UK's Ridiculous Internet Porn Crackdown Can Be Used To Kill Social Media Accounts

from the wait,-what? dept

Last month, the UK moved forward with the latest version of its ridiculous "Digital Economy Bill" which will put in place mandatory porn filtering at the ISP level -- requiring service providers to block access to sites that don't do an age verification check. But it was at least somewhat vague as to which "ISPs" this covered. The bill has moved from the House of Commons over to the House of Lords, and apparently we now have at least something of an answer -- and it's that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook will be covered by this regulation.

In other words, those sites may be required to block accounts and block access to certain porn sites. That's ridiculous. This came out during the reading of the bill in the House of Lords where a question was raised about the responsibility of platforms under the bill:
Finally, I have a question for the Minister. I would like him to comment on what the expectations are for social media sites like Twitter, which can themselves host user-generated pornographic content. The expectations on commercial pornography websites are set out pretty clearly in Clause 15, but will the Minister please clarify how the Bill as drafted will impact on social media sites? Clause 22 starts to cover this with its reference to “ancillary service providers”, but in Clause 22(6) the reference is restricted to business activities so provided. Evidence from the Government to the Communications Select Committee on 29 October was as follows:

“Twitter is a user-generated uploading-content site. If there is pornography on Twitter, it will be considered covered under ancillary services”.

How does that apply to material on Twitter that is not uploaded in the course of business activities? I ask the Minister to clarify this point when he responds.
Later, Baroness Benjamin claims that it's important that they make sure that social media is included in the bill "for the children" (of course):
In seeking to protect children from stumbling upon pornography, it is particularly important that social media is covered by the Bill. That is one of the primary ways in which children are exposed to pornography. There has been some debate about the scope of Clause 15 and the ancillary service providers, but it seems clear to me that social media should be covered by this. I was particularly delighted that the noble Baroness, Lady Shields, confirmed to the Lords Communications Committee on 29 November that:

“The Bill covers ancillary services. There was a question about Twitter. Twitter is a user-generated uploading-content site. If there is pornography on Twitter, it will be considered covered under ancillary services”.

Can the Minister confirm that this will be the case and also the case for all other social media, including, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram?
The debate over regulating Twitter got pretty silly pretty fast. At least one person noted that the UK was at risk of looking like idiots. This is from "The Earl of Erroll" (gotta love the House of Lords), who then admits he doesn't even know what's possible, but he's absolutely positive that age checks on any e-commerce site is no big deal.
It is probably unrealistic to block the whole of Twitter—it would make us look like idiots. On the other hand, there are other things we can do. This brings me to the point that other noble Lords made about ancillary service complaints. If we start to make the payment service providers comply and help, they will make it less easy for those sites to make money. They will not be able to do certain things. I do not know what enforcement is possible. All these sites have to sign up to terms and conditions. Big retail websites such as Amazon sell films that would certainly come under this category. They should put an age check in front of the webpage. It is not difficult to do; they could easily comply.
Finally, Lord Ashton of Hyde, admits that, yes, of course the bill will apply to social media and all those other sites, because why the fuck not?
The right reverend Prelate, the noble Baronesses, Lady Kidron and Lady Benjamin, and the noble Earl, Lord Erroll, asked a valid question about social media and Twitter. The Government believe that services, including Twitter, can be classified by regulators as ancillary service providers where they are enabling or facilitating the making available of pornographic or prohibited material. This means that they could be notified of commercial pornographers to whom they provide a service but this will not apply to material provided on a non-commercial basis.
In that same answer, he pulls an infamous "free speech is important, but..." line that is what you expect from someone about to censor speech:
It is a complicated area. Free speech is vital but we must protect children from harm online as well as offline. We must do more to ensure that children cannot easily access sexual content which will distress them or harm their development, as has been mentioned.
And, thus, you go from a system officially designed to make it hard to reach porn on the internet "for the children" to a bill that allows for the UK government to force social media companies to block or kill certain accounts. That seems like a pretty big deal.

Filed Under: censorship, digital economy bill, house of lords, moral panic, porn, porn filtering, social media, uk
Companies: facebook, instagram, twitter


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  • identicon
    Daydream, 16 Dec 2016 @ 4:18am

    Do me a favor, for the children...

    Put more porn on the internet. Not stuff like rape fantasies and gangbangs and whatnot, stuff that you can and should be doing in real life.

    Gimme safe sex, proper condom use, safe-sane-consensual, when yes-means-yes and everything that means no, responsible bondage practices, and basically everything that you want to be repeated by your audience.

    Remind me, what was that thing about counterspeech being more effective against terrorism than censorship? Surely that applies to porn too.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:05am

    That bill will never work. If social media is blocked, Britons will merely use VPNs and proxies to get around such blocks.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:19am

      Re:

      Till they are banned...

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:27am

        Re: Re:

        VPNs are used extensively by business to allow remote workers secure access to their business networks.

        To ban VPNs would be to cripple UK businesses.

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

        • icon
          Richard (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:55am

          Re: Re: Re:

          To ban VPNs would be to cripple UK businesses.

          Just like leaving the EU - they would never do it..

          Oh wait...

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 11:38am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            we not left the EU yet and its looking like we wont, wait for the U turn its coming

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 1:56pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              > we not left the EU yet and its looking like we wont

              Of course not! You can't let the people decide things for themselves, that's what the government is for!

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

              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 20 Dec 2016 @ 3:55am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                It was actually the right-wing press stoking up popular resentment over the failure of government policies that they champion (neoliberalism) and blaming "Immigrants" for the results that resulted in the Leave vote.

                There's a lot of buyers' regret as it emerges that many Leave voters didn't bother to consider the ramifications of pulling out of an economic and political trading bloc. I've had many conversations with Leavers who haven't read Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and who believed that the Referendum was a mandate, not an advisory vote. That's what the court cases were about: mob rule V the rule of law. Applying the rule of law would provide for a more orderly exit than just enacting the will of half of the people via letting Theresa May hand our notice in without going through Parliament first.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 7:02am

          Re: Re: Re:

          This is true. That is why a VPN ban would never be possible in many countries. Countries like Iran, Oman, or the UAE, than have banned VPN, can get away with it, because they do not have a lot of foreign businessman who travel there, but places like Britain, who do have a lot of foreign businesspeople could never do that without shutting down a lot of international business.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 7:40am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just create a Government authorized VPN proxy farm where a token given by the government is used... voila! Sure the gubmint can decrypt your shit... but you really should not be hiding anything from big bruther unless you are guilty of something... RIGHT?

          Just because you cannot be creatively evil like that does not mean that the Government will not be with a few intelligent people around.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:02am

        Re: Re:

        Then you just ignore the ban and use them anyway.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:32am

        Re: Re:

        How would the money markets continue to exist?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:23am

      Re:

      However, if you travel a lot to the UK, you can set up your own VPN server on your home computer, using a port other than normal ports, so that if ISPs are ordered to block the most common ports, you can still use it.

      You can set up an encrypted connection using port 80, using the SoftEther VPN server program. There is no way they can block port 80, without cutting off the entire web.

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

  • icon
    hij (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 5:13am

    Their own servers

    I wonder if their own web pages for the National Health Services offers any advice about sexual health or perhaps sexually transmitted diseases. If that is the case then they may want to make sure that junior cannot go to the government's own sites. Then again, if the parliament considers any legislation that has any regulations on matters of sexual interest then they too may have to limit access to their own sites.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Howard II, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:06am

    Thin end of the wedge?

    And, thus, you go from a system officially designed to make it hard to reach porn on the internet "for the children" to a bill that allows for the UK government to force social media companies to block or kill certain accounts. That seems like a pretty big deal.

    Some (including me) would say that was the plan all along. Much as "anti-terrorist" legislation is predominantly used for things that no sane person would consider to be terrorism.

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

  • identicon
    McGreed, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:11am

    But what about REAL violence??

    "Oh no, protect the children from the porn and nude bodies!"... what the hell, what about all the REAL pictures of war and violence, why are they not trying to put up age restrictions on those as well? Hypocrites. It's only because it affects their prude sensitivity that they do this, because sex is baaaadd.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 7:04am

      Re: But what about REAL violence??

      Yeah.
      Sex = baaaadd.
      Violence = gooood.
      And of course, repressing the sex helps promote the violence.

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

  • icon
    Machin Shin (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:12am

    "sexual content which will distress them or harm their development"

    Anyone ever stop to think that maybe, just maybe, us making sex such an "evil" and taboo thing is really what "will distress them or harm their development".

    I often find myself looking around and wondering WTF people are thinking these days. Kids used to grow up out side running around, often put to work at very young age helping parents on the farm. This often even included dangerous things like using axes to chop wood. Families also used to have one room houses where I am sure most kids saw sex on a regular basis. They also knew about it from a young age due to farm animals if nothing else.

    So you seriously going to try and argue that our current kids are turning out better now that we wrap them up in bubble wrap and protect them from every little thing?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:21am

    If you use social media, and travel the UK, you can set up your own VPN on your home computer, if you have broadband service, that allows servers.

    You just download the open source SoftEther VPN on to your home computer, and install, and then set up login credentials for remote access.

    Then, when you are in Britain, you can merely log on to your the VPN set up on your home computer, and access you social media that way.

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

  • icon
    Seegras (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 6:23am

    airstrip one is falling over backwards to meet demands

    .. to comply to the IngSoc's catalog, since they apparently feel they're years behind, as it's called "1984".

    Just shameful, for a country that fought against fascism some 70 years ago, now to reimplement it itself.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 3:56pm

      Re: airstrip one is falling over backwards to meet demands

      During the 1930's many of the rich & powerful elite were all for fascism until it got a bit out of control & bit them on the bum.

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

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 8:11am

    V is coming. This is just the beginning of the slippery slope.

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

  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 9:19am

    Which is worse: seeing naked people or seeing political stories

    So they want Twitter and Facebook to "think of the children"? Correct me if I'm wrong, but don't both of these sites already require users to affirm that they're 18 and above? If that's the case, then children shouldn't be on the site to begin with.

    Or if Twitter and Facebook do allow users under the age of 18, isn't there a warning that says users may encounter adult content?
    And, honestly, is seeing a naked person really worse than a lot of the "political" news?
    Which is harder to explain to a 15 year-old: that a lady is posing naked to make money or that propagandists from Russia are influencing the US political process by spreading fake news so Trump will be president to alter the balance of power in the world so the US will be less likely to oppose Russia's interests in Eastern Europe?

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

    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 16 Dec 2016 @ 1:04pm

      Re: Which is worse: seeing naked people or seeing political stories

      Just to comment on your first point, both Facebook and Twitter allow people to create accounts as long as they're at least 13 years old. This is mainly due to an American law (the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) which requires websites to get parental consent to collect personal information from anyone younger than that. Also, you can browse Twitter and Facebook in a limited fashion without creating an account at all.

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

  • identicon
    @b, 16 Dec 2016 @ 10:07am

    Installing nanny software vs. Outsourcing it to the nanny state

    Call it what it is: The Great Firewall of UK.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 11:31am

      Re: Installing nanny software vs. Outsourcing it to the nanny state

      A Great Firewall that will never work

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 3:59pm

      Re: Installing nanny software vs. Outsourcing it to the nanny state

      More like The Great Moat of the soon to be Divided Kingdom.

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

  • identicon
    CharlieBrown, 16 Dec 2016 @ 3:49pm

    The UK

    Aren't these the same people who had a problem with Lady Chatterley's Lover? Not her lover, but the book about it. I mean, they have an Obscene Publications Act for goodness sake!

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Dec 2016 @ 9:03pm

      Re: The UK

      And the same people who wanted to ban the future President of the US from entering the UK, because they didn't like what he said.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2016 @ 4:14pm

    Yesterday, it was mass surveillance
    Today its age verification
    Tomorow its online identity cards

    Your you, im me, she her, hes him

    Thats as much bloody information you bloody well need

    Sic to think we live in a world that not enough people cared about this for it to be shutdown before it even got out off the concept department........this thing is gonna get worse before it gets better........right about the time when the reality settles in to the folks who were'nt thinking about where this might lead too......a governments warped mentality towards its people under the guise of doing good.....blinded by their need to do good, not really thinking about the consequences to their good deeds, or hypocritically ignoring the bad consequences to their good deeds.............i mean, i might be alright with the good deeds, if they acknowledge the bad and take responsibility, it shows a willingness to not repeat them, more so then denying the thing that suspiciously makes me think its because you want to do it again

    Im here thinking maybe now, after getting so much, so fast,
    what other outrageous things our masters are gonna release into our lives

    Freedoms being stripped from the outside and within, i hope all you guys and gals are saving up your permision to sneeze in public slips


    Still living in a world of class systems

    Im a human being your a human being

    Not


    Im a human being your a Pope

    Im a human being your a King

    Im a human being your a Queen

    Im a human being your a Lord

    Im a human being your a Baron

    Im a human being your a President

    Im a human being your a Primeminister

    Im a human being your a Politician

    Im a human being your a Officer

    Im a human being your a Beurocrat

    Im a human being your a Rich

    The arrogance to convince yourself that you have the right to dictate the life of others that is not your own or without consent..........to practice such a mentality unto others creates the very opposition that you feel compelled to quench, its a fire of unlimited supply, feeds itself, its perpetual conflict......unless one of your deeper darkest secrets manifests itself without mercy, the willingness to mass murder.......an empires bloody tool


    Now for the rant......
    :)

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Dec 2016 @ 4:33pm

    So instead of creating a standard secure framework/program/app as a kid friendly frontend to the internet untill their of legal age to use the internet in its entirety, you decide to take the route that screws with EVERYONE

    i will say this, at least you screw us over equally, so well done, you bastards

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


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