When The IT Manager Determines If You're A Sick Pervert Who Should Go To Jail

from the an-example dept

We’ve written before about how mandatory anti-porn filters don’t work — even bringing up the specific example of Vodafone. Last year, the mobile operator decided it needed to implement some sort of porn filter. To deal with people who wanted access to blocked content, they required people to go ask for permission to view porn — even if they only wanted to view pages that were incorrectly blocked. In fact, it turned out that an awful lot of sites were incorrectly blocked, including news sites and even some Blackberry email accounts. That was over a year ago, and apparently Vodafone hasn’t worked out the kinks. In fact, it gets worse. Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain is in the UK for a conference and using a wireless data card from Vodafone. In doing some research, he was trying to find some info about a specific US court case (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition) concerning the legality of “virtual” child porn. He did a search on “virtual child pornography case,” and not only was it blocked (even after he got his “porn license” from Vodafone), but he was told that an IT manager from Vodafone would be reviewing his search to see if he tried to access anything illegal. He was trying to do research on a court case for a conference he’s attending, and suddenly he’s discovering that a random IT manager at Vodafone will now be determining if he broke some sort of child porn laws in the UK. It seems a bit extreme.

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Comments on “When The IT Manager Determines If You're A Sick Pervert Who Should Go To Jail”

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CloakedMirror says:

Great example of why xxx TLD should be mandatory

If the xxx (triple X) TLD was made mandatory for those that provide porn, then searches like that made by the professor wouldn’t have to be filtered to the extent that they are.
Then companies like VodaFone would be able to allow all the access you like to any site you wanted. If any porn provider broke the TLD requirement, you simply cut them off.

DV Henkel-Wallace says:

Re: Great example of why xxx TLD should be mandato

the .XXX TLD might sound like a good idea, but in practice it won’t make any difference for a couple of reasons. On is of course the equivalent of the whitehouse.com issue. The other is that the definition of “porn” varies from place to place. In some jurisdictions a breast cancer information site that included pictures of healthy breasts would be considered racy and to be controlled. Which should be in XXX and how would “Mandatory” be be defined, much less enforced?

These are just practical examples, ignoring philosophical issues.

Just Me says:

Re: Great example of why xxx TLD should be mandato

Let me say right away that I don’t think people should be allowed to view the Big 3 types of bad pr0n (kids, animals, necro).

Also, filtering is bad for many reasons.

Even having the XXX TLD, which I agree is a good idea that should have been implemented back in ’95, I don’t think it would help in this example. He looked up a bad phrase. If you have a filter, it should be looking for bad phrases.

Anonymous Coward says:

Who's really to blame?

The bad guys always mess things up for everyone else. If there were no porn sites, there would be no need for blocking software. If there were no sexual perverts, there would be no need for porn. If there were no pedophiles, there would no child porn sites. Lets place the blame where it really belongs.

robert lesieur says:

Re: Re: Who's really to blame?

thats sick,i have 16 yes i said 16 kids,11 grand kids,4great grand kids,i have never had a problem with any of them, i,m a great grand daddy and none of them have ever given me worry,why,because talk to them, be their when they need you, they don,t bite, explain with out threats,don,t expect churchs,schools and administraters to do it for you, and keep your hands to yourself,no loss of temper.

robert lesieur says:

Re: Perver

yes it does happen,i,m not being cold,i had it happen to me so i know what i,m saying, but what are you going to do, kill everyone,9 chances out of 10 these guys were deprived of what you are depriving your kids of,UNDERSTANDING, AND LOVE, AND THE KNOWLEDGE YOU SHOULD BE TEACHING YOUR KIDS and i do not mean teach hate,teach understanding

DGK12 says:


Filtering only leads to more victims. If they spent as much energy hunting down illegal content they might actually get somewhere. By going this rout they end up victimizing innocent people.

The guy used a bad phrase to look up legitimate content. If the search service were good it would not have to block the phrase, only the bad content. Even if it did not work perfectly, it would be a great step in the right direction.

Pete Austin says:

Background Information

Vodafone is not the first UK ISP to censor links – “if you are a BT broadband customer and you follow a link to a website that is suspected of hosting images of child sexual abuse – what is often sloppily called “child porn” – then you will get a “page not found” error.” BBC. But the United Kingdom has not enacted censorship legislation specific to the Internet – EFA.

Who assaults children? “In 70-90 percent of child sexual abuse cases, the child knows the person who commits the abuse … Those who sexually abuse children – the ones we know about and the ones we don’t — can be anyone in our lives. They are fathers, mothers, stepparents, grandparents, and other family members (uncles, aunts, cousins). They’re neighbors, babysitters, religious leaders, teachers, coaches, or anyone else who has close contact with our children.” The Campaign to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse. “In 2002, one or both parents were involved in 79 percent of child abuse or neglect fatalities … Frequently the perpetrator is a young adult in his or her mid-20s without a high school diploma … Most fatalities from physical abuse are caused by fathers and other male caretakers.” US Department of Health & Human Services

Fortunately my ISP is not worried about the queries I made to research this post, including child sex abuse percent family member (Google). At least I hope they’re not!

Daniel (profile) says:

Re: Background Information

Actually I wrote a website specifically for mobile phones [gx20.com if its still working – looks different when viewed on phone though] about the time they implemented this porn feature, i used to test the site regularly after making changes, after which they decided to block the whole site.

eventualy got to speak to someone and they listed about 3 url’s on the site that contained adult images, a couple were simple topless women [phone backgrounds], so you have to be over 18 to see a topless woman??? most of the images people wanted were women in skimpy clothing, and if you cant give people what they want [within reason] whats the point?

so that pissed me right off, i then moved to 3, now i can’t even see my own site at all as 3 wont let you browse anything other than their own stupid content – grr!

robert lesieur says:

Re: Re: Background Information

i watch everything i can,every kind of porn from the usa, and foreign countries, i still believe, talk to your kids, understand, stop making a mystry out of nothing, my kids are not perfect but they they know right from wrong,they want to know something they are not afraid to ask about it,when a child is assaulted its bad,but don,t make it worse by not talking to your kids about it

Bladesman says:

Re: Background Information

one point to remember in this is that ANY intentional access/viewing of child sexual abuse/’child porn’, whatever the media, is, de facto, a criminal offence in the UK; unless prior clearence has been obtained. E.G. specific Police Officers tracking down abusers, etc.

This is one of the few black & white areas. I expect that ‘the IT manager’ is not determining whether or not someone should ‘go to jail’, rather whether an offence has not taken place is unclear enough to bring in the police to take it further.

And if you think your on-line activity is not being monitored at several levels, you should be ashamed of your naivete.

bored keeping re-posting this correction says:

Re: Re: Background Information

Whats the matter? Do you not want to let calm reflection and consideration get in the way of a nice solacious story? (I note as well that the previously posted link to the proffs site is now missing too) http://www.isen.com/blog/2005/09/content-blocking-in-uk.html – that makes it pretty clear to me that the ‘threat’ comes from Network Manager, Said Business School Network manager NOT ‘Vodaphone’
. Read the ‘prose grab’ for yourself!

Bad Blogging and bad journalism

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