ISP Blocks For Copyright And Porn Denying Access To All Sorts Of Important Information

from the failure dept

Just as copyright maximalists are declaring victory in claiming that there's no problem at all with having ISPs censor the internet, reports are flowing in concerning all sorts of serious problems. Over in the UK, ISPs have begun implementing the mandatory porn filtering that Prime Minister David Cameron has been pushing, and the results are about what you'd expect: all sorts of non pornographic sites are being blocked, including important sex education sites and, more troubling, rape and sexual abuse information sites (while plenty of porn is getting through).

Among the sites TalkTalk blocked as "pornographic" was BishUK.com, an award-winning British sex education site, which receives more than a million visits each year.

TalkTalk also lists Edinburgh Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre website as "pornographic."

The company also blocked a programme run by sex education experts, and taught to 81,000 American children, that has been in development for more than 20 years.

TalkTalk's filter is endorsed by Mr Cameron but it failed to block 7% of the 68 pornographic websites tested by Newsnight.

Meanwhile, blockades concerning copyright are wreaking similar havoc. Users of Sky Broadband recently discovered that the megapopular imgur image hosting site (which we use to host many of our images) was completely blocked in a moronic attempt to try to block access to a torrent site. Because both the torrent site and imgur used the same CDN (one of the most popular ones), Sky mistakenly blocked it all.
Sky employs an automated blocking system that polls torrent sites’ DNS records in order to quickly re-block them in the event they switch servers or IP addresses.

“Sky regularly pull IP addresses listed on our DNS servers and adds them to their block list. This block list is then used by an advanced proxy system that redirects any requests to the blacklisted IP addresses to a webserver that the ISP owns which returns a blocked page message,” YIFY explains.

Therefore, when YIFY began using CloudFlare servers in Australia, Sky pulled these IP addresses and blocked them in the mistaken belief that they were YIFY’s. Since Imgur uses the same IP addresses, Sky’s automated blocking took the site offline, to the huge disappointment of countless customers.
Of course, these obvious over-blockages are merely the tip of the iceberg of what people were talking about when they noted that site blocking would "break the internet." They never meant that the entire internet would shut down, but that certain basic functions of the internet would not work properly, including important security tools like DNSSec. But the fact that even beyond that, these attempts at blocking content at the ISP level are flubbing so badly seems like pretty clear evidence that blocking is not a solution, but rather an even bigger problem than expected.

Of course, governments have been warned repeatedly about what a bad idea such blocking plans are, but when you deal with technologically illiterate politicians and pro-censorship extremists, they seem to think that it's the perfect solution, without realizing just how much harm they're doing, not just in the collateral damage, and in guaranteeing that basic internet functions (like DNS) don't perform the way everyone expects them to, but also in general access to important health and safety information.

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  1. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), 20 Dec 2013 @ 8:14am

    But if there's no porn, then nobody will want to have sex, so we won't need things like sex education and sexual abuse centers. It can all happily go away and nobody will touch each other ever again.

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