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Internet porn may be blocked at source

(366 Posts)
David51 Mon 20-Dec-10 11:05:27

Communications minister Ed Vaizey is working on plans designed to prevent children gaining access to internet pornography.

He hopes to introduce a system that would enable parents to ask internet service providers (ISPs) to block adult sites at source, rather than relying on parental controls that they need to set themselves.

Adults using the internet connection would then have to specifically 'opt in' if they want to view pornography.

Full story:

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/850896-new-porn-contro ls-for-children-on-internet-planned-by-government

Mumsnet PLEASE think about doing a campaign about this. Or at least keep us posted on if & when the government decides to ask for our views.

In the meantime maybe we should all contact our current ISPs to ask what they plan to do and letting them know what we want as their customers.

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 10:52:11

"The hackers are the censors"

That's an interesting statement. What do you mean by that, Dittany?

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 11:10:48

Someone above wrote: "IF it was possible at a cost effective price and we could agree a clear definition of what constitutes pornography then I wouldn't have an issue with it and indeed would support it."

Of course this comes down to the cost.

I don't understand all these arguments on here about blocking etc etc and definitions of porn. If you want your children to access porn then let them - you don't have to block it under these proposals.

And all these arguments about what constitutes porn - W.H.A.T.E.V.E.R. Idiotic argument - do you have a problem with age appropriate films, the watershed, or do you just let your children play 18 rated games and not worry?

We 'censor' (as you incorrectly assume this is) already, everyday. Somethings are not suitable for children. Period. And it is our responsiblity to stop it.

You know perfectly well that there is 'good enough' technology there to do it. Not perfect but also not useless. Technology, definitions, bla bla bla........useless arguments - it comes down to cost and men defending their position on porn (i.e. that there is nothing wrong with it)

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 11:27:55

China manages to police their internet, so the technology is there, whether it's used for evil and censorship or for protecting children.

Snorbs I was thinking Mumsnet might be under attack having been through that before on other forums. I was thinking about 4chan and their attacks on websites that they don't like. I know someone who was silenced and driven off the internet by them.

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 11:32:18

LadyBlaBlah, I fear you have missed the point. This is not a question of whether parents should be able to prevent their children from accessing porn or not. Of course they should. And, of course, they can. I don't think anyone is arguing that filtering per se is a bad thing.

This is a question of how. Currently, you can choose to join an ISP that offers filtering. Or you can choose to use one of the many filtering products that you can install on your PC. These also allow you to easily include or exclude extra sites from the built-in lists - something which for an ISP-level system would be harder to do. And/or you can choose to simply keep an eye on what your children are doing online. All of these work to a lesser or greater extent although I personally believe that the most effective of these is the parental supervision one.

But despite this existing, workable range of choices, we've now got this proposal to insist that all ISPs install and maintain filtering systems. If you want ISP-level filtering today then you can sign up to an ISP that offers that today. If you want, I'll even do a bit of googling to help you find such a service.

Why do we need legislation to force all ISPs to offer something that is already commercially available to those who want it?

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 11:44:21

China's Golden Shield filtering system is appalling. Not just in a socio-political sense, or as a means of enabling human rights abuses sense, but in a technical sense as well. They don't care if they accidentally block access to innocent sites provided they do block access to sites that they deem verboten. It significantly slows down even allowed Internet access. It is also circumventable in a variety of ways.

If anything, rather than demonstrating how feasible this proposal is, the Golden Shield efforts offer a sobering example of how and why ISP-level filtering doesn't work well.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 11:45:40

It's not an idiotic argument at all.

I realise its an opt-in system. But lets imagine a scenario where FHM & Nuts are blocked because they are deemed "pornographic" by whichever power decides. Now I have to call my ISP up and ask them to remove my block.

Firstly why should I have to call up my ISP and ask for porn?

Secondly my children can now access porn! I'm no better off really am i?

Lastly this morning shows how precarious well intentioned blocking can be. MN was flagged as a hacking site with little evidence and quickly everyone is affected. Fancy calling your ISP up and asking for porn so you can surf MN?

ItsAHollyJollyTee Wed 22-Dec-10 11:55:11

Ya know, I'm going to stop posting. Everyone just assume that everything Snorbs says I agree with, okay? She's saying much better than I could without the cursing that I want to type.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 12:14:06

What people define as porn is relevant to this.

Are we talking about blocking images and video? Or writing as well? Is it sex acts you want blocking or nudity as well? If nudity is there acceptable nudity? Would Renaissance paintings be ok?

More importantly, do you understand how the internet works? They can either block keywords or websites. In order to stop any porn coming through they'd have to block all community led websites - so all social networks, forums, chatrooms, places like wikipedia etc. Do you want all those blocked?

They'd also have to block all porn related keywords. That's a lot of words, including words like breast (there goes any information relating to breast cancer).

Blocking images is even harder, it's reliant on them either having keywords in the meta data (despite being web 2.0 standard now loads of places don't use that feature) or in the name (if a site uses lots of images they are more likely to use numbers in the file name, not descriptive words). Also it leaves it vulnerable to the problems I mentioned in the last paragraph.

Interesting that you brought up China there Dittany, you do realise that they do what I mentioned in the first paragraph and block all community led websites in order to stop anything they don't like getting through? what they mainly do is block traffic from outside of China (in order to host a local website you need permission)

Not really workable for stopping porn.

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 12:25:13

Niceguy2, that's a very good point that I hadn't really considered. ISP-level filtering will pretty much have to be in force, or not, for anyone using your Internet connection (assuming we avoid going down the horribly nasty and messy 802.1X network access control stuff. And, having BTDT in the past, I really rather hope we do avoid that).

By contrast, the (free!) Windows Family Safety Center stuff I've got installed on our family PC offers different levels of filtering for each user account. My 9yo DD's user account has a slightly different level of allowed/blocked sites than my 12yo DS. And that's not just porn. It also offers per-user reporting of which sites they've been to and which ones on the blocked list they've tried to access. Plus I can add or remove sites from those lists as I want. All this is, of course, in addition to me keeping a physical eye on what they're doing.

No ISP-level filtering service could possibly be that flexible. So even if my ISP did roll out a porn filtering service and I turned it on, I'd still need to do everything I'm doing today to ensure my children aren't going to sites I don't want them to go to.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 12:36:26

"Firstly why should I have to call up my ISP and ask for porn?"

That's pretty much the point - and exactly where the problem truly lies. You simply don't like the thought of having to do that.

I understand the technology perfectly. I worked for an ISP for 10 years. Of course they should have some responsibility for what they are hosting. The ISP I worked for made a fortune out of porn so should also have some responsibility about who is viewing it. If the BBC put out a hardcore porn film at 3pm, I am sure people would have something to say about it. That is the same argument, not the stuff you guffed out before as a comparison

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 12:39:07

LadyBlahBlah Do you want to phone up your ISP in order to use MN?

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 12:42:31

LadyBlaBlah, the proposals aren't about getting the ISPs who host porn to allow it to be blocked. They're about the ISPs who provide your broadband connection allowing it to be blocked. Hosting is not the same as connectivity.

Your comparison with the BBC is deeply flawed. The BBC selects, produces and broadcasts the programmes it chooses to. So if it chooses to broadcast porn at 3pm then, yes, they should be responsible for that.

Your broadband provider doesn't select, produce or broadcast anything by itself apart from its own homepage. It just provides a connection from your computer to sites you choose to access.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 12:43:08

You are being ridiculous Kaloki.

You can extend any theoretical argument you want for as long as you want but the fact remains that the xxx sites can be regulated. There is a very clear difference between Mumsnet and a site which has videos and streaming of women being "fucked in every hole". I know you can see that but are being deliberately obtuse and trying to look clever, but I would rather my 10 yo looked at Mumsnet than gangbangwhore.com

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 12:43:51

So you only want porn sites banned, not porn? Because porn isn't just on dedicated porn sites.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 12:45:05

You may try and patronise me with hosting vs connectivity. However I do know.

Name me an ISP that doesn't provide hosting but does provide connectivity - your argument is futile and incorrect.

ISPs can too decide what they host - that is a fact. They may make a commercial decision NOT to host kiddie porn, but it is only a commercial decision.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 12:49:14

hmm ISP's don't necessarily host websites, some do, but usually only basic free websites. Servers host websites. These are not ISP's.

I have a server, therefore I can host websites. I am not an ISP though, as I do not provide an internet service.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 12:52:23

What Snorbs is saying.

It is not the ISPs job to protect my children, that is my job.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Wed 22-Dec-10 13:21:27

Totally astonished by Dittany's applauding of China's internet laws.

You can say that the argument about what constitutes porn is a theoretical one but it's the crux of the matter really. My local paper called an approved sex education video for 11 year olds porn and got it banned in a school but carries 3 pages of advertising for prostitutes.

There's a two page article in the Sun by their agony aunt applauding this proposal by the way. My irony meter just exploded.

Why should adults have to phone up for access to sex education advice, sexual health advice, the mumsnet bumsex thread, sexual literature - as if it's some sordid activity rather than something that is an important part of life?

Really Jamie Oliver made a joke about spit-roasting his family? Really? My mum sometimes jokingly tells me to bugger off - is this an example of pornification of society? If you want to stop pornification you let adults decide what they want to view in the privacy of their own homes and campaign to remove soft porn from sweet shops and supermarket entrances.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 13:30:45

ISPs (Tier 1's) tend to own data centres where your Tier 2/3 providers may rent some rack space/rooms/floors - they are essentially customers of the Tier 1 ISP but smaller ISPs themselves (if you are talking about smaller hosting companies). Thus this can always be traceable back to a very few providers.

Your example of having a server at home which is then a hosting server could absolutely be shut down by the ISP if it were spamming and so on. All ISPs already have Acceptable Usage Policies - you might want to take a look

BT's are on this link and on the left navigation bars www2.bt.com/static/i/btretail/panretail/acceptable use/webspace.html

Interesting that one of the points is you must not host material that is "Content designed to offend or cause needless anxiety to others."

Wow - if you wanted a subjective argument Kaloki, there is one right there already.

LynetteScavo Wed 22-Dec-10 13:34:10

Well said, TondelayoSchwarzkopf.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 13:34:17

Just to be clear - if a user breached the AUP the ISP has the right to shut down the user's service.

Another one on BT's is "You must not use expressions that are offensive to others on grounds of gender, race colour, religion or other similar categories. "

If porn rape doesn't do that then I am not sure what does.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 13:36:50

>>>That's pretty much the point - and exactly where the problem truly lies. You simply don't like the thought of having to do that. <<<

Absolutely. Why should I have to call up my ISP and ask for porn when all I really want is to access a site such as FHM? Or a sex education site? What about wikipedia which got blocked for showing a CD album cover deemed for some reason to be child pornography?

This is not about me wanting to get my rocks off or not. This is about whether the proposal is workable.

LadyBlahBlah, without meaning to be rude, you clearly have no idea how the Internet works. It is not only what you see on your Internet Explorer/Firefox. That's relatively easy to control when you compare it to the other protocols such as bittorrent/IRC/newsgroups. Those are pure anarchy compared to http.

The only way to be able to clamp down is to adopt an approach like China. I don't know about you, I'd rather not have the great firewall of China thanks.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 13:47:00

With respect Niceguy2, I couldn't give a shit if you have to make one phonecall or send an email to your ISP so you can get your rocks off.

You can still have your personal firewall settings at home and do as you are doing now. One phone call or email won't make a difference to your life, if you chose to opt into the porn world.

Such a scheme would however make a difference when children see porn on handsets, at friend's houses, and so on. Yet, you are bothered because you have to out yourself as someone who watches porn.

And your arguments about knowing the internet are interesting - you seem to see the internet in a very one dimensional way - but I see you are a 'networking guy' so that is true to form.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 14:18:09

LadyBlahBlah you are choosing to ignore the fact that "porn filter" would most likely block a lot of innocuous stuff that isn't porn (eg. sex education websites) so "I couldn't give a shit if you have to make one phonecall or send an email to your ISP so you can get your rocks off" is missing the point spectacularly.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Wed 22-Dec-10 14:19:54

And quite rude I thought.

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