Canadian ISPs Try To Play Whack-A-Mole On Blocking Child Porn Sites

from the well-intentioned,-but-misguided dept

Joe Smith writes in to tell us that Canada’s biggest ISPs have all agreed to block a list of child porn sites so that Canadian surfers will be unable to reach them. This is, obviously, well-intentioned, but like similar blocks in the US in the past (and similar attempts in Canada to get ISPs to block other kinds of sites), it seems to be the wrong solution. While the Canadian ISPs have been careful about this, and are specifically working with one organization who will provide the list (so they don’t need to make the determination themselves), it still raises some questions about who actually creates the list. But, much more importantly, this is about sweeping the problem under the rug, rather than actually facing up to the problem. The people who really want to get to these sites will still figure out ways to get to them. If their ISP blocks it, they’ll figure out a way around the block. Meanwhile, the sites in question will keep changing and moving around to get away from the block. The real solution is to find those who are actually responsible for the sites and stop them, rather than pretending you can block access to a site. Blocking access makes people think they’ve solved the problem when they’ve done no such thing.


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Comments on “Canadian ISPs Try To Play Whack-A-Mole On Blocking Child Porn Sites”

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15 Comments
Panaqqa says:

Yup, sounds like a typical Canadian approach...

Of course if they block sites on a list, they can claim they are doing something when they really aren’t. Watch how, when perverts are still able to access them, they suddenly “discover” there’s such a thing as a proxy – and they then call for a “Royal Commission” to examine the “proxy problem”.

Obviously tracking down the people who put these sites up and arresting them is too much work – plus they can’t find the technical skills needed and still maintain their commitment to “workplace diversity”.

Spartacus says:

A good idea

This doesn’t seem so foolish to me. Sure there are plenty of ways around it and it would be better to actually go after the people hosting kiddy porn but that doesn’t mean that this will be completely ineffectual.

I would wager a lot of money on the fact that most kiddy porn sites are hosted outside of Canada or the USA and as a result Canada is pretty limited as to how much they can “find out who is responsible for the sites and stop them”.

Sure the people who are completely addicted to kiddy porn are probably going to keep accessing it. But to the person who dabbles in legal porn, having the ISP’s block the sites is probably a decent way to keep the casual porn-surfer from getting into illegal porn. I would bet that most people addicted to kiddy porn were addicted to legal porn first and just got deeper and deeper so that they could keep getting pleasure out of it and wound up getting into the illegal stuff. Blocking that stuff as much as possible from an ISP level would probably help those people not get into it simply because they would probably be less prone to search for ways around the blocks.

Contributor says:

Re: A good idea

Right on–in the heat of the moment, when “average joe” porn surfer is just looking for the bit that will take him to the next level of titillation, he’s clicking and clicking and doesn’t care where he’s going. Nor does he care if the link he just tried is down. He just wants the next hit.

So, more broken links to illegal and extremely unhealthy porn seems like a reasonably hopeful exercise. The only problem is… we all know how easy it is to change a link…

mousepaw says:

blocking porn

Canadians do both track and block. We have “kiddie porn” squads searching and stinging, working in concert with US officials, et al. (The porn perveyors, read: predators, don’t stay in one place very long.) There is still some help required from the masses i.e., reporting but these teams are catching them and dealing with them.

I’m pretty sure everybody knows that blocking isn’t the solution. It’s a band-aid. The idea that out of sight, out of mind might have been the focus. One would have to know the exact URL to circumvent the block and since it can’t be found in a search, they’re scratching a long list of would-be viewers. Narrowing the field.

Anonymous Coward says:

Techdirt is being hypocritical...

There’s no need to say go after the folks MAKING the kiddie porn, or even the folks DISTRIBUTING it, as there is a very good possibility that its not illegal where they are doing it.

So the only person responsible in canada is the consumer. ISP’s shoudnt even agree to this type of arrangement, because it sets upon them the RESPONSIBILITY of monitoring and controlling the internet, and they are just a service provider. Not an internet police force. This type of agreement changes that in an irreversible fashion.

No, instead we should all think like good little techdirties and try to come up with a way that the kiddie porn industry can make their lack of scarcity more valuable instead.

Jeff LK says:

You've Misread the Intent

The main reason for the ISPs blocking these sites isn’t as much to stop the slimeballs and perverts, but to reduce the availability of these sites to youth and children, so they can’t locate them accidentally, or through nefarious means. granted it’s about as useful as swinging a tennis rachet at an attacking swarm of mosquitos, but it’s better than nothing until those bastards are caught.

babooom says:

I would do it

given this isn’t the only thing that should be done by the government. but as far as the ISP goes it is one of the only things they can do. if I owned a ISP and realized that kiddy porn was being distributed through MY service I would do every thing I could to stop it.

the only additional action would be to actively report any child porn that is being distributed from Canada or the US.

though there are plenty of other anonymos ways of distributing and obtaining child porn.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

If I were an ISP and I spotted somehing, chances are I would just ell the guy thathe was breaking the TOS (if he was), and tell him that i didn’t want to _see_ any more of it.

“HWack a mole” has the whole idea in a nutshel, since it has no hope of working. Whats wrong with IP over DNS, it works on most proxies, plus some ISPs don’t charge for DNS traffic?

Good luck though 🙂

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