UK's New Mandatory Porn Filter Already Defeated By A Single Chrome Extension

from the it-can-be-beaten-with-one-hand-(tied-behind-your-back) dept

The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected. Two major ISPs have already put the opt-out-only system into use. As is to be expected, The Wall Moralizing Built has a few problems, not the least of which is its tendency to catch legitimate sites in its filtering system. This is a problem that will only get worse. The filtering in place now is a starting point. The system is built to be ratcheted up and as the government decides other search terms and websites aren't worthy of public attention, they too will be added to the blacklist.

Of course, your filtering is only as strong as your containment. And for all the tough talk from Cameron and various hand-wringers, the way past the porn filter is little more than a few clicks away.

Just days after UK ISPs began filtering porn at government demand (not to mention legitimate sex ed websites), a simple Google Chrome extension highlights the futility of trying to censor the Internet's naughty bits. The extension, dubbed "Go Away Cameron," simply utilizes a proxy to get around the filters.
The creator of the extension previously made a version to bypass web blocking in his homeland, Singapore. This extension isn't specifically targeted at any blacklist, which means it can also be used by anyone in any country, as well as by employees looking to circumvent web blocking implemented by employers.

According to the creator, Go Away Cameron is a private, smart proxy service that engages when blocking is detected. He also claims nothing about the end user is collected or saved, including the IP address.

So, that's how easy it is to circumvent the UK's porn firewall. Not that anyone expected it to be a challenge. Most probably figured using a proxy is all it would take. The astounding thing is that politicians obviously believe this lousy bit of state-ordained soft censorship will actually turn the UK into a less, I don't know, sinful nation. As is pointed out in the Reddit thread (and by Karl Bode at DSLreports), Australia's $84 million porn filter was circumvented in less than a half-hour… by a 16-year-old student.

The ISPs likely don't care that the filtering system has been defeated even before it's been fully implemented. They were largely against this move in the first place. The politicians, if they can be bothered to address the inadequacies of the system, will probably claim they're just trying to help concerned parents out -- and other citizens who would have no interest in circumventing the leaky system.

It's just as weak as critics knew it would be and just as useless as any other effort in the nanny-state department. It serves no greater purpose than to massage the egos and self-satisfaction of legislators who think public morality can be regulated successfully.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:37pm

    The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected

    That made me giggle

     

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  2.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:42pm

    The ISP's are only doing this in response to the government's "do it yourselves or we will legislate" campaign. They are doing it so they can go to government and show them evidence of what an expensive failure this blocking is.

    On another related note, if you read the description of the BT parental control categories, this one is particularly worrying.

    "Sex Education will block sites where the main purpose is to provide information on subjects such as respect for a partner, abortion, gay and lesbian lifestyle, contraceptives, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy."

    I fail to see what good would be served to block that kind of information.

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:46pm

    Law

    I don't know, but maybe the next step they take would be make law to require all citizen in UK, whenever use proxy, must go through their specified proxy.

    Proxies are easy to circumvent, but they requires an action to be circumvent. And such actions can be targeted by law. That's the point.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:51pm

    I knew blocking porn on the internet would be impossible. It's a fool's errand.

     

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    monkyyy, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:51pm

    Re:

    "I fail to see what good would be served to block that kind of information."

    vote grabbing of older populations?

     

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  6.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:56pm

    Re: Re:

    I was more talking about what is accomplished by parents choosing to use that category themselves. I can see it being used by religious types to force their bigotry and hatred onto their children.

     

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  7.  
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    jameshogg (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 5:59pm

    Re: Law

    Every computer connected to the internet can virtually act as a proxy. UK user blocked by a filter? Ask someone in the United States to give you the HTML code over Skype. Done. That's being a proxy.

    Asking to "make all unauthorised proxies illegal" is basically saying "make all unauthorised computers illegal".

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:13pm

    Asking to "make all unauthorised proxies illegal" is basically saying "make all unauthorised computers illegal".

    What sounds nefarious to some sounds like a good starting point to others.

     

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  9.  
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    Rapnel (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:14pm

    Re: Re: Law

    "make all unauthorised computers illegal"

    aaaandd we're off...

     

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  10.  
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    art guerrilla (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:31pm

    Re:

    yes, thank you, the point i was going to make: it doesn't matter what the 'difficulty' of cracking, or how 'secure' the technology is, The They (tm) simply make it 'illegal' to circumvent, like DRM...

    simply another means of Empire jacking up anyone at anytime: the kriminalization of living...

    all the manufs will put in 'clipper' chips pretty soon and be done with it, linux and linux users will be outlawed ('when linux is outlawed, only outlaws will have linux'), and there will only be the One, True EmpireOS, which will be presented in a subscription form only...

    so, i'm just wondering, will the barcodes be on our foreheads, or our wrists ? ? ?

    ...or will they use those little pixeley box things ? ? ?

    ...and will we get our own little matrix cocoon with -what looked like- BNC jacks up our spine ? ? ?

    crap, i forget which color pill i'm supposed to take...

     

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  11.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:37pm

    Re: Law

    "Proxies are easy to circumvent, but they requires an action to be circumvent. And such actions can be targeted by law. That's the point."

    I'm not sure that's really as easy as you think it is. Traffic can travel all over the world threw the Internet. Who's to say that the IP address you connected to isn't a legitimate website giving you a lot of data. Proxies act as web servers downloading the data to their own internal storage and forwarding it off as if the data came from them.

    Besides, a proxy block would be bypassed with only minor difficulty. Tor is encrypted, can't inspect a packet if it's just gibberish. There's VPN software that activates with a click of the mouse and is also encrypted.

     

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    Oh Please, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 6:45pm

    Circumvention or opening up for man in the middle?

    This story is truly funny. Yes, using a proxy outside of the UK will circumvent things, but it also opens you up for all sorts of other issues, such as data harvesting at the proxy, man in the middle attacks, and so on.

    The cure is worse than the cause, which is the point.

    For those using Tor, just remember, at some point, that "technology" will be looked at and defeated as well. The traffic patterns of someone allowing a Tor portal is different from normal web traffic, and those portals could end up getting cut off or have inbound connections limited so as to make them useless. It flies under the radar right now because it's not as big a deal as torrent traffic, but increased usage via things like the "pirate browser" will likely expose it and make it a huge target for authorities and ISPs.

    My guess is that, in the next 24 months, you will see many countries adopt laws that create direct liability for users and companies who provide proxies or allow their computers to be used as Tor style outlets.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Uh-huh! We all know that, by the time a kid gets to maybe 10 years old, he already knows far more than the average ISP admin, and is several light years ahead of ANY legislator or staffer could possibly be. Who's kidding which here?
    .

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:23pm

    We'll See!

    I can see this fiasco going through several stages - each more expensive. First they install a simple filter, knowing someone will defeat it quickly (See Australia). They wait to see how it's done for, maybe, a few weeks to catch all of them. Now they set up another dev team to defeat that. This continues through several cycles until the public discovers how many shekels are being blown and complains.

     

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  15. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    out_of_the_blue, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:25pm

    How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    All you had to do was OPT OUT, YOU MAROONS. Sheesh. And the porn fiends here cheer like a proxy was an amazing tech feat never before seen.

    The bit I like is this: "He also claims nothing about the end user is collected or saved, including the IP address." -- So, simply trusting a complete unknown, SO typical of today's maroons. Just put up a veneer of "don't be evil", and they believe entirely and forever that you're not evil. You is doomed, kids.

    Google's special invite to Techdirters in San Fran: come down to Smelly Wharf for our party barge! Enjoy steam-punk atmosphere of corrugated steel and all the claustrophobia you can handle! Party like it's 1899!

    15:23:58[q-530-4]

    ^^^ Heh, heh. That one still makes me giggle. We still have no credible explanation for those.

     

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  16.  
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    stryx, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:29pm

    Re: The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected

    The more grammatical version also gives a better joke:

    The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erect.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:35pm

    Re: Re:

    The RED one, always. Besides, they won't do anything so gross and obvious as tattooing barcode on us. They'll inject an RFID tag, just like our pets, and just like they're trying with some human babies now.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:36pm

    I won't use the Do Not Call setup for a reason. When you give them your data (for opt out) they have made it very convenient to put you on their campaign calls as those are exempted from the opt out. I don't need their "help" to lose the robocallers.

    Most of these opt outs contain cookies, as in tracking cookies. Delete your cookies suddenly your back at stage one needing to opt out again. Why bother with this 3 ring circus when you can just take care of it your self.

    Besides if it were an honest setup it would not be opt out, it would be op in. Funny how that always gets turned around where you are defaulted into it rather than out of it. That tells you without question something funny is going on to have you defaulted into it.

    Were I there I would not chose to opt out. I would chose to take care of it myself without leaving a data trail to beg to opt out.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Actually, outside of the Big Brother Law Enforcement implications, RFID chips in humans sounds pretty interesting. Use them to unlock doors, log into computers, open and start your car...the possibilities are endless. Now we just have to figure out how to mask them so NSA or FBI or the neighborhood nerd can't track your every move.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microchip_implant_(human)

     

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  20.  
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    Tavis, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 7:43pm

    Re: The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected

    That took me one long ha- err, difficult minute to get past giggling at that first sentence too. I'm convinced it was intentionally inserted there to get a rise out of readers.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymouse Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 9:16pm

    I have a problem with this extension. You have to log in to install it. I won't even pretend to do that.

     

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  22.  
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    Atkray (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 9:47pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    So to confirm, take the red pill but cut the blue wire?

     

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  23.  
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    John Pettitt (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 10:18pm

    Now we see the whole plan it's brilliant ...

    It's brilliant don't you see - the government forces ISP's to block all porn. Then some kind soul comes up with a free work-around that happens to proxy all your traffic. Could that kind soul perhaps maintain a large data center in Cheltenham? or maybe they got their cousins in Maryland to help out ...

     

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  24.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 11:05pm

    Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    Again, the guy who usually trolls here makes the most sensible post I have seen on this subject lately. You can just simply opt out.
    Here is another very simple solution for parents who are concerned what their children can access: Let them install software themselves and if it blocks something legitimate that they want to allow them to access they can unblock it for them. That is what friends of mine have done when their kids were young.

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 20th, 2013 @ 11:06pm

    i don't see what the problem is.  if they just machine-gun the entire block when they discover a dirty person, then after a while only clean people will be left.

    actually, the germans had some good ideas about that back eighty some-odd years ago.  maybe the brits just need to check that out.

     

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  26.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 11:15pm

    Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    One more simple idea. If Cameron is so concerned "for the kids" the government could fund free distribution for parents who want to use blocking software. It would be much cheaper than their present program of trying to "protect" everyone.

     

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  27.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 20th, 2013 @ 11:44pm

    Re:

    I put my home and my cell on Do Not Call and it has cut down on telemarketer calls. I do occasionally get a few recorded campaign calls around election time but I still think it is better to be on the list. Nothing will stop the robodialers like "Rachael from card holders service".

     

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  28.  
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    Fitzwilly (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:14am

    Re: Re:

    You could also get the device known as the Telezapper, but I don't know if it even exists anymore.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Take the little blue pill and cut the red wire!

     

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  30.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:36am

    Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    The daily fail readers wont buy that!

     

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  31.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:29am

    Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    Here is another very simple solution for parents who are concerned what their children can access:Let them install software themselves
    And here is another suggestion actually from a parent for parents who are sensible enough to know that their children are smart enough to circumvent blocking software too: Actually talk to your children about the dangers and wonders of the internet and educate them correctly instead of trying to pretend all the ickyness out there doesn't exist.

     

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  32.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:44am

    Re: Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    My brother in law had a very simple solution. When his two girls were teenagers the only computer with internet access was in the living room and access disabled when the parents weren't there.

     

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  33.  
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    Prokofy Neva (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:50am

    Violaion of Developer Policy

    This extension appears to violate Google's develope policy:

    https://developers.google.com/chrome/web-store/program_policies

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 3:12am

    Re: Law

    You can use a proxy inside a proxy did you know that?

    I don't believe your idea would work, specially since anti government censorship is well beyond those things already.

    People can even disguise their traffic as other traffic, goodbye deep inspection.

     

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  35.  
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    observer, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 3:25am

    Re: Violaion of Developer Policy

    There doesn't seem to be anything in there that bans this extension without some very twisted interpretations of the rules.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 3:54am

    the best way to defeat the UK porn filters will be to vote Cameron and his idiotic ideas, backed up by equally idiot people that know nothing about the internet and are more concerned with doing what Obama says, out of office at the first opportunity!!

     

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  37.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 4:41am

    Re:

    Also known as "the war on general-purpose computing".

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 5:22am

    Re: Re: The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected

    That's what she said.

     

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  39.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 5:24am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I don't think anything will stop Rachael. The feds took down 5 different operators of this "credit card intrust reduction" scam and yet the calls just keep coming. They use a War Games dialer and the caller ID is spoofed. It is illegal in my state to use that kind of dialer.

     

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  40.  
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    edinjapan (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 6:10am

    Firefox? Safari? IE? Coming soon????

    I can just see Japan's PM Abe suggesting something like this. We need this ported to other browsers and languages ASAP.

     

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  41.  
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    Ben (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 6:20am

    Re:

    Cookies? Sounds like nonsense. What if you have multiple users in a house, multiple devices? If using cookies, you'd have the possibilities of some users in and some opted out. It can't be cookies.

     

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  42.  
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    Wat Tyler, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 6:31am

    Re: Re: The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected

    "mostly erect"

    I would say "almost erect" better describes both it and the semi-flaccid* dickheads that bought their ways into British politics better to serve their master Rupert Murdoch.
    Blocking porn is just practice for blocking political dissidence, by the way.

    * Pron. '-flaksid'.

     

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  43.  
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    Peter Wakefield Sault, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 6:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You make it sound as though the NSA/FBI etc. do not already track our every move and listen in on or read every syllable we utter.

    Implants are about *control*, not tracking. You know what it says about the 'Mark of The Beast' (from Revelations, not that I'm religious or anything) - "None shall trade who do not bear the mark". In other words, you all be good little boys or you will be remote-control starved to death. It's the wet dream of every banker.

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 6:55am

    Filters

    As every porn-megasurfer, er I mean skoolboy kno, all porn sites already have filters so you can choose what kind of porn you want to you know well kind of do whatever you do that keeps Kleenex in business.

    I wish the Internet had a filter that could block out photographs of politicians. I get bad dreams after seeing them.

     

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  45.  
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    YoungCockRobinFromNextDoor, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 7:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    How did that stop an' me mates from getting them totally underagedly pregnant? Presumably they were chained to the dining table too. Nice. I can get off on that thought alone...

     

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  46.  
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    Joseph, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 7:21am

    Re: The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected

    Maybe they need some Viagra to get fully erected.

     

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  47.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 7:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    They are a happy close family. They had rules but no one chained them down. Both girls are in their 20's now. Neither got pregnant out of wedlock. One is married and has a child. Education is about all you can really do. Teach abstinence is best but at least be safe if not.
    I was raised in a strict home and it mostly kept me out of trouble. Couple of minor incidents.

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 7:30am

    Re: Now we see the whole plan it's brilliant ...

    That would draw in a few suckers but the rest would ensure the proxy was physically located in Russia or Brazil and not owned by the CIA/MI6/Mossad conglomerate.

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 7:36am

    Re:

    You mean there's an alternative? We should bring back Tony Blair and let him cause the deaths of another million Iraqis so we can view Internet porn without fear of being laughed at by GCHQ weirdos?

     

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  50.  
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    observer, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 8:20am

    Re: Firefox? Safari? IE? Coming soon????

    Firefox has Immunicity, and I think it works on any browser where you can configure a proxy autoconfig address so IE and Safari too.

     

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  51.  
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    observer, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re:

    It says a lot that Cameron is making the party that gave us the misbegotten DEA look like the lesser evil.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:13pm

    It amuses me that UK criticizes the Internet censorship of China, yet does the same thing here.

    Sure, we may be able to opt-out (and be placed on a pervert list), but it doesn't change the hypocrisy.

     

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  53.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:19pm

    Thete gonna start using this stupid porn censorhip to start going after internet communication techniques, anything they cant block and eventually "phase" out, proxies, vpns, apps and programs built to circumvent, any new technologies will be shot before its had a chance to mature and fully bloom.
    there is soooooo much wrong with this road.........and i for one will not be forgetting

     

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  54.  
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    Fitzwilly (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    'Our censorship is good, China's is bad-end of story.'

     

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  55.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    this has nothing to do with censorship or blocking anything, its just a 'co-incidence' that cameron just happens to own the company that implemented the filter list.....and got paid MASSIVE amounts to do so.....

     

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  56.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 2:46pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    the only computer with internet access was in the living room and access disabled
    If that solution ever worked as a general solution (and I have my doubts - it's not like porn was hard to find as a teenager before there was internet access), it's not realistic today. There are too many devices and friends with internet access.

     

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  57.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Dec 21st, 2013 @ 4:10pm

    Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    But, that would require the parents to actually do some parenting, instead of just sitting back and letting the ever so trustworthy nanny state do it for them, and we can't have that now can we? /s

     

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  58.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 8:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    You do have a point. When I was 12 or 13 back in the 60's My friends had a stash of Playboys one of them got from his older brother. If a kid wants to see porn I guess they will try to find a way. Making access more difficult might help but is not foolproof.

     

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  59.  
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    OldGeezer (profile), Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    Sine this is already being proved to be a massive failure blocking thousands of legitimate sites I don't think you will be perceived as a pervert. It just means you don't want to be prevented from accessing what you want by a badly flawed system. This fiasco proves what would have happened in the US if SOPA had become law.

     

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

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 10:03am

    Re: Re: Re: The UK's anti-porn firewall is now mostly erected

    Not necessarily "practice", but a platform thru which latent blocking happens on the sly (i.e. like the other platforms: copyright, terrorism, child porn, etc).

     

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

  61.  
    identicon
    Matt, Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 2:28pm

    Worse than nothing

    Having a filter in place that is easily circumvented is worse than no filter at all. A weak filter lets parents assume that the system will prevent their child from accessing porn, instead of being vigilant in "parenting" their child's online activity.

     

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

  62.  
    identicon
    tracyanne, Dec 22nd, 2013 @ 7:07pm

    No Firefox extension

    So I guess i won't be accessing porn any time soon

     

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

  63.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Dec 23rd, 2013 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    When I was 12 or 13 back in the 60's My friends had a stash of Playboys one of them got from his older brother
    Uh huh. And no doubt other, more hardcore titles. There was (is) always someone that can "get stuff" in a school.
    And even if pornography were suddenly and magically eliminated from schools, the main danger to children of it shaping their views on "real" sex, is likely to still be taken care of by other older children who claim to know. Either way, talking about it works way better than the pointless political moralising.
    Personally I find it hypocritical that our societies seem to feel no need to, for example, shield children from the increasingly violent images available on the news, but if there's a chance a teenager might see a picture of a naked body, or a depiction of a bodily function combined with (usually) pleasure... Shouting, arm-waving and politicians and every "moral guardian" group clamouring for the spotlight every single time.

     

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

  64.  
    identicon
    QuisCustodietIpsosCustodes, Jan 21st, 2014 @ 6:15am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: How can an "opt out" system be "defeated"?

    That would definitely save me man hours detoxing my mum's PC from my brother. I have seen Pokemon do things I didn't even know there was a name for. Ick.

     

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

  65.  
    identicon
    Fredrick Mayes, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 3:00am

    Re: Circumvention or opening up for man in the middle?

    As long as their are Computer Hackers and Computer Genuises ou there, There will be no way for their Government to stop it.Like the writer of the article said about the Filter in Austrailia. It was circumvented in half an hour by a 16 yr old. They aren't going to be able to stop it.

     

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


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