(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
blocking, study

Study Shows That Web Blocking Ignores Real Problems, Doesn't Solve Anything & Is Used As A Political Tool

from the total-failure dept

We've been hearing a lot about politicians trying to restrict access rather than actually dealing with the root causes of problems a lot lately. From the horrible COICA censorship bill, to various state attorneys general pressuring websites to block forums, rather than having those AGs actually do their job and go after those responsible, it seems that politicians keep looking to put up a wall, rather than deal with real issues.

And, surprise, surprise, that doesn't work.

Kelly was the first of a few of you to send over a report (found via BoingBoing) that looked at how child porn blocklists in Scandinavia worked -- and what they found is that they didn't work well at all. As the researchers noted: "Blocking means looking away instead of acting."

The key findings in the report were that of the 167 sites on the list, only three of them appeared to actually contain child pornography. There were two problems here. The first is that sites that were put on the blocklist apparently were never reviewed later. But, much more importantly, it looks like once law enforcement put sites on the list, no one in law enforcement actually bothered to do anything to go after or to stop the actual perpetrators. The researchers noted that they were able to get the three sites in question taken down within hours, and wondered why law enforcement didn't take the most basic steps to do so, or to find and arrest those responsible. As they note:
The investigators seem to be operating a "fire and forget" strategy by just putting the sites on the lists -- they don't seem to go after the crimes and the perpetrators, and they don't unblock sites that are no longer relevant, which they should do for freedom of speech considerations.
It's too bad that many other countries are now trying to jump on such a mistaken censorship setup, without ever bothering to see if they can actually do something about the underlying causes of the sites they're trying to censor. It's all too typical in politics these days. This is a way that they can pretend they've done something by really brushing it under the rug. It doesn't stop the activity. It doesn't actually go after those responsible. It just hides things (perhaps too aggressively) and forgets about it.

Reader Comments

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  • icon
    weneedhelp (profile), 30 Sep 2010 @ 2:43pm

    Just set it, and forget it.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2010 @ 3:23pm

    Look up the great video on youtube called cleanternet(the english version)

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

  • icon
    Pierre Wolff (profile), 30 Sep 2010 @ 3:33pm

    Polticking trumps actually doing anything

    Let us take a moment to remember the Craigslist "Adult Services" section ;) The irony is that despite having done nothing about the problem of abuse of minors and child trafficking, they can claim they've done *something* (closed a useful defense against these societal ills).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Sep 2010 @ 4:19pm

    See no evil, hear no evil.

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

  • identicon
    SLK8ne, 30 Sep 2010 @ 9:16pm

    Well, what do we expect?

    This is just more smoke and mirrors to give the illusion of doing something useful, while doing nothing useful. I think it's interesting that every legislative action against the child sex industry somehow is always ineffective. Hm...I wonder if it's that they know all of the senators mistresses and callgirls/callguys, or that they've simply bought them all off. Think about it. Everybody except Whoopie Goldberg despises the child exploitation/porn industry, but, nobody does anything effective about it.

    Leaves you wondering why, doesn't it?

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

    • icon
      Bruce Ediger (profile), 1 Oct 2010 @ 5:36am

      Re: Well, what do we expect?

      The collapse of the Soviet Union taught a lot of agencies a big, big lesson: without a boogie man to scare people with sound bites, you can't get budget.

      Therefore, we now have Permanent Floating Boogie Men. Child Porn, Terrorism and Osama bin Laden.

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

  • identicon
    Jason X, 1 Oct 2010 @ 2:01am

    The police have no manpower left over for doing such things, they have all been allocated to the new division of the cartels filesharing unit which is the highest priority for any law enforcement agency around the world :-)

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

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