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.

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “UK's New Mandatory Porn Filter Already Defeated By A Single Chrome Extension”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
66 Comments
Wat Tyler says:

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’.

Zakida Paul (profile) says:

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.

jameshogg says:

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”.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

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.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: 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 ™ 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…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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)

Peter Wakefield Sault (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Oh Please says:

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.

Fredrick Mayes says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

out_of_the_blue says:

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.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

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.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

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.

OldGeezer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

John Pettitt (profile) says:

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 …

Anonymous Coward says:

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

Georg says:

great article and comments

IT gurus working for the government are generally an uneducated and ignorant tribe. For example, do you all remember the “not-good-to-read-books” filter that IT idiots developed for UK schools and Libraries? It would not allow you to read anything about one literature’s great books “Moby Dick” because the title had a “naughty word” in it. This truly demonstrates the lack of intelligence demonstrated by the IT people.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...