Cameron's Anti-Porn Program Tells ISPs To Do The Impossible: Only Block Bad Content; Don't Block Good Content

from the stop-not-controlling-things-you-can't-control! dept

The Great Internet Porn Firewall of Britain is now in full effect and, contrary to earlier reports, the no-porn filter will be mandatory even for smaller, "boutique" ISPs. How this will play with Andrews & Arnold, the ISP inviting customers seeking internet filtering to check with North Korea, remains to be seen.

All "questionable content" boxes are to be pre-ticked to provide maximum sanitization, per UK policy, and if someone wishes for a less censored internet experience, they'll have to go through the trouble of informing their ISP that they are indeed a responsible adult capable of handling NSFW material.

In addition, the UK government wants a guarantee that legitimate content won't accidentally get sucked into the filter. How it imagines this will be accomplished remains a mystery. I doubt anyone in Parliament will be staying up late trying to solve this problem as the government has decided to "allow" the ISPs to figure it out on their own.

Finally, DCMS demand ISPs give them magic beans (“We want industry to continue to refine and improve their filters to ensure they do not – even unintentionally – filter out legitimate content”) and threaten them with regulation if they do not answer to future demands, or “maintain momentum”.
There's nothing quite like a faith-based technological platform crafted by a crack team of professional busybodies and bureaucrats, especially one that assumes the only fuel needed is good intentions and the "momentum" will sustain itself into perpetuity. OR ELSE.

The not-so-veiled threat on the end really drives the point home. What happens if the ISPs fail to deliver the impossible with their inability to prevent something that is by definition unpreventable? What are the consequences of failing to "maintain momentum" or "proactiveness" or whatever term the government is using to redefine "doing what they're told?" The "strategy guide" spells it out this way.
And while Government looks to the industry to deliver, through the self-regulatory mechanisms already established under UKCCIS, we are clear that if momentum is not maintained, we will consider whether alternative regulatory powers can deliver a culture of universally-available, family-friendly internet access that is easy to use.
Jesus. That's frightening. If ISPs don't march in lockstep with Cameron's orders, they'll simply be beaten into shape by restrictive government mandates that ensure "a culture of universally-available, family-friendly internet access." If that doesn't sound like a slightly kinder, gentler version of any totalitarian regime's homegrown "internet," then I didn't just throw up a little in my mouth while typing out that quote.

Why would the government threaten to set up its own internet, one dangerously low on a.) blackjack and b.) hookers? For the children, of course. Every form of media, not just the internet, is subject to these guidelines.
This should be underpinned by a basic, common set of media standards, building on existing standards that already apply in many places. We would expect this to include:

• Protection of minors: including protecting children’s exposure to material that seeks to sexualise them, strong sexual content, violence, imitable and dangerous behaviour, any specific health priorities, safety of children in content and protecting against commercial influence.
Well, Cameron might want to contact the Daily Mail and ask if it's willing to stop sexualizing minors, something it's never been shy about doing even if the front page is making all sorts of noise about rampant child pornography. I'm sure Cameron will also be clamping down on advertisers who push products pretty much anywhere they can aimed at the wide open wallets of teens and tweens (or ultimately, their parents). (P.S. Have the cast of Jackass shot.)

The UK government's neverending quest to turn the internet into a Disney-esque wonderland where no one sees anything they don't want to and are never even mildly insulted is pathetic. And disturbing. Cameron's plans infantilize the nation's children and adults, treating them both as precious bundles of stupidity too incompetent to make their own decisions on appropriate content.

If Cameron's ultimate goal is to govern a nation of infants, he's well on his way. But he's going to find the behavior behind the disturbing images will continue on unabated. His solutions will work about as well as slapping band-aids on someone bleeding internally. At some point down the road, he or his successors will triumphantly point at the unstained bandages as proof of their effectiveness. And if something should actually mar the surface, the call will out go out for bigger bandages -- and more of them.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Marak, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:49am

    This is fucking disturbing.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:50am

    Every single ISP there would send a letter to all of their customers informing them that in good faith they cannot keep delivering a pure internet experience and shut their doors. If only for a single day. It will only work if every single one does it.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:49am

      Re:

      They do not need to do so, as the their will be a lot of people who do not follow politics that will wake up one day to find their internet suddenly filtered. The ISP should set up their call centre and web page to indicate how long it will be before the wait is to get the filter removed, and suggest it may be quicker to get David Cameron to order it removed, along with his phone numbers.

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:47am

        Re: Re:

        The ISP's should set up the call tree to forward all complaint calls to David Cameron's office.

        They should also implement a selectable forward list of every idiot who had a part in this.

         

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      RyanNerd (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:17am

      Re:

      And that is why this will not work. A unanimous front of ISPs will never occur.
      It will need to be enough of the public that doesn't want to be babysat by their government to rally against this stupidity. However this will not occur either because the Internet filtering is being hidden behind the banner of it's for the children!! What citizen wants to look like a jackass for not wanting to protect the children?

       

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    PaulT (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:50am

    Yep, just as I suspected, typical MO. Pick a subject that the baying hordes of Daily Mail readers can get worked up about and promise to "do something". Ignore and/or attack those pointing out that the solution is unworkable and force private enterprise to take the brunt. Set up a system so that if they miraculously succeed you can take the credit but if they fail you can blame them. Ignore the inevitable unintended consequences and find a scapegoat for those too. Reap votes from idiots until the next drop in popularity when you can find another scapegoat/distraction.

    It's like 1984 all over again but with exponentially more severe collateral damage when they inevitable fail. (By 1984, I'm referring to the year when the Daily Fail crowd got worked up about video nasties and forced films to be ineffectively banned and the law to be changed, not Orwell's vision, although in this case they're close).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 3:52am

    Only Block Bad Content; Don't Block Good Content

    you would be amazed with what you can do with computers these days !!!

     

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:20am

      Re:

      You would, because you're an easily impressed idiot only concerned with what solar panels can do.

      A solar panel engineer who lives in a den of Adobe thieves encouraged by the government.

      You have no superior morality to speak of.

       

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    Marak, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:11am

    The ac is right. Each isp should shut down for one day. It will get the attention this needs.

    Honestly this is scary as hell.

    Maybe its time to see if firefox has an inbuilt plugin to get around this or if i should whip one up.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:15am

    Cameron is an idiot. A moron who only gives a damn about lining his own pockets and doesn't give a damn about the people of the country or even it's economy.

    The man is not fit to be prime minister.

     

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    Andy (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:22am

    I swear Cameron once claimed to have "libertarian tendencies". His actions have shown this to be about as true in reality as Obama's claimed support for whistleblowers or his promise to make government more transparent. If ever there was a case of actions speaking louder than words, this is one such.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:25am

    Ineffective bollocks designed purely to appease the middle class Daily Mail reading, knuckle dragging morons who have nothing better to do than to come up with new things to be offended by.

    America, you think Obama is bad? Be glad you don't have Camoron.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:36am

      Re:

      The problem is not the people or Obama or Camoron but the news media which glorifies one act while vilifying the exact same act when performed by another.

      Freedom of the press always assumed competition in news gathering and in thought and was never conceived as an oligarchical monstrosity that produced one and only version of thought while vilifying all others.

       

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    s0litaire, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:34am

    A brave solution to the problem...

    ... would be for the ISP that provides Cameron and his cronies internet access to enable a filter especially for them.

    Every time they click a link they get a page saying:

    "This content you are trying to access may or may not be legal or it has been deemed morally questionable by the Government. Please enter your email address and name to confirm you wish to view this page"

    Have this pop up for EVERY link the politicians click. Let's see how long it takes then to ban filters... ^_^

     

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      ThatFatMan (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:03am

      Re: A brave solution to the problem...

      Well, I like the way you are going. However, I think the better course would be to just flat deny internet access to any portion of their government. This includes cellular services as well. Let them get their information from U.S. media. I'm sure the Obama administration has done an adequate job of filtering out media content for Cameron's tastes.

       

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    me, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:46am

    Remember

    That this is the samecountry that requires a license for a TV. It's sad however that their Jerry Falwell equivalment Sub Prime Minsiter wantsto control all media. One can only hope this kind of crap fails.

     

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      jayeff, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:50am

      Re: Remember

      To be fair, the TV licence isn't about restricting the use of TVs, but to ensure that those who benefit from the ad-free TV channels provided in the UK (i.e. all BBC channels) contribute towards their (relatively) high-quality content and lack of people telling you to buy their insurance or whatever every seven minutes.

       

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    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:51am

    "Ya Canna Change The Laws Of Physics, Cap'n!"

    We need a phrase to use whenever politicians and other tech-clueless types ask a computer expert to do something like this...

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:00am

      Re: "Ya Canna Change The Laws Of Physics, Cap'n!"

      That's easy, Pulling a Dave (could be in reference to most of his policies actually).

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 4:53am

    perhaps the answer is for all ISPs to just cease business? if no one in the UK can access the Internet, can you imagine what sort of shit-street the UK would be in? the only way to deal with a complete fucking moron is to act the same. trying to be a reasonable, ADULT in circumstances such as this, is impossible! and i still say that within a couple of weeks, 'protecting the children' will be the least importanr filter. the most important will be doing whatever the US government tells the UK to do on behalf of the entertainment industries and having the ability to shut down social networking sites as and when wanted so that there is no repeat of people being able to keep in touch like they did, using Blackberry etc, during the riots that took place in London some while back. the twat tried to get the network shut down then but failed. with filters already in place, that will make the task much easier next time!

     

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    gab4moi (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:03am

    fatboycam...

    In the end, the poms have only themselves to blame, they elected a cadre of fat, pale, inbred, toffee nosed, mouse farts and now find themselves saddled with the puking swill generated by a pack of penises with ears... and that's the good things I can think of to say about this slime...

     

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      PaulT (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:19am

      Re: fatboycam...

      "they elected"

      That's certainly debatable...

       

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      Anonymous Howard (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:17am

      Re: fatboycam...

      By your logic, you can blame yourselves (assuming you're from the US) for being spied on by your government.

       

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      Poor Pommy, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:11pm

      Re: fatboycam...

      Actually the Tory partly only secured 36.1% of votes, far less than a majority. And when you taken into account less than half the voting public even though voting was worth anything, then you will see things in a different light. BUT, as in most countries the general public are mostly sheep-like in obedience to the government, tacitly acquiescing to agenda of whatever regime is in government because they are too busy with Football. Or The Xfactor. Or some rich baby from some elitist bloodline who doesn't give a shit about them!

       

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      Toonsi, Aug 2nd, 2013 @ 12:14pm

      Re: fatboycam...

      No we didn't - it's a coalition government of two parties supposedly of opposite political ideals where neither had enough for a majority vote to rule so joined forces.
      Ridiculous really.

       

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:16am

    You may as well block all the 1's but allow the 0's....

     

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    Keeees, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:23am

    “We want industry to continue to refine and improve their filters to ensure they do not – even unintentionally – filter out legitimate content”

    There is exactly one way to achieve this, ofcourse.

    Don't filter anything.

     

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    RyanNerd (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:26am

    HAL

    I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that.

     

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:26am

    "Only Block Bad Content; Don't Block Good Content"

    Good luck with that:

    http://xkcd.com/468/

     

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    identicon
    Jasmine Charter, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:28am

    Remember...

    Remember... remember... the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot... I know no reason the gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot.

    Where is V when England needs him now?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:42am

    the US again, started this crap! look at all the attacks there have been against Google by those in Congress! now the UK is basically doing the same thing. Cameron expects Google to handle the filters that the ISPs implement. if that dont work, it's gonna be Google's fault, guaranteed! what needs to happen, apart from the obvious thing that Cameron and the UK government are taken to court over this blocking, as it is an absolute attack on democracy, is for all internet sites that are adversely affected by the filtering, intentional or not, to sue the UK government for loss of business! that should help to get a country that is in serious debt, out of the crap, i dont think!!

     

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    Ruby, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:59am

    I'm thinking this is yet another government project that is announced with a blazing fanfare where Cameron gets his picture in the press and is seen to be 'doing something for the children'.

    However, I honestly believe that take-up will be low, and as people find legitimate content (i.e. non-porn) is blocked, they'll start contacting their ISPs to turn the filter off. In a couple of years it'll be be quietly cancelled as another giant waste of money.

    The principle is, of course, an affront to a democratic society.

     

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    R.H. (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:17am

    Concerning Andrews & Arnold

    Wouldn't an ISP simply be able to refuse to provide service to anyone who doesn't choose to opt out? Make choosing to opt out of the filter one of the forms that one must sign when they acquire service. At least I'd hope that's possible.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:47am

    Filtering to that granularity is IMPOSSIBLE

    How can a ISP, which by definition is in the middle of the connection between a client and a server, distinguish between https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bunnies ? Note the "https"; I am using SSL/TLS, which is designed to prevent inspection and alteration by anyone in the middle.

    Yes, in my example you could for now use plain http, but that is irresponsible if you have an administrator account, since it would expose your password and/or session cookies. And that is not an option for all websites; github, for instance, is only available via https. Ever since Firesheep (read about it at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firesheep), more and more websites are using https, and that will only speed up since the recent revelations about the NSA.

     

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    Puddleglum, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:52am

    UK internet censorship

    As a musician I'm wondering how long it will be, before I can't write a political song criticising the gov, being flagged as 'inappropriate' or something like that. Is this just the thin edge of a wedge, lets face it if they can listen to our phone calls, read our emails and generally spy on everyone how long before dissenters are being arrested for being 'terrorists'. Most of my political songs are more socially aware than offensive ... so I'll say it now, (Please do not read if you are under 18 or of a Tory disposition) Camaron, you and your government are a bunch of greedy corrupt wankers!! except now you can't watch a porny film without someone knowing that you do, because you clicked yes!! ooops!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 6:56am

    I am polishing up my resume... everyone said all those late nights search for porn would never lead to anything. Now that 'Experince' will help me grade the content. Trust me, there is no software out there that can filter the bad from the good - it is a manual process that takes a serious commitment. I think I have seen enought to determine the bad porn from the good porn.

     

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    Lord Binky, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:02am

    I loved the watershed idea. Has anyone explained that the internet is global, so it's always after 9pm somewhere and always before 9pm somewhere else?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Cameron isn't just a zealot; he's an idiot

    Inferior primates like Cameron who don't understand the Internet...science...mathematics...or much else about reality...are utterly worthless. There is no point in arguing with them: they Don't Get It. The same with their followers: they're bleating sheep whose lives have zero value.

     

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    Mattmon, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 7:21am

    This is simple. Just implement the Evil Bit.

     

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    Kevin Flynn (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Ho hum, time to fire up Tor and enable HTTPS Everywhere.

    Not to sound smug or anything, but as soon as the Tories were elected I saw this day coming, because they tried it last time they were in power... along with cutting benefits for the disabled, single parent families, unemployed and seniors. [all of which they've done again].

    Cameron has no new ideas, he's just trying to relive the glory days of Maggie.

    The oly difference being is people complained more when Maggie did it, and the scunners were forced to back down a bit. Nowadays, we're all too bloody apathetically British to give a crap.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 8:43am

    The funny thing is you can still get around it. Although if he wants it so bad they should just filter his internet and see how he likes it when every page is blocked.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 9:10am

    "And while Government looks to the industry to deliver, through the self-regulatory mechanisms already established under UKCCIS, we are clear that if momentum is not maintained, we will consider whether alternative regulatory powers can deliver a culture of universally-available, family-friendly internet access that is easy to use."

    The first half of that sounds incredibly threatening - the government is going to step in and censor all kinds of things if the ISPs don't do it the way they want "voluntarily", and the second half sounds fucking like insane cult drivel. FAMILY FRIENDLY UNIVERSALLY INTERNET EASY FOR THE CHILDRENFORTHECHILDRENFRIENDLY FOR THE CHILDREN LORD CAMERON PROTECTS

     

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    Internet Zen Master (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:29am

    I just... wow...

    Okay, it's official.

    Cameron and is ilk are the idiots of the week (if not the year) in terms Internet competence.

    I mean, the idea that someone in the Duma over in Russia wants to ban profanity from the net ("vulgarity has no place in a civilized conversation." No shit Sherlock!) was bad enough, but this is just...

    For fucks sake, Cameron's absurd belief that the filters can filter the content with 100% accuracy is making the late Ted "Series of tubes" Stevens look Internet literate.

     

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    Eponymous Coward, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 10:58am

    Turn that frown upside down...

    Maybe this is an opening for some enterprising people to craft an educational program/media of 'Tor for Tikes' to teach young children how to route around government censorship. Maybe even throw in some "Crypto for Kiddos" too while your at it. I can see hackerspaces setting up something like this on the weekends as an outreach to the youth. This way you'll initiate a whole new generation into the skills needed to circumvent such bullshit. Obviously that's what the Cameron administration is attempting to do; condition futures generations to believe in and adhere to all actions of the nanny state as looking out for their best interests. I say fight fire with fire and use the rebelious spirit of youth to help counter such actions.

     

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    gorehound (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 11:55am

    Cameron sounds like a real damn Arsehole...........reminds me of one of these Bible Thumping Bigot Far Right Cons to the Max and then given a Political Career.

    Sorry about this one UK People.Sounds totally disgusting and not Freedom at all.
    You guys really need to do something over this somehow.

    Could all ISP's do a Protest Shutdown of all Internet Services including what Connections the Gov Has ? This would make News all over the World.It would be a great Protest.

    Could there be some kind of Hack/Proxy/Browser plugin to Circumvent this BS ?
    Could you organize Street Protests/Petitions ?
    And can you get enough people to Vote out the guys who want this Censorship to happen ?

     

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    Richard (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 12:46pm

    ALL questionable content boxes will be pre-clicked

    Note that this includes "social networking" - i.e. facebook.

    So almost everyone is going to have to go through the process of filter removal.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    There's a parallel solution used in the US...

    ...as per the binding arbitration clause in service contracts.

    Whenever an ISP signs in a new client, they just have them tick the box to authorize receiving uncensored internet access. Company policy precludes us from provide any internet access unless you tick this box.

    That way, everybody opts in. Problem solved.

    A similar mechanism can be used to force current clients to accept this minor alteration in the ISP's ToS.

    Tada!

     

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    Puddleglum (profile), Aug 1st, 2013 @ 1:33pm

    Debbie does the Telly Tubbies

    Aren't people who upload porn just going to circumnavigate the filters by calling thier porn something innocent which will end up being viewed by children quite innocently, if you want to create a shambles ask the government to organise it.

     

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    preciousillusion, Aug 1st, 2013 @ 5:59pm

    "family-friendly" Internet.. As my parents are dead and I am the only child (having no children of my own) I really don't have any "family" and I guess the Internet's not really for me. Well, I just go back to my page-3-porn, leave my finished paper at McDonald's, comfortably knowing that any kid that might pick it up is seeing the content as an informed consumer.

     

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    Robers, Aug 7th, 2013 @ 9:38am

    I am agree porn must be blocked but not by government, it should be blocked individually by software or sites such as blockingpornsites.com

     

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