Cameron and Perry Hatch a Crackpot Scheme to Censor The Web with Internet Filters by 2014

Censored

Think you’re an adult who should be able to make your own decisions?  Think Net Neutrality is the devil?  Think the Daily Mail makes some good points?  Think gypsy, immigrant paedos want to steal benefits from you? Think unicorns are extinct?  Congratulations!  You’re a moron and a significant number of MPs agree with you…

David Cameron has announced that by the end of 2014, every Internet enabled household will have porn filters automatically switched on by default.

You can opt out if you choose to, but the implication is that everyone wants the government to decide what’s good for them and only the very dregs of society would choose to expose themselves to such filth.  The interesting bit of his speech comes in the middle (shit sandwich anyone?) when he talks about “Internet Filters”:


There has been a big debate about whether internet filters should be set to a default ‘on’ position…

…in other words, with adult content filters applied by default – or not.

Let’s be clear.

This has never been a debate about companies or government censoring the internet…

…but about filters to protect children at the home network level.

Those who wanted default ‘on’ said – it’s a no-brainer…

“No-brainer” indeed – but only in same way that zombies make no-brainer decisions i.e. without using their brain…and I especially like the misdirection about not being about “censoring the Internet”….when he’s talking about filtering content on the Internet…surely that’s precisely the same thing?

Think of the Children

Claire Perry, Cameron’s “won’t someone please think of the children” proposal pushing puppet has already had her website hacked to promote porn and been busy spouting nonsense on her twitter feed with some amusing responses:

I am proud of the PM’s call for ISPs to do more to help parents to keep our children safe online with Family Friendly Filters…

@claire4devizes Have you ever used or tested the HomeSafe filters your site promotes? We have. They don’t work: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/375553/exposed-the-shocking-flaws-in-talktalks-porn-filter …

Online Porn Blocked

The Daily Mail of course has a hand in all this (which is worrying in itself), in their article on the 23rd July, they bashfully take credit for this monstrosity of a half baked idea doomed to failure::

“In a victory for the Daily Mail, the Prime Minister announced every householder connected to the internet will have their access to online porn blocked unless they ask to receive it.”

They then go on to imply that porn may lead to an urge to kill as “Both men had visited child abuse sites before the attacks”.  I expect they did a few other things before the attacks too – eat a burger, go to the loo maybe even dress up as a penguin.  Obviously, the only course of action is to start censoring takeaways, toilets and fancy dress shops too.  If only they’d spent the two hours previous to their attacks reading the Daily Mail web site and watching Go-Compare adverts…Anyway, with a porn filter in place, I’m sure most child killers will be persuaded to hang up their tools and give the whole murdering malarky a rest …

Downloading abusive images on peer-to-peer

The announcement has been covered in more realistic terms by most major news sources, with particularly good coverage from the BBC, Wired and the Independent - which also pointed out:

Separately, the former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), Jim Gamble, said Mr Cameron’s plan to tackle child abuse images by removing results from search engines like Google would be “laughed at” by paedophiles.

“There are 50,000 predators…downloading abusive images on peer-to-peer, not from Google,” he said. “Yet from CEOP intelligence only 192 were arrested last year. That’s simply not good enough.

“We’ve got to attack the root cause, invest with new money, real investment in child protection teams, victim support and policing on the ground. Let’s create a real deterrent. Not a pop-up that paedophiles will laugh at.”

And this is the real point.

The filters will be wholly ineffective!

Firstly, it is impossible to filter all the porn on the Internet, several thousand sites may be blocked, but there’s still newsgroups, chat rooms and even Facebook that are laden with the stuff.  Anything clever trying to use image recognition won’t get everything and will also filter out genuine “non-porn” content too.

Secondly, it is child’s play to circumvent the filters using proxies, VPN and hidden services like Tor.  I’ve written a post before on how easy it is to get round the piratebay filter that Virgin introduced.  The fact that kids will be challenged (and challenge is the correct word) to set these things up – will actually have the opposite effect and expose them to much worse material than currently.  The Silk Road for example, infamously lists a whole smorgasbord of illegal services, more kids will have access to these sort of services because they’ve been “forced” to investigate ways to anonymise their online activity.


Trust the Government to maintain a list of sites?

The other important thing to question is whether we trust the Government to maintain a list of sites that are deemed suitable.  It would be one thing (and far more sensible) to install router level software that allow parents to switch filters on or off, the blacklist could then be viewable, editable and managed by a responsible adult with admin access.  It’s quite another to maintain the list at the ISP level (ie before it gets to your house) – no one can see  the list and we just have to trust they’ve got our best interests at heart. I also don’t trust a Government committee to decide what’s suitable for me – my opinions and views differ from theirs – something they find offensive, I’ll probably take in my stride and how do we ever know they’re not censoring more than just porn?  Not to mention the fact that:

This is a dangerously flawed interpretation of how the internet works and for it to work and have any meaningful way it requires everything we do online to be monitored [Big Brother Watch]

Internet censorship is a bad idea

Internet censorship has never and will never be a good thing…unless of course, you happen to be a paranoid ruler of a secretive state that needs to provide a fake image to your population…and I hope we’re not quite there yet…

Asking tech companies to get their “top minds” to cripple something that a previous generation’s top minds built to revolutionise the spread of information is an insult to everyone in the profession.  In the Information Age, controlling the information is the key to power – Why would we seek to build clumsy, ill thought out mechanisms for controlling the flow to the masses?  It’s a knee jerk reaction to a non-existent problem crafted to win votes from the ignorant minority….

Yes…the minority!

In the Government’s own report: “The Government’s response to the consultation on parental internet controls” [December 2012] they clearly state that there’s no appetite for Internet Filters:

Point 18

There was no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP: only 35 percent of the parents who responded favoured that approach

and just to further emphasise the ridiculous notion, the Dutch tried a similar thing too – but then abandoned it:

Unanswered Questions

Before implementing anything like these filters, there’s a lot of questions that need answering,  James Diamond covers many of them in his blog post.  My particular favourite:

“Will the government speak out against mainstream media outlets involved in the sexualisation of children (Daily Mail Online), and those who normalise pornography and the objectification of women in material that can be purchased by children (The Sun)?”

The Government’s own Protecting Our Children website has some interesting stats to back up Dave’s proposals, including the factoid “Only 46% of Parents have filters in place on their home Internet”.  To some that might indicate that we need to apply filters by default to make that figure 100%.  To others, with slightly higher IQs, it means that we need to educate parents in online safety.  We don’t ban playgrounds because some parents don’t keep an eye on their kids, we don’t ban cupboards because not every parent has child proof locks – we educate them.  It the parent’s responsibility to educate and restrict a child’s access to dangerous things, there’s no need to control access to everyone.

Sign the petition

Finally, if you got this far – congratulations.  I wouldn’t normally rant so much, but this represents the “thin end of the wedge” and shouldn’t be allowed.  I’d advise everyone to fill in this online petition – I expect it’ll be ignored but at least they might get an idea about how stupid it is:

Do Not Force ISP Filtering of Pornography and Other Content

Responsible department: Department for Culture, Media and Sport

The government is currently trying to push a bill forcing ISPs to provide opt-out pornography filtering, however this is an issue that fails to address any real problems.

Bad parenting is the real problem, and bad parents will simply allow the filter to be enabled and believe it protects their children, even though the filters are easily (even trivially) circumvented. Parents need to supervise and educate their children about internet use, not rely on filters of dubious effectiveness.

It also sets a poor precedent that objectionable content can be blocked at the ISP level in the name of protecting children, who are in fact being harmed more by poor parenting. Aside from content of a clearly illegal nature the government should not be forcing the presence of filters at all, but instead pushing to improve the involvement of parents in a child’s life, and to promote education over flimsy, disruptive, and money-wasting “solutions”.

… If this does come about – don’t be put off by being made to feel creepy – send a clear message that it is not acceptable and opt-out!

 

….and remember

  • Para Friv

    I do not have to be in the field of information technology, but the information is interesting and I think if we knew how to use it appropriately, this will create a certain positive things.

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