With Porn Filters Going Oh So Well, UK Roars Ahead In Expanding Them To Include 'Extremist' Content

from the things-are-getting-a-little-dystopian dept

The UK government’s futile and ham-fisted attempts to purge the Internet of all of its rough edges and naughty bits are about to see international escalation. The country is only really just kicking off their campaign to impose porn filters that not only often don’t work, but also have so far managed to accidentally block numerous entirely legal and useful websites including technology news sites like Slashdot, digital rights groups like the EFF, rape counseling websites, and more. David Cameron’s government has long-stated they want this filtering to eventually extend to websites deemed “extremist” by the government, and it appears that new proposals being drafted hope to make that a reality sooner rather than later.

Just as child porn is used to justify broader porn filters, beheading videos appear to be the magic bullet into scaring people into accepting filters that move well beyond porn. According to the BBC, government-funded operations within the counter-terrorism referral unit will soon order UK broadband ISPs like TalkTalk, Virgin Media and BSkyB to expand filters to include websites declared to be promoting terrorism. As most filter opponents have warned, the slope in the UK is moving beyond slippery and is getting downright muddy thanks in part to new UK Immigration Minister James Brokenshire:

“Terrorist propaganda online has a direct impact on the radicalisation of individuals and we work closely with internet service providers (ISPs) to remove terrorist material hosted in the UK or overseas,” said Brokenshire. “Through proposals from the Extremism Taskforce announced by the Prime Minister in November, we will look to further restrict access to material that is hosted overseas – but illegal under UK law – and help identify other harmful content to be included in family-friendly filters,” he added.

In other words, because of pesky things like the Constitution in the United States and instead of just using existing, vast international resources to prosecute criminals and terrorists, we’re going to be expanding broken ISP filters against the advice of pretty much everybody. Granted what is deemed “extremist” will likely be entirely arbitrary, and as we’ve seen with the porn filters, there’s probably no limit to the number of entirely legal and legitimate websites UK citizens will find suddenly inaccessible.

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Comments on “With Porn Filters Going Oh So Well, UK Roars Ahead In Expanding Them To Include 'Extremist' Content”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I’m sure they’re love to, but there’s far too many legitimate business uses for VPNs for the to really put such a ban in place. I’m sure some clueless morons in parliament will try to put such measures forward, but they’ll backtrack when representatives of major corporations point out how much money will be lost with such a thing. They might be technically clueless and power-hungry, but they won’t mess with things when they realise that money is at stake rather than silly things like rights and freedom for ordinary folk.

PopeyeLePoteaux (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Not happening IMO. Banning encryption or making it hard/impossible to use proxies/VPN is possible ONLY if a new standard is implemented globally where no person can be allowed to be administrator on their own computer. They would need to make it illegal to have administrative rights over your own computer or any device capable of connecting to the internet.

Even trying is highly likely to remove every business relying on VPN’s, cloud services and proxies from the market, https would have to go as well so no more services using encrypted login; banks, Amazon, online franchises, personal cloud storage, etc.

Because if you want to ensure a high percentage of your economy moves to another country, banning encryption would be it.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“making it hard/impossible to use proxies/VPN is possible ONLY if a new standard is implemented globally where no person can be allowed to be administrator on their own computer.”

Well, no, that’s not really true. It would also be possible to monitor traffic for data streams that appear to be random. Those are probably encrypted datastreams, and their presence could trigger a more intensive investigation of the source & destination of the traffic.

Anonymous Coward says:

we all know the biggest mistake here is the UK thinking for one second that filters will work. we then al know the mistake the UK citizens made was thinking it would stop with the non-existing stopping of porn involving children. the mistake being proposed now is going to go hand in glove with the new ‘Gagging Law’ that Cameron has just introduced, to stop certain Political Parties from getting sponsorship at election time. the next one will be to censor those who actually condemn the Tory Party. when you look at it, the overall mistake is that just one person, not an Internet genius or a judge, but a person who is going to force his/her opinion on to everyone else, regardless! how wrong is that? Cameron, you are blowing things, big time now!

Anonymous Coward says:

Once society can erase all images, words, actions, and thoughts that someone (anyone) dislikes, the world will be as beautiful and vibrate and a blank sheet of paper. And we’ll have governments to thank for the new sterile, safe world where everyone is free from the shackles of excitement & adversity that make life worth living.

Anonymous Coward says:

Only terrorists and pedophiles use VPNs and Tor. Indeed, those censorship circumvention tools will be the next to go. After that, science and knowledge will be next on the chopping block. It’s hard to control a population that has access to science and technology. Just ask Canada, they’ve already started burning books and closing down their libraries.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Response to: Anonymous Coward on Feb 14th, 2014 @ 11:05am

Those marine science libraries that the Conservatards shut down, they just threw all that data in the garbage, even scientists who wanted to salvage all they could couldn’t. And indeed they were saying that they shouldn’t be owning all of that stuff and that it should be public domain data.

“It will be impossible to recognize Canada when I am done” -Stephen Harper

Thomas (user link) says:

Re: Re:

“Only terrorists and pedophiles use VPNs”.

What about the people who use them to access American Websites such as Hulu and the American Netflix so it’s actually worth the money?

What about me, who uses a VPN to connect to my Universities intranet from my house so I can connect to a server that I would otherwise have to be on campus to connect to.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

They are not as bad as advertised.
Here is the official response to the e-petition against them

“From the end of this year, when new customers set up a broadband account, they will be prompted to set up parental controls. If a customer repeatedly clicks ?yes? to get through the set-up quickly, filters will be automatically selected. Parental controls are easy for the account holder to change, so customers who do not want filters can simply switch them off.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s why they need a new law, now against terrorism, hey’ll say something like.
You can turn porn on, but if you turn terrorism on then you’re a terrorist.
and since there is no way one can prove there was absolutely ZERO terrorism content in a webpage you can’t even see, then they’ll be able to censor anything they don’t like.

Anon says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“They are not as bad as advertised.”


This is about having the infrastructure in place with the ISPs. Then it is up to them to decide which filters are “opt in” or “opt out” or, silently, always on.

This is the equivalent of the government building a barb wire fence around your house and then telling you it’s no big deal because they’ll leave the gate open for you, promise.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Opt-out” versus “opt-in” is a matter of which choice is the default, the one you get if you don’t pay enough attention to make a conscious choice.

The described setup configuration process will put the filters in place if you just say “yes” to everything. Unless “yes” is not the default (e.g. if it’s radio buttons and a “Next” button, and the “no” radio button is selected by default), then someone clicking through without paying attention will get the filters – and that means the filters are the default, which makes this an “opt-out” scenario.

Not to mention that, as others have stated, it seems that opting out only affects whether the filters will actually be applied to your traffic – not whether your traffic will pass through the filtering software.

DannyB (profile) says:

Do they have a definition of Extremist?

Do they have a definition of Pr0n?
Do they have a definition of Extremist?

I’ll just use US politics as an example, even though it is irrelevant to the UK. Republicans think they are in the center and Democrats are extremist. And Democrats think vice versa. Some people think both Democrats and Republicans are extremist.

Hey, here’s an idea! (Oh, no… hold on to your socks…) Let’s ban anything that anyone considers Extremist.

That would be like pouring drain-o into teh intartubes to clean them out so that Netflix could flow through more easily.

Claire Rand says:

As one living here..

These filters don’t and won’t work properly, they are not required to.

They will be very good at filtering text, you know stories that are perhaps highlighting something that the government of the day, or the people running the filters would prefer not to be highlighted. They will be good at that, and catching anything that is remotely similar in general subject matter.

On the extremist and porn side, again they don’t have to actually work, there will be a ‘report’ produced on how much is being blocked, any you see will be described as the tip of the iceberg etc, its not about actually blocking anything, its about being able to be seen to be ‘doing something’.

All pointless, and expensive.

Anonymous Coward says:

We told you this would happen, but you called it slipperyslope.
You cant fix this one without going on the streets. You have to get your balls together and do what the ukrainians did.
Constant surveillance of everyone, internet filters and punishment for telling bad things about the government, and yet you do nothing.
Damn im glad its not my problem. If you dont fix this, then i hope you at least manage to get them to leave the EU, so we dont get any of this crap from you

Anonymous Coward says:

you might want to be careful or someone might display how TD and Masnick routinely “FILTERS” posters to TD because of their “extremists” comments..

extremist activities like questing the facts as presented here on TD or calling out TD ‘writers’ for ‘abusing the truth’.

I do agree it is very distasteful, and a despicable act for the UK or TD to engage in that practice.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No silly, I am not talking about “reader hiding” or “reported” posts, I am talking about MAC address blocking of ALL POSTS to TD, the posts fall into a black hole of “HELD FOR MODERATION” only to NEVER APPEAR, or rarely appear weeks later, well after the discussion has ended.

TOTAL CENSORSHIP, not this reporting bullshit, although that is also censorship, I am talking about exactly what the UK is doing BLOCKING things they don’t like (or people they don’t like generally).

People like me who tends to be sceptical about statements made on TD than most here.

I can video it, and show you if you like, but if I do it will be on Youtube.

So make sure your right first. I can prove what I am saying is true!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Aw, is the lying trolling idiot upset that his lying trolling is being treated as lying trolling because so many people report the lying trolling that it gets caught in a spam filter and has to be manually accepted (I note that even you admit that it’s authorised once a human being gets to it)?

Here’s an idea – stop with the lying and trolling. Stick to facts rather than whining, attacking and misrepresenting, then you’ll find your posts suddenly stop being flagged as lying, trolling bullshit and thus your problems will end.

“I can prove what I am saying is true!”

I’m sure that Techdirt can prove that you’re being filtered because so many people from all over the world are reporting you as a troll, and I’m also sure that any cursory reading of your words will demonstrate that said label is accurate. The only pity is that I don’t know which one of our small, pathetic band of lying obsessed losers you actually are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

But I suggest you check with Masnick first and find out what the truth is from him before issuing me a challenge, it would be far better for Masnick to ‘come clean’ and admit he engages in this EXACT FORM OF CENSORSHIP, RIGHT HERE ON TD !!

as you might have noticed, most of TD diehards are against this activity, yet it is routinely done here on TD !

It would be far better if he was honest with you and us, rather than a public display (via youtube) of how he is being dishonest.

You want to fight about censorship and ‘blocking’ make sure your own home is clean first…

Ball is in your court, how you going to play it?

DP says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Ball is in your court”. Reckon the plural of “ball” is more appropriate for all the dross, waffle, half-truths and complete cattle excrement from what is obviously OOTB behind the anonymous coward hiding place. Whoever that person is, there is a very sad, demented and twisted mind lurking, together with a huge chip on the shoulder – probably BOTH shoulders.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

…I have proof…

Then present it, because just like AJ’s whining about how he’s ‘always being blocked from posting’, you sure seem to have no trouble posting, numerous times(which on it’s own would quite likely be enough to trip the spam filter), on any and all articles that you happen to be viewing at the time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Ever think Cameron just wants to block information getting out on his theft / money laundering / illegal government contracting to place (and then remove) several million speedbumps across the UK….and his partial ownership in each of the six large energy companies….etc

As long as he feels he can suppress this until he’s out of power (i.e. the next election) he’s fine with total censorship.
– Doesn’t help he f***ed up badly by refusing to help people in Somerset (a Tory voting heartland) until TV cameras showed up….then the workers “appeared” whilst he was around and vanished again as soon as the cameras did.

Kronomex (profile) says:

And now the cretins that ruin, I mean run, Australia are jumping on the internet filtering bandwagon and considering going after naughty pirates here. After consultation with “content providers”, meaning mostly US media, they are considering screwing us over big time and placing the onus on the ISP’s to enforce this stupidity.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Then do it on a personal basis.

There are likely hundreds of programs that parents can use to block(for the 5 minutes it takes before the ‘kids’ bypass them) ‘objectionable material’, the government shouldn’t be getting remotely into such things, because what you find ‘objectionable’, what your neighbor finds ‘objectionable’, what some person who lives in another city finds ‘objectionable’… all of those are likely to be completely different, so if the government steps in to try and block ‘objectionable’ material, you can bet they’re going to do it in as broad, and incompetent manner as possible.

If someone needs the government to decide what they should and should not have access to, it’s because they’re either too stupid to decide such things themselves, or too lazy to deal with the problem personally, and in either case, they’re handing a huge chunk of power over to a group that has shown, quite often, too not in fact have the public’s best interests in mind, and that while they have no problem taking/’accepting’ power, they really, really don’t like to give it up once they have it.

Michael Price says:

Radical = wants to kill for the "wrong" reasons.

We have filters in Australia. So far no problem getting porn. It’s absurd. I doubt I’d have any problem finding “radical” websites either. Of course “radical” in this context means “wants to kill for political reasons other than the reasons we the government want to kill.”.

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