, plans like this completely undermine all of the efforts that people in Iceland have put into promoting a free and open internet. Those claims of building an Iceland built around principles of a free and open internet look somewhat laughable when the government's interior minister is looking to craft a blatant internet censorship bill.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 5:45am

    It's amusing how those idiotic moralists talk as if porn is something bad. At least we know there's someone sexually frustrated in Iceland. *cough*Ogmundur Jonasson*cough*

    Shall we crowdsource some hookers to make him a happier and more tolerant person?

     

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  2.  
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    Pixelation, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 7:50am

    "... they're saying it's all about blocking porn."

    Oh, you poor Icelandic bastards. Even the usually uptight US allows porn.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re:

    We could set up a Kickstarter campaign but I cannot come up appropriate rewards.

     

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  4.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 7:56am

    Re: Re:

    Having the moron getting the fuck off of trying to fuck up the Internet (albeit only our Icelandic brothers and sisters) sounds like a good reward.

     

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  5.  
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    Ninja (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That sounded weird, pardon my English illiteracy. I meant that keeping him away of the intertubes (even if only the Icelandic will benefit) seems like a good reward ;/

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    How would Ogmundur Jonasson seek about someone trying to impose the stricture of a moral system like Sharia law on him. The only difference is in the scale of the restrictions. If he would find that offensive then perhaps he would reconsider his current attitude because he is doing the same to other people.

     

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  7.  
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    Beta (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    call me Apollo

    "Surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet."

    Spoken like a man who has never built anything in his life. If one group of people performed an amazing technical feat, surely we can prevent all of our citizens from performing a very simple one.

    And I have to wonder what Jonasson is actually imagining when he talks about "tackling" porn. A small (albeit attractive) opponent who can be easily wrestled to the ground and made to submit to him? Or a large and powerful foe with big muscles and oiled skin... On second thought, I really don't want to know.

     

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  8.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:01am

    "But surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet."

    That has to be the dumbest thing I've ever seen a politician say, which has to be a new record. For many reasons, but I'll focus on the two most obvious:

    First, define "porn". You can't. It's a totally subjective term. Sure, hardcore penetrative sex might be unquestionably porn, but what about mere nudity? If so, how much nudity? Does the definition of such change depending on whether the subject is young or old, male or female? Going to the moon is easy by comparison - it's a clearly defined goal, the only hard part is working out how. With blocking porn, you can't even tie down an objective since every Icelandic citizen will have a different idea of what "porn" is.

    Secondly, the issue is not blocking porn, it's how to do it accurately without destroying perfectly legitimate material. Every attempt to implement any such block *always* stops non-pornographic material and *always* leaves some porn unblocked. On top of that, even if you somehow managed to accurately block every time, that one horny teenager is going to find a way to route around said blocks and then it's completely ineffective. Yes, that includes offline methods, which you're not going to be able to block - I shudder to think of some of the unintended consequences.

    Oh, and from the original (urgh) Daily Mail article that the Mashable link is referring to:

    "This move is not anti-sex. It is anti-violence because young children are seeing porn and acting it out"

    Sounds like you have a *parenting* problem... Just another "for the children!" excuse for implementing censorship on adults.

     

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  9. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    blah blah, running off at the mouth, now defending porn, and claiming they will stiffle everything, so if blocking porn will not stop it, then how oh mighty guru of the know it all, how do you stop it, you never mention that
    great way to create your bullshit and never talk how to fix it, oh thats right, you don't want anything fixed, then you would have nothing to cry about

     

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  10.  
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    Adam, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:07am

    Porn Blocking

    To block anything, you have first to define it very carefully. "I know it when I see it" doesn't cut it for an automated censor looking at a crowd of bits, so the minister clearly doesn't understand the impossibility of the task. Politicians simply can't get their heads around the Internet. Even when I was a teenager (60 years ago), there were phone numbers that would reach someone to "talk dirty" to you. No one ever figured out how to stop them either.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    funny how all these countries are adamant that stopping porn is only going to stop porn. yet again, we can thank the USA entertainment industries for starting this. if stopping porn was so important and going to be such a wonderful thing, why doesn't somebody actually stop porn from being made? the answers are simple.

    a) the USA earns too much money from the porn industry. even with the 'Hollywood' type of accounting, there must be millions paid in taxes.

    b) because really, no one gives a toss about porn (no pun intended) as it is simply an excuse to go down the road of censoring the what, the who, the where, the why and the how. it opens the door even wider for governments to introduce all sorts of 'we dont want that for general release' and for others to start 'we dont like this, it has to be permanently removed! once started, there is no stopping it and the net, regardless of what people think or say, will become worthless, only, however, to the ordinary people. the stopping of the free flow of information, everywhere, is exactly what governments want to stop and this type of stupid thinking is just the beginning!

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:11am

    "But surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet."

    Why not try for something easier, like cold fusion, or a cure for cancer?

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:14am

    "But surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet."

    I think that is his answer. He doesn't have to deal with internet porn if he goes and lives on the moon.

     

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  14.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Re:

    Whatever it is that's wrong with you, I'm sure that you have pills to take for it. Please start taking them again, it will make the voices stop, I promise.

     

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  15.  
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    Beta (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:19am

    Re:

    That reminds me, we also haven't found a way to stop cocaine.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:19am

    if 'dealing with porn' was so easy, it would have been dealt with already. it is too profitable, however, so wont be stopped. the other point is, does this idiot think for one minute that people dont think he is anything other than a fucking liar? this would just be the start. the trouble is, there would be no end!!

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:25am

    Re:

    so if blocking porn will not stop it, then how oh mighty guru of the know it all, how do you stop it

    You can't. No one can. Accept it, or kill yourself. Those are your only two options now.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:28am

    Re:

    There's only one way to stop it: A global eugenics program that removes the reproductive drive from humanity.
    I don't think it'd be a good idea, but there you go.

    Now then, since you can no longer call us hypocrites, please focus on the hypocrisy on your own side. Jonasson is the one who "doesn't want anything fixed" here.
    Let me specifically call your attention to the fact that he is not attempting to stop porn production, which you would think would be a priority for someone trying to fight pornography. His only goal here is to create the filtering system. Painting it as "stopping porn" is just his way of making the idea more palatable. It will not, and is not intended to, stop porn.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    blah blah, running off at the mouth, now defending porn, and claiming they will stiffle everything, so if blocking porn will not stop it, then how oh mighty guru of the know it all, how do you stop it, you never mention that
    great way to create your bullshit and never talk how to fix it, oh thats right, you don't want anything fixed, then you would have nothing to cry about


    Exactly. Apparently all Mike can do is point out how everyone else is stupid and wrong while saying how scary everything is. He can't just sit down and have a productive conversation on the merits like a normal person. What a waste. And a joke.

     

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  20.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:33am

    Re:

    blah blah, running off at the mouth,...

    Yes, you most certainly are.


    ...now defending porn,...

    The article doesn't do that at all, but even if it did, why is that a problem?


    ...and claiming they will stiffle everything,...

    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130211/02523121943/russia-uses-new-internet-ce nsorship-bill-to-silence-prominent-reporters-who-criticized-government.shtml


    ...then how oh mighty guru of the know it all, how do you stop it, you never mention that...

    Explain why you want it "stopped". If you wish to protect your kids - be a better parent. You know, stuff like talking to them about healthy sexual relationships and responsible uses of the internet. It's not any government's job to be a nanny for your kids.


    great way to create your bullshit and never talk how to fix it, oh thats right, you don't want anything fixed, then you would have nothing to cry about

    Once again, what is it that you want fixed?

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:38am

    Re:

    The only difference between Jonasson and Sharia is that Sharia could theoretically permit porn to exist.

     

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  22.  
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    VMax, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re:

    Then why waste your time reading it? There are millions of websites out there, go read them. Maybe you'll find something you like.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:52am

    Re: Re:

    To make such a statement is to state publicly that you have never been in Arabia.

    If you had been you would know that porn is a head chop offense, that all head chop offenses do not result in removal, and that removals occur after after all appeals are exhausted Friday morning after salah.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 8:58am

    Never knew Iceland sent people to the freaking moon. I must have missed their lunar launch program.

    That being said, I suppose I can strike Iceland off the list of countries to move to should the US get too out of hand. My list is shrinking way too rapidly for my comfort :(

     

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  25.  
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    fogbugzd (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    Re: call me Apollo

    Quote:

    "Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself."
    A. H. Weiler
    (1909 - 2002)

    Everyone who works in technology should have a sign like that posted in every conference room where you meet with non-tech people.

     

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  26.  
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    Bengie, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 9:11am

    Re: call me Apollo

    I think this is what you were going after

    "Surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle hate in the world."

    The day porn is gone is the day we no longer need politicians because the world is a peaceful place with no war or hunger.

    Not equating porn to war and hunger, just equating it to something that will never go away so long as humans exist.

     

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  27.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 9:17am

    Re: Re:

    The main point was about the attitude that one person can dictate anotherís morals. It matters who does the dictating.

     

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  28.  
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    Canadian, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 9:33am

    I bet all the free porn on the internet is stifling the demand for home made iceporn. Tisk tisk what a shame. They should not forget that variety is the spice of life!

    "so if blocking porn will not stop it, then how oh mighty guru of the know it all, how do you stop it, you never mention that"

    Who in their right mind would want to stop porn??? It was possibly one of the greatest incentives for man to build better faster technology.

     

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  29.  
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    PRMan, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 10:04am

    Re: Re: call me Apollo

    "Everyone who works in technology should have a sign like that posted in every conference room where you meet with non-tech people."

    Everyone who gives assignments to people who work in technology should have a sign like that posted in every conference room where you meet with non-tech people.

    FTFY

     

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  30.  
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    Gregg, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 10:14am

    Iceland is full of loonies

    Iceland is a country where the people feel they have created a Utopia, and ideal society better than the rest of the world. It's not a snobbish way of thinking, they come by it honestly. It is peaceful country with very low crime rates, well educated, employeed and primarily run by women.

    When democracy is no longer fought for and the population no longer remembers the needs to tackle survival issues (feeding, clothing, protection or sheltering the population)they start turning inwards to self policing on moral and ethical grounds. Simple Anthropology laws.

    When this happens, you have multitudes of good intentions pushing for cultural and legal changes that micromanage the population. Micromanagement policies, no matter how well intended, will eventually destroy the freedoms and liberty of a population.

    So no matter how good you have it, you should always fight for democracy and never forget it.

    We have a remembrance day every year to remember those that have fought in wars for our freedom. We should have a day to remember what we are remembering on that day. A day of freedom!

     

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  31.  
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    Gregg, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 10:19am

    Re: Re: call me Apollo

    Why does porn have to go away? what is the difference between porn and erotica?

    It's a war on young men is what it is. Oddly women like porn too, they just call it something else, put up a pink ribbon and spray Chanel on it!

     

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  32.  
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    Jotunbane, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 10:57am

    "Home Fucking Is Killing Porn"

    Sorry :)
    Had to be said.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re:

    Dumb politician: "Let's waste money sending a manned mission to the surface of the sun!!"
    Mike: "That's the stupidest idea in the long, storied history of stupid ideas."
    AJ: "WHY CAN'T YOU JUST SOLVE THE PROBLEM INSTEAD OF POINTING OUT HOW FOOLISH IT IS?!?"


    Get the point yet? There are some problems in the world that will never be solved. By Mike or anyone else.

     

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  34.  
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    DCX2, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 11:28am

    FYI...

    This was covered on slashdot, it's not "all porn", it's just "violent porn". No mention of whether consensual BDSM is considered violent, though.

     

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  35.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re: call me Apollo

    Or buy porn for their men, just to spice things up a bit.

     

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  36.  
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    Atkray (profile), Feb 15th, 2013 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re:

    If only it were that simple.

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 15th, 2013 @ 2:48pm

    Iceland...Firewall

    Sounds like this should be from the fire-and-ice department.

     

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  38.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 16th, 2013 @ 3:32am

    Re: FYI...

    Do you have a link, because that's certainly not what the other reports and quotes I've seen have been implying?

    "No mention of whether consensual BDSM is considered violent, though."

    It probably would, but that certainly brings up a lot of questions of how these things are filtered and detected, let alone defined. There's certainly no algorithm that can tell you whether or not something's consensual...

     

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  39.  
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    PaulT (profile), Feb 16th, 2013 @ 3:36am

    Re: Re:

    "Apparently all Mike can do is point out how everyone else is stupid and wrong while saying how scary everything is. "

    ...and here we have another anonymous tosser incapable of reading. Somehow, every positive article passes by you people so you can erect your strawmen. If you hate him so much, why do you keep reading? Are you a masochist, a moron or just a liar? Oh well, at least you managed to get the author of the article right in your whining, unlike some of your anonymous brethren - or you just got lucky and whined about Mike on an article he actually wrote. Whatever...

     

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  40.  
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    Corwin (profile), Feb 16th, 2013 @ 6:23am

    When are next Icelandic elections?

    This moron's career is not going to survive that.

     

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  41.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 16th, 2013 @ 8:39am

    Somebody protect the children!

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 17th, 2013 @ 3:51pm

    "But surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet."

    "We" can't send a man to the moon. Neither can the US, the Russians, the Chinese, or anyone else.

    Maybe "we" could send a man to the moon half a century ago, but we didn't problems with porn then either. Right?

     

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  43.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 19th, 2013 @ 4:52am

    Re:

    Tell you what, hurricane head up your ass. Why don't you ask John Steele and his pornographer buddies, fighting to the death for the sake of your copyright, how he feels about blocking pornography. Should be a great business decision for Sunlust if it goes ahead!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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