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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.

Maisiethemorningsidecat Mon 20-Dec-10 11:08:24

Agree - it's not before bloody time too. The ISPs have got away for far too much for far too long.

Mumsnet - please support this.

David51 Mon 20-Dec-10 11:11:37
mamas12 Mon 20-Dec-10 11:17:07

I hope this includes access to porn on phones too.

hellzapoppin Mon 20-Dec-10 11:28:28

About bloody time. the ISPs need to take responsibility - as this is something they have always been able to control. they never have because it's just not financially lucrative to do so.

Yes it has to be phones too.
My DSDs were first exposed to pornographic images via teenage boys' phones in the playground. sad

mamas12 Mon 20-Dec-10 11:30:17

Mine too. so angry about it, the only thing I can do is educate him and monitor and trust him. But you then get his 'friends' who send him things. It goes on, I hate it.

hellzapoppin Mon 20-Dec-10 11:39:11

Oh mamas12 it's so awful isn't it? makes you feel so helpless, but educate and monitor is all we can do for now.

Snorbs Mon 20-Dec-10 12:13:27

OK, I'll throw my hat into the ring here - can we NOT have a mumsnet campaign for such a poorly thought through and blatantly obvious thin-end-of-the-wedge idea such as this?

1) It won't stop easy access to pornography, either via the Internet or by other means. There was porn being distributed by computer before the World Wide Web was even invented. It wouldn't surprise me if there was (very low-res and blocky) porn being distributed between mainframes before even the Internet was invented. And modern distributed file technology such as torrents will make it impossible to "block at source" because there isn't any real "source" in the conventional sense.

2) Who gets to decide what is classed as "porn" in this context and what isn't? Sure, for a lot of porn sites that's a moot question but there are other sites where it isn't so clear cut. Flickr, for instance, hosts some pictures that are pornographic but also millions of pictures that aren't. Photobucket is the same. Would they get blocked? What happens if a site gets through that you think should be blocked? And vice-versa? Do you get to sue the ISP?

3) If the ISPs are forced to implement the technology to achieve this (which would be pretty expensive, so expect increased bills) then I very much doubt that porn will be the only thing the government will end up insisting they use it for. What next - "terrorist" sites? Sites that break libel laws? Sites that expose government corruption or other misdeeds? Wikileaks?

4) A child being shown pornographic images on someone else's phone is a social issue not a technological one. When I was at secondary school 20-odd years ago there was a spate of pages from porn magazines being left in people's desks.

5) It smacks to me of yet another attempt by people who can't be arsed to watch what their children do on a computer to off-load the responsibility onto someone else.

To stave off the inevitable accusations that I'm some sort of porn-hound, I'm not. I find porn usage rather sad and the industry surrounding it very seedy and unpleasant. But ill-conceived ideas such as this won't solve anything.

Maisiethemorningsidecat Mon 20-Dec-10 12:25:26

OK, you're entitled to your opinion. As someone (ie I'm people who can't be arsed to watch what their children do on a computer to off-load the responsibility onto someone else hmm) whose 13 year old son has seen porn at his friend's house I'd rather that the Govt did this than sitting back and doing nothing - and I'm happy for the ISPs to be forced to face up to their responsibilites through legislation.. Of course we saw porn 20 years ago, but it was nothing to what children can access now, and it was much harder to get hold of.

Snorbs Mon 20-Dec-10 12:52:13

"happy for the ISPs to be forced to face up to their responsibilites through legislation"

How, and why, is this the ISPs' responsibility? Is it the Post Office's responsibility if someone gets a porn mag posted to them? Or would it be Scania's responsibility as they made the trucks that the Post Office bought to carry the mail sacks?

Snorbs Mon 20-Dec-10 12:55:19

(Bugger, pressed Post too early)

As for your example of your son being shown porn at a friend's house: If my son went to a friend's house and watched an 18-certificate movie, would that be the responsibility of the manufacturer of the DVD player? Or the manufacturer of the TV? Maybe the distributor of the movie?

Or would it, just possibly, be the responsibility of the parent(s) of that friend for failing to supervise what their child is up to?

David51 Mon 20-Dec-10 13:02:01

hi Snorbs

I dont find the 'thin end of the wedge' type argument very convincing as you end up saying there's no point in trying to do anything. Obviously the law has to be framed to make sure it applies only to porn, so anything else would need additional laws.

'Who decides?' There are effective server-side filters out there already so it won't all have to be done from scratch. An independent non-government body financed by the industry can then handle additions & exceptions

Your point 2 seems to be another case of 'If we cant get a perfect solution there's no point in trying to get an imperfect one' Maybe you'll never be able to block everything but so what? The worst stuff doesnt appear on social sites like YouTube because of the feedback function allowing any user to flag offensive material

However your (techie) point about bit torrents is an interesting one - if its going to be technically impossible we'd better not delude ourselves otherwise

So let's see what proposals if any come out of the ISP/minister meetings (I hope at least you don't object to the idea of a public consultation on the issue?)

And we should still contact our ISPs to see what they think so at least they are taking the issue more seriously than hitherto

PlentyOfParsnips Mon 20-Dec-10 13:16:13

While this sounds a great idea in theory, I have to agree with Snorbs - the devil's in the details.

We have a parental control thingy on our Virgin TV package but have had to turn it off as it can't tell the difference between a BBC comedy with a slightly rude word in it and the 24 hour porn channels.

Opt-in internet parental controls already exist and it's up to us as parents to use them.

Snorbs Mon 20-Dec-10 13:26:55

Can you name any of these "effective server-side filters"? The ones I've had experience of (from a corporate network acceptable usage filtering point of view) tend to be rather broad in their definition of what is unacceptable and need a lot of fine-tuning of the lists.

But it's nice that you seem happy to finance both the purchase of the kit (£££), the ongoing service contract costs from the providers of the filter lists (£££££), and the costs of yet another industry body (££££££££). Can you pay my share too?

I'm not talking about YouTube which is why I didn't say YouTube - YouTube doesn't, for the most part, have any porn on it. At least not for very long. I specifically mentioned Flickr and Photobucket because they (and others) do although they are also getting quicker at deleting it. And do you recall when even Wikipedia was accused of hosting pornographic images? Shall we get that blocked as well?

Do you really think a "public consultation" will make the slightest difference to any decision that is made? Really? Ah, how delightfully naive of you. Bless.

How about this for an alternative option - if an ISP thinks there is sufficient demand for a filtered Internet connection they can offer it as a service to their customers and increase the costs accordingly (eg, like AOL used to do). Anyone on non-filtered Internet connections can then transfer their business to the filtered ones if they so desire. Those who are happy to simply keep an eye on what their children are doing can stay where they are and on a cheaper rate.

No need for legislation, no need for mandatory installation of kit and services, no need for Yet Another Industry Body, it's simply a matter of letting consumers choose with their wallets.

Odd how a supposedly Conservative government is shying away from a market-forces led approach. I wonder if this has any connection to the numerous attempts over the past decade to come up with some kind of reason for mandatory Internet filtering equipment to be installed in all ISPs? Nah, surely not.

KalokiMallow Mon 20-Dec-10 13:37:47

Honestly, I'm with Snorbs it doesn't seem well thought out at all.

For a start no filter is going to be perfect which means porn will be accessible anyway, whereas innocent material may not.

How on earth will the implement it?
- By blocking websites? That'll take down any community led sites straight away.

- By blocking keywords? Say you block the word "nude"? There goes any classical artwork.

Also will using keywords block images or sites? If it's images then most sites don't bother attaching keywords, and file names are usually a combination of numbers. If it's sites, then bye bye MN.

I know people will respond with "adults can opt in" but you know there'll be an additional charge for the admin of that don't you?

Does anyone honestly think this is going to work?

ItsAHollyJollyTee Mon 20-Dec-10 13:49:00

I'm also with snorbs.

Until people can give me an exact definition of 'porn' then who decides what should be blocked?

Is the film The Postman Always Ring Twice any less pornographic than Debby Does Dallas just because Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange star?

Is Robert Mapplethorpe's art any less pornographic than Big Tits and Ass Pics just because it says art at the end rather than pics?

Useful websites regarding breast cancer and the like have been blocked by this sort of software because of the word breast.

Also, not the ISP's problem. I agree, it's a parental problem.

Get the government out of my bedroom and off my computer, thanks!

Mumi Mon 20-Dec-10 13:51:36

This idea isn't even half baked. I agree absolutely with Snorbs.

KalokiMallow Mon 20-Dec-10 14:54:34

Article here also points out that child abuse is currently blocked by ISP's. Except it is still online, they haven't managed to block it.

Snorbs Mon 20-Dec-10 18:30:42

And another thing...!

When we talk about "porn", do we just mean images? Or images and videos? Or images, videos and stories?

What about descriptions of sexual acts? That could be mumsnet blocked then. And, as previously noted, Wikipedia. And the Brook Advisory Service. And ChildLine. Because they all contain descriptions of sexual acts that at least some people - eg, members of certain religious groups - object very strongly to being available to children and young people.

Niceguy2 Tue 21-Dec-10 12:31:02

Snorbs has spoken a lot of common sense and obviously has more knowledge than the minister who has proposed this.

I completely agree with what Snorbs said.

It's not about getting the "perfect" solution, it's about if one is technically possible in the first place and would provide value for money.

Let's assume you can easily block porn websites. What about bittorrents, newsgroups, IRC, GNUTella networks? Most of you have probably only heard of Bittorrent but the rest are also there and you can easily find porn on there too.

And that's before you factor in simply bypassing UK controls by bouncing your traffic from a non-UK IP (eg. using VPN or a proxy).

Think its hard? Think again. Most kids at my DD(14)'s school will probably be able to tell you how they bypass the filters on their school computers. It's about as hard as typing in "how to bypass school filters" into google. Try it.

It's about as feasible as asking BT to implement technology to stop people from saying the word "bomb" during a conversation.

And as Snorbs said, who do we entrust with coming up with the blocklist? The IWF? They flipping blocked Wikipedia after someone posted an album cover for a Scorpions song. The government? Oh, I can see Wikileaks disappearing quickly.

All these proposal's do is provide the politician's with a good soundbite, load up costs onto the ISP's (which will then pass onto us) and the only ones who are "protected" are those too stupid to use a computer.

Sorry but anyone with a modicum of knowledge of how the Internet works will realise that large scale filtering is simply doomed to failure.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Tue 21-Dec-10 12:35:48

Please DO NOT back this campaign. This is censorship. China blocks ISPs and we all know how well that's worked out with regard to human rights and free expression.

Pornography is not illegal - where do you stop?

Agree with everything that Snorbs says.

David51 Tue 21-Dec-10 16:27:08

If it turns out to be technically impossible then obviously thats the end of the argument. That's why Vaizey is consulting with the various ISPs. Personally I don't believe you should draw conclusions before the evidence is in, but maybe that's just me.

But suppose it was possible, what would be left of the case against? Are you really going to rely on academic quibbles about the exact meaning of the word 'pornography'? Or the fact that the body charged with making decisions may not always get it right?

Remember - contrary to the last posting - we're not talking about censorship here. If you want it you'll be able to get it. The only difference is you won't get it by default but will have to go to the trouble of opting in.

A tiny number of ISPs already have porn filters in place as default but for most people currently we aren't even allowed to opt out. Please explain to me how this situation is supposed to be conducive to our liberties?

dittany Tue 21-Dec-10 16:34:06

Hands up who uses porn who's against this measure.

Snorbs Tue 21-Dec-10 17:49:35

"A tiny number of ISPs already have porn filters in place as default but for most people currently we aren't even allowed to opt out. Please explain to me how this situation is supposed to be conducive to our liberties?"

You are allowed to opt out. You even described how you could do so. You simply vote with your feet and move to one of the ISPs that does do filtering by default. Moving ISP is fairly straightforward these days.

How is that such a bad situation that it needs legislation to fix it?

earwicga Tue 21-Dec-10 17:52:35

I'm with Snorbs - this would also block a lot of sex education sites. And anything that is deemed not 'vanilla'.

I would like it there was a surefire way to block porn, and only porn, but I would eat my hat if this proposal achieves this.

earwicga Tue 21-Dec-10 17:53:04

Please don't get involved Mumsnet.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Tue 21-Dec-10 18:08:57

What's the point of a Mumsnet campaign to get the government to do...er...something they are already doing?

KalokiMallow Tue 21-Dec-10 18:09:05

Dittany - not sure of your point there.

Niceguy2 Tue 21-Dec-10 18:11:19

Hi David

I guess its because networking IS my business. I do this day in, day out. So I have a deep understanding on what the govt are proposing and how bonkers it is.

You are right. 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.

But when the ideas are half baked nonsense that won't work then no, I won't support them and I urge everyone not to either.

Just think about how it would work in practice for a moment. The obvious sites would get blocked fair enough.

What about the less obvious sites like FHM, Maxim and other lads mags? They have topless pictures all the time. Do you block those? Personally I dont count those as pornographic but others would.

What about a forum like MN? What if a poster linked a load of porno videos/photos? The site may well refuse to take them down especially if they are based outside the UK. What then? Do we ban the entire site?

What about a website using videos & photos demonstrating sexual positions etc.

What about adult services such as escorting? Again, I suspect most would say an obvious ban.....but its not really the same as pornography is it?

Extending that one step further, what about those discussing prostitution? Is that pornography or is that simply free speech? Does that get an automatic block? Last year, Harriet Harman tried to get a very high profile website shutdown where users discussed prostitution and advertised services to men. Said site was based in the US and she famously called the Governator who promptly told her to go away. Something about their pesky first amendment and free speech!

For me the common sense solution if the govt are truly serious to protect kids would be to promote the use of parental control software. There are plenty out there both free & commercial. It's much like antivirus software. It still wont eradicate the problem entirely but its a damn site easier, cheaper than mass censorship and engages the parent who ultimately is the lynchpin in ensuring online child safety.

As I often tell my managers, technology only gets you so far. Sometimes people need to be responsible for themselves.

ItsAHollyJollyTee Tue 21-Dec-10 18:19:35

Excellent post Niceguy.

Dittany, so what if I do? Or don't? What does my viewing have to do with the fact that I hate censorship and stupidity and this is both?

earwicga Tue 21-Dec-10 18:21:56

'Hands up who uses porn who's against this measure.'

How about those who don't 'use' porn and are against it? Or wouldn't they fit in with your narrow view?

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Tue 21-Dec-10 18:23:44

Why should people who use pornography have to ring up their ISP to tell them they want to use it? Apparently 50% of internet use is for adult viewing so that would put a lot of work onto the ISPs and they would pass the costs onto their customers.

And how can we separate pornography from other sex education and health related sites?

I would prefer the government to stop retailers from putting porn on full view in sweet shops and grocers. I would much prefer if adults purchase this content in the privacy of their own home.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Tue 21-Dec-10 18:25:13

The hands of porn-users are usually otherwise occupied I'm afraid grin.

Scaredycat3000 Tue 21-Dec-10 18:56:21

ton grin

onagar Tue 21-Dec-10 19:13:13

If the government insist that ISPs find a way then there is one way that would work. You wouldn't like it though.

You start by blocking ALL of the internet. Then you allow through those sites which have applied for the right and been vetted by some committee.

Not google or Mumsnet because neither has any real control over their content. You could have the BBC, a few shopping sites, weather sites etc. Adding more would be slow and expensive and at the first complaint a site would lose its licence and be gone.

The rest of the internet would be gone completely. No more mumsnet, no more wikileaks, no more filesharing. No more stories about MPs expenses.

Or you could let the parents of the children sort out their own controls over their kids as they mostly do now.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Tue 21-Dec-10 19:20:18
notcitrus Tue 21-Dec-10 19:39:44

I was going to add my voice to those saying that this proposal is unnecessary, unworkable, and will have ill-advised side effects such as cutting children off from sources of advice about sex and sexuality, but Petra Boynton has explained the issues much more clearly than I could.

Many thanks Tondelayo for the link.

KalokiMallow Tue 21-Dec-10 19:40:53

Onagar is right, that is the only way to ensure the internet is porn free.

ItsAHollyJollyTee Tue 21-Dec-10 19:44:02

Great link, thanks.

Niceguy2 Tue 21-Dec-10 19:52:05

Oh and whilst we are at it, lets not forget that filtering technology will directly impact your broadband speeds.

Australia have been toying with this for a few years now. Trials organised by their govt have shown of six filters tested, only one had an acceptable drop in performance of 2%. The rest resulted in drops of between 21% -86% in speed.

Their largest ISP's all refuse to take part. All bar one who has agreed to take part only to show that filtering does not work! smile

And Ton's link was very good. I hadn't even considered the difference between erotica and porn. One man's porn is another man's erotica.

LynetteScavo Tue 21-Dec-10 20:42:10

I don't use porn...and I don't want any porn in my house. But I don't see how this is workable.

But then I'm sceptical because my DS, at the grand old age of 9, was able to accidentally access hard porn on the schools computer.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Tue 21-Dec-10 21:21:34

I think the definition is:

THEY use pornography.
YOU like erotica
I appreciate narratives with challenging and frank adult themes.

smile

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 09:39:16

I think this morning's problem with MN being maliciously reported as an attack site is a very good example of why mass censorship doesn't work.

http://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/site_stuff/1109797-Sto %20pBadware-org

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 09:42:29

The hackers are the censors

ItsAHollyJollyTee Wed 22-Dec-10 09:47:52

I was thinking that NiceGuy.

Too much power in small hands with small minds is a bad bad thing.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 10:02:37

I agree Holly, the pornographers have far too much power. They've been able to pornify our society almost without any restriction on them whatsoever.

Jamie Oliver was making jokes about spit-roasting on his family Christmas show. That's a good example of how sexually abusive attitudes have infiltrated our culture.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 10:04:33

This isn't censorship by the way. People will be able to opt in to feed their wanking porn habit. They aren't banning porn they are just making it less readily available.

Saltatrix Wed 22-Dec-10 10:28:29

There are an opt in filters around parents should take responsibility rather than expect someone else to do it for them because without their supervision it will still be pretty easy to get access to pornography.

Pornography is not illegal so if they start blocking that what else would they block?

StuffingGoldBrass Wed 22-Dec-10 10:42:05

Oh this is yet another bandwagon being jumped on by idiots who are both technologically illiterate and sexually dysfunctional. Dr Boynton says it all, basically.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 10:51:40

I'd say it was the misogynists who can't last a minute without their porn who are the ones with sexual disfunction. If you can't experience sex without having to see women prostituted there's probably something fairly heavily wrong with you.

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.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 14:24:31

I am not ignoring that point at all Kaloki. It is a non argument. Filters do this all the time - not 100% correctly but they do it. Do you use a firewall at home that blocks Adult Material (or as we call it, porn)? And if so, are you able to get onto sex education websites?

I do and I can. Occasionally, the filters make a mistake, but it takes one person to notify the software company and the problem is fixed. I don't understand why you keep labouring this point about sex education websites

This is ridiculous. And possibly even dafter than the Let Girls Be Girls nebulous mess campaign.

Dr Boynton's choice of photo on that link is spot on though grin

Depressingly, I can see all sorts of people falling for it.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 14:38:35

Because the main reason for having ISP's block porn is to stop children stumbling across it right?

So in order to stop that you'd have to block more than just dedicated porn sites, agreed? Because surely otherwise children could stumble across porn a myriad of other ways.

How do you think they could stop the porn that isn't on porn dedicated sites?

As we keep pointing out, they'd have to block community led websites (just in case) and anything with porn related keywords (eg. breast, penis, vagina, sex) which would result in blocking sex education sites.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 14:42:24

Btw, if you do think it is only porn dedicated sites that need blocking then I can't help wondering how that is going to make a radical difference. If a child is looking up porn sites, then you can guarantee that a lack of porn sites wont stop them finding porn elsewhere (and easily too I imagine)

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 15:18:44

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

Totally unastonished that a porn-defender would twist what I said into something I didn't say.

I was talking about what was technically possible and then I said said that China was using the technology for evil (as are pornographers and porn users).

StuffingGoldBrass Wed 22-Dec-10 15:49:56

DOn't forget that a lot of the people who get behind campaigns like this will be the sort who don't want young people to have access to information about sexuality and their bodies, because the only information they want young people to have is 'Say your prayers and wait until your wedding night'.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 15:51:56

A lot of people who are against campaigns like this will be porn users or even make a living from the sex industry.

LynetteScavo Wed 22-Dec-10 15:53:06

But then again a lot of people against this will never use porn, but have distrust of censorship.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 15:54:02

So, porn users are evil?

LynetteScavo Wed 22-Dec-10 15:55:24

And I would opt out, to make sure I have to stay on my toes about what my DC are accessing, instead of trusting that nothing unsuitable sneaks through.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 15:55:29

Nope, they are using internet technology for evil. Different thing.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 15:56:39

Actually a fair few of us are against it because we can see some (major) flaws in the plan.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 15:59:51

Not because you or your partners are porn users then?

This is definitely an argument where a person needs to declare an interest.

I don't use porn, nor does my DP. I don't want to ban it though. How on earth do you define it for one thing?

This plan is barking basically. It won't work (for reasons better techie minds have explained already).

Pornographers will find ways around it.

There are tools there already to filter this stuff - parents need to be using these.

And who exactly is going to be defining pornography on our behalf?

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 16:03:44

What do you class erotic literature as, Dittany?

Ermmm, the defining thing. Didn't mean to mention it twice.

StuffingGoldBrass Wed 22-Dec-10 16:06:54

Yes, Dittany, how would you ensure that people still have access to educational stuff about sex and about bodies in general? Or do you think that is not particularly important as long as people can be prevented from wanking?

What's your interest dittany?

And what do you define as "porn"?

BadgersPaws Wed 22-Dec-10 16:08:59

"DOn't forget that a lot of the people who get behind campaigns like this will be the sort who don't want young people to have access to information about sexuality and their bodies"

That's already happened.....

One of the MPs who kicked this whole thing off is Claire Perry. She launched her career enhancing yet child safety damaging campaign after having her head filled with bobbins at a conference hosted by a group called SaferMedia on Monday the 22nd of November.

SaferMedia used to be known as MediaMarch, they recently rebranded themselves possibly to try and distance themselves from what they used to get up to. Their activities have includes:

Hinted that a Steven Segal movie inspired Derrick Bird (the Cumbria murderer).

Petitioned Downing Street complaining that "the BBFC (funded by the film industry) no longer believes in censorship but in giving adults guidance so they may decide what they want to watch." Imagine that, giving guidance to adults to make their own choices, awful.

They've held conferences before saying that sex education is a bad thing and that "the solution is a mixture of abstinence and Christian teaching".

They weren't keen on the Kinsey movie saying "the film implies that sexual deviations of all kinds (especially homosexuality) are wide-spread."

So there you go, the people who believe that this campaign will help children also believe that Steven Seagal can inspire you to do anything other than switch the TV off or mumble. They believe that giving adults guidance is wrong. They believe that sex education is wrong. Finally, and most worryingly, they also believe that homosexuality is a "sexual deviation".

They also want the entire Internet to be rated and for 18+ pages to come with cigarette style health warnings. Yes that is technically impossible but reality and technical possibility have nothing to do with what these people want.

They're quite happy to give China as an example of internet censorship done right yet decline any mention of Australia's attempts to do this which highlight just how impossible a task this is.

So if these people get their hands on the internet can you imagine what sort of things that want to restrict.

So let's just sum this up...

1) It's technically impossible.
2) It's dangerous to our children as it will lead parents to believe that the internet it safe when won't be (see point 1).
3) It will be expensive forcing up the cost of internet access when we're trying to get more people online.
4) MPs like Clare Perry either don't know about points 1 & 2 or don't care, she got her meeting with a minister so it's thumbs up for her career.
5) The people pushing the MPs have far reaching and disturbing aims.

The only solution to the problem of internet porn is to educate parents about it. Doing anything like this only pushes that education back and will endanger our children.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 16:09:14

Leave sex education out of the opt out clause. It's not hard to tell the difference between sex education and porn - they manage not to show pornography in schools.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 16:10:27

My interest is that I'm an anti-porn feminist Jenni.

What's yours?

Porn is sexually explicit material designed for masturbation purposes.

BadgersPaws Wed 22-Dec-10 16:10:28

"Yes, Dittany, how would you ensure that people still have access to educational stuff about sex and about bodies in general?"

Well the people behind this, SaferMedia, don't want people to have access to sex education so to them that's not a problem.

BadgersPaws Wed 22-Dec-10 16:12:34

"My interest is that I'm an anti-porn feminist Jenni."

So do something to genuinely make a difference rather than back a plan that:

1) Won't work
2) Will cost a fortune
3) Will make children less safe as parents relax their guard.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 16:16:21

I'm not doing anything, this is a government proposal.

My general approach to porn is to work to get people to wake up to its woman hating content.

1) It probably will work
2) It'll cost ISPs money but I'm sure they can cope with that
3)Children are already unsafe and being exposed to pornography. Parents unfortunately aren't protecting them or rather aren't able to protect them because the stuff is everywhere now.
4)Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't be doing, that's just cheeky.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 22-Dec-10 16:17:11

I'm not a porn user, dunno if my DH is, strongly suspect my two adult sons are. I would oppose this for all the reasons the antis have already said.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 16:17:24

>>>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.<<<

As I said earlier, IF there was a viable plan with a sensible definition, I would cautiously support it. However, knowing what I know about the Internet, its simply impractical.

It's about as practical as giving you a phone and then asking BT to make sure you don't say the word "bomb". Then you arguing on child protection grounds that BT should spend the millions/billions on technology to support it.

I'm not sure why you assume I am simply running scared of having my porn blocked. I am not. Firstly like I said, I know enough to easily bypass it. Secondly (not that it's any of your business) but I'm not even particularly interested. My GF wants to watch some with me this weekend and frankly a) I can't be bothered and b) i have to now bloody find some! After a while it all follows the same pattern. In/out/cum shot. wink

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 16:19:42

"Leave sex education out of the opt out clause. It's not hard to tell the difference between sex education and porn - they manage not to show pornography in schools."

If a person is looking maybe, but to implement something this major you'd need to programme something to know the difference, how on earth would that be possible?

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 16:20:53

PS. just so you aren't going to continue talking about us being upset our porn access is cut off, neither myself or DH watch porn.

BadgersPaws Wed 22-Dec-10 16:22:32

"1) It probably will work"

No it won't. Even China who are desperate to censor the internet and throw vast amounts of human and financial resources at the "problem" can't make it work. Plus China don't mind "accidentally" blocking entire sites that cause a problem.

"2) It'll cost ISPs money but I'm sure they can cope with that"

There's not a lot of money in the ISP game, it's an expensive business. They will just pass all the costs over to the users, so internet costs will rise pricing people off of the internet.

"3)Children are already unsafe and being exposed to pornography. Parents unfortunately aren't protecting them or rather aren't able to protect them because the stuff is everywhere now."

True.

So the solution is to educate people out of their position of ignorance so they can protect their children.

Putting in place a system that, as said, won't work will just trick those that are trying to keep their guard into thinking "well I don't need to do anything now" when they still need to be on their toes.

Any delay to the point in time when we begin to educate people about the internet is time in which children will be exposed to harmful content on the internet.

"4)Don't tell me what I should or shouldn't be doing, that's just cheeky."

Well you seem to want to make a difference and to do good things, and this proposal is the complete opposite of that.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 16:27:22

Badgers if you've got a better solution to the pornification of our culture and children's exposure to porn, I'm all ears. Until then, this looks like the best we've got.

I also don't think parents ought to have to be "educated out of their ignorance". There is no way that society should be supporting this mass dissemination of misogyny and sexual abuse of women.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 22-Dec-10 16:31:01

you know what, as an adult, I have the ability to source pornography. If there is away of taking it off the internet so that my boys don't grow up believing that some of the extreme things you find are normality and are loving caring relations then I applaud the people trying.
just because something is difficult does't mean we shouldn't talk about it,
just because something is hard to define doesn't mean we shoudn't try to define it.

I have to say that I am quickly coming to the view that the search for sexual arousal and satisfaction cant and shouln't be held over and above the rights for our children's innocence.

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 16:32:16

LadyBlaBlah, I'm glad you know the difference between hosting and Internet service connectivity to the home. Now go and read the actual proposals for the Internet filtering idea we're discussing here. At some point you will (hopefully) realise that the filtering proposal is nothing to do with hosting and everything to do with connectivity.

Or, to put it another way, your talk about hosting is entirely irrelevant to the points under discussion.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 16:32:55

do you class erotic literature as porn?

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 22-Dec-10 16:33:53

yes, I do, it isn't something that I would want my children reading

My interest dittany is in not wanting to support a programme that won't work.

I don't have an issue with adults accessing porn, if that's their thing. Obviously as a feminist there's plenty of porn that I object to - but I don't object to porn per se.

BadgersPaws Wed 22-Dec-10 16:34:42

"Badgers if you've got a better solution to the pornification of our culture and children's exposure to porn, I'm all ears. Until then, this looks like the best we've got."

Yes education, it is the only solution.

You don't go putting something into place that won't work, will be expensive (thus pricing people off of the internet) and will lead to more children seeing harmful things just so that you can be seen to be doing something.

The first rule has surely got to be to not make the situation worse, and this proposal falls at that first hurdle.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 16:34:51

"... if you've got a better solution to.... children's exposure to porn"

Yes. It's called parental controls, parental involvement and not expecting a nanny state to do my job for me.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 16:35:03

"I have to say that I am quickly coming to the view that the search for sexual arousal and satisfaction cant and shouln't be held over and above the rights for our children's innocence."

Those of us arguing against this idea aren't arguing for the right to view porn. Just pointing out that this proposed plan for the ISP's to block porn will

a) not block porn
b) block non-porn

Therefore it's a lot of effort in order to end up in a situation not much better than the current one.

A better solution would be for more people to learn to use filters on their own computers.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 22-Dec-10 16:38:52

I understand that BUT surely doing something even if it is partbaked is better than nothing.

is there something that can legally STOP google from advertising sites?
I KNOW that there is a site called anontalk that is still up on google, it is a place for paedophiles to swap files and talk about conquests it is hideous and yet google still have it linked into the site

SUrely there is a way to get search engines to have some algorhythmn (not sure what that actually means) so that sites with clearly illegal content aren't shown!

BadgersPaws Wed 22-Dec-10 16:39:46

"Those of us arguing against this idea aren't arguing for the right to view porn."

That the people who are in favour of this proposal have to see those opposed to it as being in favour of porn says an awful lot about their faith in their arguments....

BadgersPaws Wed 22-Dec-10 16:42:11

"I understand that BUT surely doing something even if it is partbaked is better than nothing."

No.

Doing something that:
a) Won't work
b) Will price people off the internet
c) Will cause more children to be harmed
d) Will delay the only genuine fix for the problem

is in no way better than doing nothing.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 16:42:33

Partbaked, and expensive. Would you want to pay more for your internet connection for somethig which has to be given up on?

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 16:43:34

By the way, is it possible to have this discussion without the snide insinuations that the only reason people could possibly be against this idea is because they're users of porn? It's neither necessary nor accurate. Thanks awfully.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 16:44:36

" It'll cost ISPs money but I'm sure they can cope with that"

No, it won't cost them money, it will cost us money.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 16:44:47

Exactly Kaloki.

This is nothing about whether or kids are becoming sexualised too early etc. Those who are using those arguments are simply using fear, uncertainty & doubt to promote their beliefs.

Right now, just pop along to K9webprotection and download your own parental controls. It's done then.

Those of you saying well what about those parents who don't know. Well education is way better for them. To help them protect their kids better.

For those parents who don't give a toss. Well their kids are doomed anyway and whether or not they see accidentally see porn is probably the least of the child's worries.

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 16:48:53

I would love it if porn sites could be opt-in only.

Much like buying porn in magazines was an opt-in activity like in ye olden dayes.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 16:49:44

I believe they are mainly bibbity it stands to reason that they are in it to make money, therefore will not allow anyone in without parting with the cash.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 16:49:55

Bibbty. I would love it too.....if it worked.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 16:53:29

Gah, damn browser. The rest of the post was meant to read.

It's not the main porn sites which children can access, it's the porn scattered over the rest of the web which is the problem. And also why this plan can not possibly work.

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 16:53:54

Kaloki - erm, have you seen what is online three clicks of the mouse away?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 22-Dec-10 16:54:39

Here's an idea; how about we ban under-18s from the internet?

It's about as practical as what's mooted.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 16:57:50

That's kind of my point though Bibbity, it's not just the dedicated porn sites which have porn on them.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 17:01:36

Conversely, Mumsnet has been blocked on my PC several times because the heuristic controls suspected it was offering gambling.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 17:05:32

Badgers said: "Putting in place a system that, as said, won't work will just trick those that are trying to keep their guard into thinking "well I don't need to do anything now" when they still need to be on their toes."

That is a strange argument. If you can educate people "out of their ignorance" then you can also educate them to realise that no system offers 100% protection. It is supposedly what happens now with personal firewall filters - do people still think now that they have protected their children because they have a filter in place? IME,usually yes. But filters are only as good as the information they have on the websites that are out there and the updates they get.

Which is why the argument about sex education websites not getting through is futile. A filter is literally a list of websites that are unsuitable according to a set of criteria. So if someone tried to access the BBC website which had some sex education information on, and couldn't, this person could contact the ISP and tell them. A human would look at the site and say "actually that site is fine, it is not adult porn humiliating women, I will take this site off the hit list". This problem would never happen again, to any other user, ever again. It's not that much of an issue for everyone.

Filter lists are flexible, and non static. Just because the filter might make a mistake on a website doesn't mean it will make a mistake every time - it will only make the mistake until the system has been notified and changed. And this goes both ways for letting through porn and also not giving access to non x rated sites.

There already is a system in place for age categories used for TV and film - and I don't hear many people on here saying that this is censorship and we should be able to have 18 films on the tv at 5pm. The classification of porn argument is simply an irrelevant red herring. If anyone seriously believes that content shouldn't be 'censored' for children, they are literally insane.

And this argument that supporting a proposal such as this then follows into a place where people don't support/allow sex education is ludicrous and unsubstantiated, and simply wrong.

chibi Wed 22-Dec-10 17:06:12

I think the comparisons between what we saw as children and what our own children are exposed to are daft

my generation might have seen some tattered old dad's mag with a naked girl posing

My daughter/son will probably see video on the Internet/mobile of double anal or god knows what

I am sure that there has always been a Market for such things, but their availability has skyrocketed

hurray for freedom I guess, but I hate the idea that my children will see these things and assimilate them into their view of what sex is, and adjust their expectations accordingly

I want them to grow up confident in expressing their sexuality in a way that is consistent with respect for themselves, and for other human beings, where they are not doing things because 'well that's what you are meant to do/what you ought to like/etc'

I don't feel that early exposure to porn is going to facilitate this attitude

I feel more confident in my ability to protect them from being exposed to stuff like SAW or similar than I do from porn

I have no idea what the answer is, but I sure as he'll resent how bloody inevitable it feels

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 17:06:20

Kaloki - I am telling you that you can see quite enough porn, for free, from dedicated porn sites.

I am blissfully ignorant about porn elsewhere on the internet.

I know that determined youngsters will find a way to access it, but I don't see any necessity or argument for handing them a gazillion images on a plate.

StuffingGoldBrass Wed 22-Dec-10 17:09:25

ANother point is that there is actually no reliable evidence whatsoever that seeing porn is actually doing young people harm. There isn't much of an argument that viewing porn does anyone harm: there are certainly no properly-conducted, non-discredited studies on the subject.
(The issue of harm done by way of exploitation and coercion of some performers is a different issue, and not one that will be fixed by banning people from looking at pictures).

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 17:10:53

"A filter is literally a list of websites that are unsuitable according to a set of criteria."

In which case what would happen to websites with content added to them by the community? Eg. wikipedia, youtube, flickr, message forums, chat rooms

Because either you let those through, and porn is available to young children. Or you don't and they have to be opted in to.

Or to get around this are you going to block individual pages? Or images? Based on what?

- People reporting them? Oh yeah.. can't see any problems with that.

- Keywords? See previous arguments

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 17:10:56

If you are saying that the filters on k9webprotection work, then it follows that it is technically possible for the ISPs to filter out porn.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 17:11:25

"I know that determined youngsters will find a way to access it, but I don't see any necessity or argument for handing them a gazillion images on a plate."

And that is why I will control what they see and teach them what to do if something inappropriate gets through. I don't need a solution that is like cracking a nut with a steam roller.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 17:11:45

Kaloki - how do you think these parental filters work?

slhilly Wed 22-Dec-10 17:12:37

There are two things to discuss here:
- could we do this? and if we can, then
- should we do this?

So can we do this?
Any filter must always trade off sensitivity and specificity -- this concept is true for randomised controlled trials of drugs, for breast cancer screening, for noise filters on hifis and much more besides.

If the porn website filter is very sensitive, it will block most porn websites but also block many other sites (sex ed, mumsnet, nhs.net etc); if the porn website filter is too specific, it will correctly allow viewing of those non-porn sites, but will also fail to block many porn sites.

With judicious tweaking, I'm sure that a website filter can be got to be quite accurate -- blocking whitehouse.com but not whitehouse.gov etc. However, it will:
a) require extensive handtuning by people and continuous monitoring -- it can never be fully automated, and there is just an insane amount of content out there to monitor
b) still get it wrong lots of the time, leading to outrage at every Type 1 and 2 error
c) be completely ineffective against torrents etc until software is capable of reliably identifying sexual displays and acts, so that the filtering doesn't happen at site level but at content level
d) always be ineffective at distinguishing between porn and other sexual images. To paraphrase Dittany, porn is sexual material intended to arouse -- and it is simply impossible for a filter to reliably ascertain intent. For example, a filter will not be able to distinguish between the use of the word "cunt" in a porn story and a feminist anti-porn site discussing how disgusting that story is for using the word "cunt" in a way that's derogatory to women.

Therefore, I don't think we can do this, and ought to tackle the problems in other ways, especially education.

As declarations of interest have been asked for, I have used porn in the past and enjoyed it, but am now deeply troubled by the violence inherent in its manufacture. However, I'm also deeply troubled by the violence involved in getting the minerals required to make my mobile phone run, ie I don't think of porn as being a "separate" problem from other problems we face.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 17:12:50

"If you are saying that the filters on k9webprotection work, then it follows that it is technically possible for the ISPs to filter out porn.

And if they work then the solution is already there and we needn't waste anymore time or money looking for a more heavy handed version.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 17:13:11

Tinsel - the whole point is that you can't control exactly what they get through - especially via mobile devices. ISPs on the other hand could control this

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 17:13:57

Surely the argument is about all the times they are looking at the internet on a pc/laptop/phone that is not within your control dragon.

PlentyOfParsnips Wed 22-Dec-10 17:14:35

I'm not a porn user. Off the top of my head I can think of two reasons why I would be contacting my ISP to switch this filtering off - sexual health sites and arts sites. When that happens, I don't want my name on a handy list of people who have chosen to access porn.

Greyskull, no there is no way to write an algorithm that will reliably distinguish between porn and innocent content. It's something even live people have trouble with, and we have some grasp of things like context, which computers can't really do.

'something must be done - here is something, therefore we must do it' is flawed logic.

These proposals will not stop porn getting through, will block a lot of innocent content, will give people a false sense of security, will be very expensive and will slow down the whole internet. These proposals are worse than nothing, especially as parental controls already exist.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 17:14:51

They are much more personalised. To apply them to an ISP you'd have to have the ISP set on the strictest criteria, which would mean that a lot of things would be blocked that didn't need blocking. And whereas on a parental filter you could decide how much or how little you wanted filtered, that's not exactly going to translate well to an ISP.

Customer - I'd like you to unblock certain individual websites for me, but not all of them.
ISP - sure, we totally don't mind all the additional admin work and wont be passing the cost on to any of our customers at all

hmm

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 17:19:21

Ps. Just so you know, I had to call up my mobile phone company to ask for access to "adult content" as they'd blocked loads of things that definitely could not be construed as porn. One was a website for the use of those with eating disorders, self harm problems, mental health issues and those who had suffered sexual abuse. This is how reliable those filters are.

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 17:21:11

bibbity, if you're worried about PCs/laptops/etc that aren't in your personal possession then these measures will do nothing to address those concerns. After all, even if you turn on the filtering for your own Internet connection, there's no guarantee that every other person's own Internet connections will be similarly filtered. So your child goes round to someone else's house and you'll still have no control over what they're accessing.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 17:21:49

Yes, Bibbety, just like my finding porn magazines in the park and reading them was out of my parents control. Even with an ISP block they will manage to see it if they try hard enough. There will always be ways round it for both supplier and viewer.

How about alcohol. That is not suitable for children so how about we block that completely?

TeiTetua Wed 22-Dec-10 17:22:13

The people who advocate censorship against pornography are always vague about how it's going to be defined, and how innocent material is going to be excluded. They also don't seem to be keen to tell people just to set up their own filtering systems. It's always Big Brother (or should it be Big Sister?) who has to step in to save everyone. As if Big Brother is doing such a great job in any other area!

My interest is in keeping power in the hands of the individual, not government.

Snorbs Wed 22-Dec-10 17:25:10

slhilly, your point about torrents etc is well made. There are systems that can monitor those. They tend to come under the banner of Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). Most of the big advocates of DPI are the big music and movie publisers. They have already attempted, more than once, to get the UK Govt to force ISPs to install content filtering systems. Their motive is nothing to do with porn and everything to do with clamping down on filesharing.

This is not the first time that the government has tried to force all ISPs to install content filtering under one guise or another. Porn and "Save the CHILLLLLDDDRRRRUUUUNNN!!!!!??!" is just the latest excuse.

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 17:28:41

See, I'm utterly confused now Snorbs.

Leaving aside whether this is morally justifiable or technically possible, if pornography on the internet was opt-in ONLY, then I am fairly confident that this would overall reduce the amount of exposure my dc get to pornography. Because people would have to make the pro-active choice to opt-in (and pay with a credit card presumably) rather than fingers crossed hope little Sam's parents have remembered to install parental controls on their home pc.

Of course no system could be watertight or failproof. But am still unconvinced by the anti-censorship arguments. We have loads of censorship as far as our children are concerned. Good thing too.

earwicga Wed 22-Dec-10 17:29:42

'they manage not to show pornography in schools.'

'They' also manage to poorly educate our children about sex and relationships. But that's another story.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Wed 22-Dec-10 17:29:43

Just had a thought while thinking about how The Sun came out in favour of this proposal.

The big guns who make a large profit from adult content / soft porn will probably welcome this proposal. Newscorp / Richard Desmond / Playboy lobbyists will be able to lobby the government to persuade them that what they offer is erotica / adult content as opposed to porn and make an exception while at the same time putting small time content providers and adult industry businesses out of business because they don't have the same sway with government.

Pornography, like most recorded content is under real threat from piracy and amateur participants who upload content for free. This law may help the big softcore corporations guard their profit margins.

Just a thought. I haven't totally thought it through so feel free to rip apart. grin

I am also getting tired of the emotional and judgmental tone of the arguments. Masturbation is not evil. Wanting to look at naked adults is not evil. Having an interest in sex is not evil. You don't halt the 'pornification' of society by saying that all sexually explicit material is inherently misogynist and should be banned.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Wed 22-Dec-10 17:31:08

Oooh Snorbs I posted without reading your last one so we might be a bit on the same page.

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 17:33:20

So you found a porn magazine in a park? Didn't we all. That is quite simply not the same as the millions and millions of pornographic images available any time any place on the internet.

It angers me, too, whoever said it earlier.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 17:34:05

But bibbity although opting in to porn would be a better system, it is pretty much impossible to put a system into place that will allow that. Unless they also block a lot of innocent content as well.

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 17:38:40

I did say leaving aside whether it is feasible, Kaloki.

My point is simple "opting in to porn would be a better system" full stop.

"ime", I should add.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 17:41:38

>>>If you are saying that the filters on k9webprotection work, then it follows that it is technically possible for the ISPs to filter out porn.<<<

There's a world of difference from guarding one PC from porn and the hundreds of thousands each ISP would have to deal with.

Those against this are not against the principle per sé. Just that in practice its futile.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 18:29:16

By the way all of this is a bit futile anyway. Ed Vaizey has no plans to legislate, he is just facilitating 'a chat' between ISPs and anti-porn groups

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 18:57:53

The way porn is available on the internet now isn't so much like a child coming across a porn magazine in a park, but rather if they went to the library and found shelf upon shelf of hardcore porn available for them to have a look at.

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 18:59:07

Wanting to see women prostituted for anybody's viewing pleasure is evil Tondelay. Porn is not simply "naked people" - that's completely misleading.

onagar Wed 22-Dec-10 19:02:24

MN has so many threads about anal sex etc that it would certainly count as an adult site if this idea goes through. Therefore every one of you would have to phone your ISP and ask for porn to be allowed. Not just embarrassing, but then you will be unprotected again so you are back where you started.

Not that it will since here is no way (other than the white-listing method I posted about before) of doing this.

Those who think it can be done do not understand how the internet works and that includes the politicians.

You may have heard that the blocking by the IWF works, but it really doesn't. It's easy enough to check that a page is blocked at their instruction and then it would be simple enough to bypass it. If you were set up for it then you could insure it never affected you in the first place by using a VPN or any of a number of other ways. I can think of three and I'm not even a network expert.

What it does do is interfere with the normal working of the site in question so innocent users suffer.

Any filtering system would at least slow down every site access and will prevent some perfectly innocent sites from working at all.

Remember that (as others have pointed out) wikipedia was blocked by the IWF and all the perfectly legal picture, file storing and backup sites are interfered with almost continuously.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 19:12:35

"The way porn is available on the internet now isn't so much like a child coming across a porn magazine in a park, but rather if they went to the library and found shelf upon shelf of hardcore porn available for them to have a look at."

Not if you have parental controls in place it isn't.

Please tell me where you stamd on erotic literature. Do you want that blocked too?

notcitrus Wed 22-Dec-10 19:44:51

It's not that easy to find porn - I merely have Firefox set to its default settings and only once has it even flagged that relevant sites to my search were being excluded - and that was when I needed pictures of genital warts! Admittedly I don't search for images much.

I'd like to know who's pushing for this - the Tories are all 'power to parents; less big Government' in other areas, like running schools, so why the urge to even consider this as part of their remit?

SproggingMerrilyOnHigh Wed 22-Dec-10 19:49:06

Can't happen soon enough, frankly. I'm tired of being told it's my job to police every second of my children's lives so they can grow up to be productive citizens, but it's also my fault if I don't give them enough freedom to be independent, and I shouldn't expect the society we live in to support healthy parenting at all.

bibbitybobbitysantahat Wed 22-Dec-10 19:54:22

That's interesting notcitrus. What are the default settings on Firefox? Have they done your censoring for you?

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 20:57:54

Why are you asking that question Dontlet? Erotic literature is erotic literature, porn is porn. Can't you tell the difference?

PlentyOfParsnips Wed 22-Dec-10 21:14:04

A keyword filter wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Lots of people would class them as the same too. If you're going to write an algorithm to block porn you have to be able to articulate the difference very very clearly.

PlentyOfParsnips Wed 22-Dec-10 21:15:39

Unless, of course, you're happy for erotic literature to be blocked too. I think it's a very relevant question.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 21:18:37

Because Dittany, it's a perfect example of the grey area you don't think exists.

Out of pure interest, I just googled "Erotic literature". The 2nd link down (www.literotica). Is that erotica or is that porn?

I suspect the site itself, google and all the people who have helped pushed it up the search engine listings class it as "erotica" yet to me it's far from clear. Assuming you rate it as porn, do you now block the entire site or just the naughty pictures & links within it?

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 21:35:03

I'm sure when you're looking for porn to wank to on the internet niceguy, you manage to avoid the "erotic literature".

Anyhow if an erotic literature site is using porn pictures to illustrate it (can't be bothered looking, don't want to see any more porn in my life) then it's porn and it would be a site that you'd need to opt in to see. They could always take their porn pictures down and leave the "literature".

PlentyOfParsnips Wed 22-Dec-10 21:56:58

How are the filters going to know the difference, dittany?

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 22:08:06

I get really fed up with your shitty, superior and patronising tone, Dittany. It is unbelievably rude.

Yes, I am perfectly capable of identifying erotic literature. However, given that the definition of pornography is "books, magazines, films etc dealing with or depicting sexual acts" it is also clearly porn. Do you see it as being something else?

Would you allow it through the Nanny State filters or not? If not, how would you identify it as being porn rather than, say, any MN thread that "anyFucker" has posted on, given the pornographic swearword in her username? Or any of a myriad of Mumsnet threads where sexual swearwords are rife.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 22:12:18

I don't want children to see erotic literature - why would I - it is sexually explicit content?

Exactly the same as tv, films and Nuts magazine.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 22:13:27

If, for example, I wanted to type something like "you're talking out of your fucking arse" I wouldn't want to have to phone my ISP in order to do so or read the replies.

And no, I'm not a porn user. Not if we're not counting erotic literature.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 22:15:32

Neither do I LadyBlahBlha. however, I don't want to have to phone my ISP to allow me to read a large proportion of the threads on Mumsnet.

Thus, I have parental controls only children's user profile and not on mine. I am in complete personal control, not some nameless ISP.

LadyBlaBlah Wed 22-Dec-10 22:26:41

But you are not in control

And I think you really misunderstand how filtering technology works.

notcitrus Wed 22-Dec-10 22:38:05

But LadyBla - how is anyone going to define erotic text? By the use of certain words? In which case not only Mumsnet threads but online dictionaries will be excluded. By theme (assuming that could be established by software)? You'd end up blocking Mumsnet from any under-18 mothers.

Dittany appears to think only pictures are a problem (correct me if that is wrong). But which pictures? Cartoons of people having sex? Bye-bye manga and some excellent safer sex campaigns. Or only ones depicting real people? You'd end up banning people's own sites.

Most of my friends are IT geeks. They all work on the principle that if you have the internet, you can access anything. Their kids get to only access the net from home from the computer in the lounge/kitchen, with no access on their own ones until they're in their teens.

Lots of porn is distasteful - hopefully fairly-traded porn by feminist directors will gain a larger share of the market soon thanks to lower costs of net distribution, but it does have an educative function, especially when better sexual education is limited. The costs to the NHS of sexual ignorance and stigma are huge, and censorship of what young people can access is only going to make that worse.

DontLetTinselDragOnTheFloor Wed 22-Dec-10 22:45:37

No, I do not misunderstand it at all, thank you. I know how it works and, as the controls are on mycomputer, I get to adjust them and let suspect sites through if I choose. Thus. I am in control.

Yes, it lets through things it shouldn't. I block them

Yes, it blocks things it shouldn't. I put them on the safe list or do a one time "allow"

I know from another site that some people couldn't see a risqué emoticon because of their (presumably work) filters. this is the kind of grey area that would cause hassle.

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 22:57:43

I think it comes down to one simple question for those of you supporting this plan.

Do you think all born should be filtered out or just dedicated porn sites?

If the latter, then that can be done; if the former, then good luck hmm

KalokiMallow Wed 22-Dec-10 22:58:01

All born? All porn that should read.

Niceguy2 Wed 22-Dec-10 23:02:25

I don't understand Dittany why you need to be so rude? You seem to be so blinkered and angered about this subject that you are convinced I am opposing this because I have some deep vested interest in porn.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I've said from day 1 that my objections are merely because such a system cannot work and would only give a false sense of security.

From your posts, you are so blinded by your hatred of porn that you'd happily make EVERYONE in the UK hand over control of their Internet habits to some faceless government organisation and pay extra for something which doesn't work.

I suppose you also believe that we should ban all cars because kids get killed by them and knives because people get stabbed.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Wed 22-Dec-10 23:14:19

Niceguy, it's one of dittany's standard techniques; if you don't agree with her over porn it must be because you spend 24 hours a day growing hairs on the palms of your hands. If you don't agree with her about prostitution, you must be a punter.

<shrugs>

dittany Wed 22-Dec-10 23:31:05

"I get really fed up with your shitty, superior and patronising tone, Dittany. It is unbelievably rude."

Speaking of rude.....

Also right back at you with the utterly inane questions about "erotic literature". Absolutely zero to do with a discussion about porn, yet you insisted you deserve an answer. No you don't, and if you don't like the one I give you, don't bother asking any more questions like that in future.

"|However, given that the definition of pornography is "books, magazines, films etc dealing with or depicting sexual acts" it is also clearly porn."

That's your definition, it's not mine, so it's not "clearly" anything. Also if you had that statement to make why didn't you just say it instead of asking stupid questions?

Going "define porn" is the number one distraction technique for people who don't like the idea that anybody could get in the way of porn users' god-given right to access every kind of wank material at every minute of the day wherever they are. Well some of us object to this avalanche of sexual abuse and misogyny that has been falling on us for the last twenty years. Porn users are not going to get it all their own way for much longer.

JeaninePattibone Thu 23-Dec-10 00:21:50

" Porn users are not going to get it all their own way for much longer"

Don't know about that, but I'm fairly sure that mumsnet's angriest feminist isn't going to cheer up soon.

StuffingGoldBrass Thu 23-Dec-10 00:23:08

But people's right to view images and wank, and discuss and explore sex is important and is worth fighting for. As someone else said, bringing in new types of censorship will hit the ethically-made, creative, idea-exploring porn first and hardest, just like when the moronic Dworkin/Mackinnon ordnances were adopted it was the lesbian and gay organisations that the Government went after.

JeaninePattibone Thu 23-Dec-10 00:33:34

"Dworkin/Mackinnon ordnances" would those be the ones that are generally held to be unconstitutional?

I know that we don't have first amendment protection here in the UK, but the principle still stands.

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 00:43:33

sgb - that is crap

Sexual content is 'censored' all the time, the internet just needs to catch up that's all

All the porn channels on Sky are heavily regulated - if they step out of line by 'going too far', they lose their license. Everyone accepts this - people can still have a wank.

There is no need to be so dramatic about rights to wank.

It's just young people don't need to see this stuff when they are still going through puberty and unable to contextualise it all.

JeaninePattibone Thu 23-Dec-10 00:48:12

So you want to regulate the web like it were TV?

Good luck with that!

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 00:56:39

10 years ago no-one would have believed you could surf the net on your phone. 20 years ago you wouldn't have believed the internet could do what it can do now.

The technology is basically there. It's just the 'want' isn't. And that is where the misogyny comes into it.

KalokiMallow Thu 23-Dec-10 01:13:40

You cannot police the net. You can filter what makes it to your PC, but that is it.

What I really want to know, from those of you that want ISP's to filter porn, do you think all porn should be filtered out or just dedicated porn sites?

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 09:06:31

"A filter is literally a list of websites that are unsuitable according to a set of criteria. So if someone tried to access the BBC website which had some sex education information on, and couldn't, this person could contact the ISP and tell them. A human would look at the site and say "actually that site is fine, it is not adult porn humiliating women, I will take this site off the hit list". This problem would never happen again, to any other user, ever again. It's not that much of an issue for everyone."

OK so you're going for the blacklist approach, that is everything is accessible until it's blocked.

And you're also blocking individual pages within a site and not the entire site.

Do you know how many countless millions, if not billions, of URLs there are that will lead you to porn? So you want each and every one blocked? Have you considered how much that will slow down your internet access? Every single URL your browser requests, and each page will have dozens of them, will have to be compared to the list of billions of addresses.

The IWF do something very similar with the much tighter remit of child porn. And they very often get it wrong even dealing with that much smaller and more obvious target. They very famously once blocked the entirety of Wikipedia.

And then there's the issue that nothing is blocked until it's reported. Countless new URLs of porn appear on the internet every day, it's a nigh on impossible human task to keep on top of that.

And to give the final proof of how successful such a black list type of system is this is exactly what Australia has tried to do. And it's not working. Which is why SaferMedia, the right wing group who filled Claire Perry's head with nonsense and started this off, don't mention then.

Filter lists are flexible, and non static. Just because the filter might make a mistake on a website doesn't mean it will make a mistake every time - it will only make the mistake until the system has been notified and changed. And this goes both ways for letting through porn and also not giving access to non x rated sites.

There already is a system in place for age categories used for TV and film - and I don't hear many people on here saying that this is censorship and we should be able to have 18 films on the tv at 5pm. The classification of porn argument is simply an irrelevant red herring. If anyone seriously believes that content shouldn't be 'censored' for children, they are literally insane.

And this argument that supporting a proposal such as this then follows into a place where people don't support/allow sex education is ludicrous and unsubstantiated, and simply wrong.

At home personal filters are different. Many people operate them on a whitelist system, only allowing people to view pages from sites that they trust. And that's why they're more effective. And it can also operate on a user by user basis, so DC can be blocked from Wikipedia but Mum and Dad can still see it fine.

"There already is a system in place for age categories used for TV and film - and I don't hear many people on here saying that this is censorship and we should be able to have 18 films on the tv at 5pm."

And that shows one of the biggest misunderstandings about how the internet works.

We control the TV companies in this country and we can therefore have control on what content they output. If they showed something bad we wouldn't come down on Virgn or Sky for carrying the program but we'd come down hard on the BBC or ITV for showing it.

We do not control the internet sites that host porn, most of them are not in this country.

"And this argument that supporting a proposal such as this then follows into a place where people don't support/allow sex education is ludicrous and unsubstantiated, and simply wrong."

Once again the people behind this, SaferMedia, want the entire internet age rated. Not just porn, everything. It was a presentation about that that Claire Perry attended, it was after that presentation that she started talking out, it was after that that she got her meeting with the minister.

And once you agree to age rate things you will end up age rating sex education materials. And in the same way that there is pressure for people to be able to withdraw their children from sex ed classes they will demand that sex ed material is rated as adult only to give them the same choice on line.

The groups driving this are genuinely scary and fearful of knowledge.

Please do some research about how internet filtering and control works and also about the groups that are pushing for such things.

Claire Perry didn't.

Either that or she decided that her career was more important.

But then she was labelled an "incorrigible crawler" and "an appalling sycophant" by Quenten Letts, so make of her what you will.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 09:06:49

Good question Kaloki.

And if I may add another. What would constitute a "dedicated" porn site?

As I've previously mentioned, would sites such as Punternet which discusses where to find the best prostitutes but yet has no "porn" on it?

Would FHM be considered porn? I just had a quick look at the site and their Upgrade Girlfriend video looks pretty much like soft porn to me. But would that escape the ban since they also have articles about cars, gadgets & cough news?

Or am I merely just trying to justify my porn fix?

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 09:29:40

"The technology is basically there. It's just the 'want' isn't. And that is where the misogyny comes into it."

No the technology is not basically there.

Before you say that it is please go and read up on China who have perhaps the most extensive internet censorship capabilities.

The initial work on their great firewall, remember this isn't to complete or run it, cost over £500 million.

A report in 2007 estimated that over half the web sites that allow interactive content (blog sites of Wikipedia for example) are just completely blocked blocked because the Government cannot keep on top of the flood of new content.

And despite all of this what they view as "bad" content still creeps through and given how the internet works there are things that they just can't stop.

So what they then have to do is to put software on every PC sold in China to do more filtering and blocking at the local end.

And this, rather, than Australia is the example that the people pushing for censorship here are citing.

The technology is most definitely not there.

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 09:42:27

Trying to frame this debate as one of porn users insisting on being able to access porn whenever and wherever they want is missing the point very badly.

This proposal would do nothing to stop adults wanting to access porn from accessing porn as they could just opt out of the filtering.

What it would do is require all ISPs to install powerful content-filtering systems on their connections. Today they're talking about using them to "save the chillddrunn!!!" from porn. A couple of years ago the government were talking about mandating the use of such systems to block copyright theft. On other occasions the government were talking about mandating the use of such systems to block access to "terrorist training material".

This is about mandatory filtering. Blocking access to porn for children is just the latest smokescreen for that. And it's obvious it is a smokescreen because the ISP-level filtering approach is a very poor one for achieving what they claim they want to achieve.

Once the kit's in place then I guarantee you the list of stuff that will be filtered out will increase over time. And much of it will not be an opt-out thing. Do you really think the government would have allowed access to wikileak's material if they had the capability to stop you?

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 10:02:56

That's just a personal attack Jeanine, can't you do better than that? At least my anger is clearly on show rather than hidden in snide digs.

Also there's a good reason to be angry at women being abused on film for mainly men's pleasure. It's not on.

As they say, if you aren't angry you aren't paying attention. Why aren't you angry at the vicious pornography that is available in virtually every house in the land, that children are seeing regularly because of mobile phone and internet technology.

Are you really not bothered? Why?

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 10:21:35

"the people pushing for censorship"

This isn't censorship, the content will be available for anybody who wants it.

If you're going to twist the truth it's not possible to have a real conversation.

StuffingGoldBrass Thu 23-Dec-10 10:27:50

The IWF are another bunch of meddling fuckwits without a clue: unelected, unaccountable, screamingly self-righteous and thoroughly dubious.

PlentyOfParsnips Thu 23-Dec-10 10:28:19

'Also right back at you with the utterly inane questions about "erotic literature". Absolutely zero to do with a discussion about porn, yet you insisted you deserve an answer. No you don't, and if you don't like the one I give you, don't bother asking any more questions like that in future.'

Shall I put you down as a 'don't know', then dittany ? grin

Just for the sake of argument, let's pretend we all agree with your definition of porn (whatever the hell that is) and let's also pretend that we all agree that such material should be blocked by ISPs ... how are we going to do it ? How on earth do you write filters that can tell the difference between a pornographic image and any other image? How do you write a filter that understands the difference between 'cunt' as it's used on MN and 'cunt' as used in a pornographic context? How do you codify political and historical context? How do you make a machine understand art or education, misogyny or sexual abuse?

However 'inane' you find these questions of definition, however much you think they're a 'distraction technique', you'll get absolutely nowhere without tackling them. A computer programme won't 'know it when it sees it', neither can you write a 'down with this sort of thing' algorithm.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 10:38:32

Parsnip, internet filters already exist for individual machines and on google which filters out pornographic content if you ask it to. I don't know why you're pretending this is so difficult, as it obviously isn't. I'm not a computer programmer, but computer programmers can write programmes for all sorts of things, so I'm sure they can come up with a programme that filters out porn.

Also, are you Don'tlet, and posting under two names, because that post was directed at her not you.

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 10:40:49

Dittany, I am bothered that children are seeing pornography online. It bothers me enough that I make sure my children can't by using a combination of local filtering (which will inevitably be more effective, flexible and accountable than ISP-level filtering) and parental supervision.

But, again, attempting to frame this debate as one of slavering porn hounds versus anti-porn activists is both needlessly and inaccurately offensive while also massively missing the point of what this proposal is all about.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 10:43:43

So do you not use porn then Snorbs. Good for you.

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 10:48:26

Ooh, cross-posted. Dittany, the difference between ISP-level filtering and local machine level filtering has been discussed quite a lot here. If you really don't understand the difference then that's fine as some of it is quite esoteric.

But it does make you look ever so slightly foolish to then go on to claim that it's a Simple Matter of Programming when actually it's a lot more complex than that. Particularly when there are people here with direct experience of managing the technologies involved who are trying to explain why it's a lot more complex than that.

Discussions about how best to deal with Internet porn is not a new thing by any degree. It's been a matter of hot debate within the networking community for at least a decade. And all the attempts to have ISP-level filtering to date have had massive flaws and significantly failed to work as advertised.

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 10:48:56

No I don't use porn. I mentioned that in the very first post I made in this thread.

Astrophe Thu 23-Dec-10 10:57:41

I don't know nearly enough about the technicalities of the internet to comment on whether something like this is viable (although if it were, I would support it), BUT I have to stringly disagree and beg those of you who have used the arguement that "parents should just keep an eye on their children" to think more carefully about that.

Because the issue is NOT simply one of protecting one's own children. This goes for the issues the Mumsnet 'Let girls be girls' campaign is tackling as well. Its all very well to say "don't buy sluttly clothes for your own daughter", or "make sure you watch your kids whilst they are online", but the fact remains that there are many, many parents who are too ill informed/lazy/busy/whatever to protect their kids.

IF you believe its not healthy for children to view internet porn, then you need to believe that its not healthy for any children - not your own, and not those unfortunate kids who's parents wont take steps to protect them.

Ebven if you don't personally have any empathy for these children, you should care that your own children are growing up with them.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 10:58:57

I didn't say it was simple, I said it was possible.

So what if it's complex. The whole of IT and the internet is complex, complexity is what people in the industry deal with all the time. To suddenly start shouting out "ooh, this is far too complicated" just sounds disingenuous.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 11:01:40

I mean if they try to do it and fail at least they've tried. But they should try.

Do you really think they shouldn't try Snorbs? Why should porn be so freely available when we know that that means that under-18s (the youngest I heard on Mumsnet was an 8 year old looking at it) will have access to it. Why aren't we thinking of putting limits on this. In all other forms of media e.g. magazines, TV, film, pornography is limited, yet the internet is some kind of special case where porn must be freely available or people start squealing "censorship".

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 11:10:05

Dittany? Have you ever even used local site filtering like the K9 I've referred to?

It's a bit of a pain. Quite regularly it will block genuine sites and trust me I quickly grew tired of constantly having to unblock sites such as Youtube, Yahoo for having "adult content". In the end I had to open up the filter way more than I'd like to. That was an informed choice however I made as a concerned parent.

@Astrophe - the problem with your point that "...many parents who are too ill informed/lazy/busy/whatever to protect their kids.", is that those are the very people who either education will work with....or they don't care enough in the first place so they'd probably just remove the porn block without caring their child could see. You are in effect back to square one but have a rather expensive white elephant in the room giving you a complete false sense of security.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 11:12:11

@Dittany. I don't see what's so hard about being responsible for your own computer and what it's used for? Right now my 9yr old son is sat behind me, in the same room with the computer. Even my DD(14) is generally not allowed to surf in her bedroom (although I do allow it and unbeknown to her, I have monitoring software on it).

I don't have to sit there every minute, i just keep my eyes open and use common sense.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Thu 23-Dec-10 11:16:26

Dittany out of interest is there filmed representation of sex that you would NOT define as porn. What if feminists produced their own filmed erotic content would that be porn? Genuinely interested here.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Thu 23-Dec-10 11:19:45

Apostrophe
"IF you believe its not healthy for children to view internet porn, then you need to believe that its not healthy for any children - not your own, and not those unfortunate kids who's parents wont take steps to protect them."

Is it the job of the ISP provider to protect the children whose parents expose them (in an actively or passively abusive context) to porn? Or is it the job of children's services, social services, the local authority and the police and the wider community? And how will this protect children whose parents opt-in?

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 11:28:19

Dittany, you seem to be labouring under the misapprehension that ISP-level filtering as proposed is the only way to block porn. It's not. It's not the most effective, reliable, flexible or cheapest either. I wouldn't necessarily say it's the worst way (automated image matching is even less reliable) but it's getting there.

But if people want ISP-level filtering they can have it as some ISPs already offer it. It doesn't work very well, of course, but people could opt-in today if they were that bothered.

"a rather expensive white elephant" sums it up perfectly, NiceGuy.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 11:42:40

I'm not labouring under any misapprehension, Snorbs.

This idea that because I support the measure that people have to opt into porn rather than it being completely freely available, means I have to have every technical answer about how it should be done, and if I don't my position is unsupportable is illogical. Technical people can solve these problems. Are you really telling me they can't? The point I was making was that the people claiming that this "simply isn't possible" already have examples of the technology at the individual and at the search engine level. Google can block porn sites on its search results if you ask it too.

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 11:43:41

People who work in IT often have to say "Actually, this idea is too complex/flawed/expensive to be achievable." Sadly we're rarely believed by politicians (or a lot of corporate senior management) but are nevertheless often proven right.

Particularly in situations such as this where huge amounts of time, money and brain-power have been thrown at this problem with the result demonstrated time and again that ISP-level porn filtering simply doesn't work very well.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 11:45:11

Are you taking up where DontLet took off, Tondelay.

Don't be disingenuous. You know what porn is, I know what porn is, porn users know what porn is. I've noted before that it's only when discussions about combatting porn come up that suddenly people become very stupid about what it might be and try and keep the topic of actual porn and into a whole lot of hypotheticals.

Porn users know what to look for to wank to. Adult Video News knows what to review. It's not that difficult.

slhilly Thu 23-Dec-10 11:47:17

Dittany, this: "I didn't say it was simple, I said it was possible" is just wrong, if what you want is a ISP-side filter that reliably stops children accessing porn on the internet. It is not possible to do that yet.

What is possible, is to create an ISP-side filter that reliably reduces the amount of porn children can access, a la Google SafeSearch. However, that merely cuts the accessible porn down from gigantic quantities to huge quantities. It does not materially restrict children's access to porn via the internet. For example, it cannot do anything about torrents, nor user-generated porn (eg kids showing each other their genitals via webcams, and being recorded without consent and reposted). It's the equivalent of security theatre at airports -- we might feel safer but we are not in fact safer.

You think people are being disingenuous and are saying this is "too complicated". They're not -- they're saying this is "impossible". Techie types say this to clients all the time! They often get the same response from the clients as you and Lady BlaBlah are giving too, tbh: "Whaddya mean, it's impossible? Technology is advanced, everything's possible nowadays etc etc". If only everything were possible. The other piece of bad news is that tech advances are as likely to benefit porn merchants and porn users as they are the filterers.

On another note, one thing I'm surprised hasn't happened is malware written by anti-porn feminists targeting porn users and websites. It would be illegal, but then that's not stop malware authors to date.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 11:47:26

Something not working very well doesn't mean it shouldn't be used at all.

Porn defenders always seem to be about perfection - the definition of porn must be perfect (when no-one demands that of any other material), the filtering software must be perfect. Otherwise we have to leave things exactly as they are.

Do you know how you perfect things in IT - you keep producing new versions of it until you solve the problems. Isn't that how software development works?

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 11:51:10

"This isn't censorship, the content will be available for anybody who wants it.

If you're going to twist the truth it's not possible to have a real conversation."

The people pushing for this, the people who brief Claire Perry before she launched her campaign, MediaWatch, do believe in censorship and want more of it.

They've complained to number 10 before that "the BBFC (funded by the film industry) no longer believes in censorship but in giving adults guidance so they may decide what they want to watch."

So yes it is very right to mention censorship with regards to what people have in mind and where they want it to go. MediaWatch are an unpleasant organisation who believe the sex education is wrong, homosexuality is an abomination, censorship is good, guidance is bad and Steven Seagal is an influential actor. You have got to look behind the scenes and see who's pushing for what.

"I mean if they try to do it and fail at least they've tried. But they should try."

They should try even if it costs millions, prices people off of the internet, will slow the internet down, won't protect children, will block legitimate web sites and will still leave parents at home to do the final job of making sure their children are safe.

Why not just spend the money educating people? Even with this system in place, as said above, parents will still have to take steps to protect their children. So all the other stuff is, in the end, a pointless waste of money. Direct the money to where it can make a difference rather than to something that will put a lot of money in the pockets of various IT people (one of which could be me) and yet won't do the job.

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 11:52:52

Yes, Google can block porn sites. That's not the same as blocking porn as a lot of porn appears on sites other than the big porn ones. Google can also block porn images on image searches. But reportedly with a lot of false-positives (ie, it doesn't show you a lot of images that are actually ok) and a fair number of false-negatives, too.

But can I just point out one rather important thing? Google isn't an ISP. The way that Google gathers, stores and delivers search results is staggeringly different to the way an ISP-level content filter needs to work.

I've used big Internet content filtering systems in a corporate environment. Exactly the kind of systems that this proposal is calling for. I know how inaccurate, expensive, flawed, slow and labour-intensive they are. I'm not just talking out of my hat here.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 11:53:30

Well it would be difficult to get the IT industry to get behind this considering it is notoriously misogynist.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 11:54:09

"Something not working very well doesn't mean it shouldn't be used at all."

See my point above, in the end this won't do the job and parents at home will still be left to do the final job of making sure their children are safe.

Why waste money on an expensive white elephant that will never be able to do what people hope it can.

"Do you know how you perfect things in IT - you keep producing new versions of it until you solve the problems. Isn't that how software development works?"

There are limits, some things just will never work, and this is one of them.

Even the Chinese who are willing to throw a ridiculous level of resources at this and have no problem with trampling civil rights have had to accept that ISP level filtering is not the final answer and they have to put something on each individual computer.

dittany, you have far too much faith in what programmers can acheive with this. Snorbs is absolutely right wrt politicians and the like demanding complex solutions that techies just cannot deliver. It happens all the bloody time. There have been a few very successful Government IT programmes (although you rarely hear about them). There have been many more collossal disasters.

My (limited) knowledge of coding suggests to me that in order for this to work, developers are going to have to come up with something akin to proper AI. We (or they rather) are nowhere near the point where this is acheivable.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 11:56:09

Look Snorbs, IT has been clunky right from the beginning, but millions of developer hours improved it.

All IT development is expensive and labour intensive. It's whether or not you are committed to investing in the project or not.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 11:56:18

"Well it would be difficult to get the IT industry to get behind this considering it is notoriously misogynist."

So if the only people who really know about this tell you that this is impossible they should be ignored because they "misogynist"?

So the only arguments you'll listen to and accept are from outside the IT industry? From people who don't know what's possible and what isn't?

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 11:57:53

This is not a government IT project. It would be ISPs who would have to block the porn sites. It would be a commercial project.

Astrophe Thu 23-Dec-10 11:58:16

niceguy and tondeleyo - I'm not really interesting in debating the pros and cons of this particular proposal - as I said, I don't know enough about it, or about technology in general.

It is the government's responsibility to protect children - yes, through social services etc, but also through legislation, and if such a legislation as is proposed would be workable (and I'm not saying it is or isn't), then yes, the government is responsible for making it happen.

Of course there would be parents who would switch the function off, therby exposing their kids to unsuitable content. And if that was going to happen in a majority of cases, then yes, we should invert time and money thinking of another system which will work better. But simply throwing up our hands and saying "we can't fix everything so we wont fix anything" isn't the answer either.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 12:00:05

Exactly apostrophe.

Time for the IT industry to take some responsibility. After all they didn't have a problem in developing the technology to distribute pornography over the internet.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 12:00:55

"All IT development is expensive and labour intensive. It's whether or not you are committed to investing in the project or not."

As said above China are committed both politically and financially to controlling the internet. They spent over £500 million just kicking the project off. There are 19.2 million households in the UK with the internet, so that's £30 per household just to make a start yet alone finish and manage the system.

And they can't make it work.

They've had to admit that it will never work and have to put software on individual computers instead.

And it still doesn't work completely.

If they can't do it with their knowledge, money, resources, determination and lack of respect for freedom do you think that we can?

StuffingGoldBrass Thu 23-Dec-10 12:02:55

The thing is, a child or young person who is being brought up by sensible parents to have a reasonably healthy attitude towards sex and human relationships will not be harmed by a glimpse or two of porn. A child being brought up by people who have a dysfunctonal attitude towards sex might actually benefit from seeing some porn at least in realising that his/her partners warped attitudes are not universal.
There are plenty of things that young people and children might see (on line or elsewhere) that can cause them distress: news reports on particularly upsetting incidents - the witless overbombing coverage of Madeleine McCann being an excellent example of this; immense distress was caused to a lot of children who saw this coverage and began to be afraid that they, too, would be snatched from their beds at night - but encouraging the Government to introduce more censorship is never a good idea.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 12:03:08

"Time for the IT industry to take some responsibility. After all they didn't have a problem in developing the technology to distribute pornography over the internet."

No we developed the technology to have a computer network that survives a nuclear war.

It was never meant to be about central control, it was meant to be survivable and flexible.

And that, in part, is why it's now so hard to govern. It's meant to live with it's head chopped off.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 12:04:53

>>>It is the government's responsibility to protect children <<<

No it's NOT! It's MY job as a responsible parent. I merely want the government to help. Sometimes the best way to help is to leave me alone to get on with it.

slhilly Thu 23-Dec-10 12:05:58

Something not working very well doesn't automatically mean it shouldn't be used at all, but it might mean that it shouldn't be used at all. I wouldn't be keen on getting on a plane that didn't work very well. It depends, per my example, on how important the function is, and how bad the downsides of not working well are.

For sure IT improves over time. And SafeSearch has done just that, it has far fewer false negatives and positives than when it launched back in 2000. But -- it's for a specific use-case -- search results. It would require tech that has not been invented to deal with webcams, torrents, private networks such as Facebooks etc.

This is not about perfection -- it's about saying that there's no benefit in kids having access to "only" 20bn porn images instead of 200bn images. Even though the filter's kept out 90% of the stuff you don't want them seeing, what's left is just mindboggling in quantity.

And there are significant downsides, which you may be willing to put up with b/c the cost-benefit tradeoff seems right to you, but which a large fraction of the population is not. These include the immense cost, the slowdown of access, the risk of mission creep from porn out to other topics, and the unintended blocking of all sorts of non-porn materials that then must be laboriously unblocked by hand. The problem is the scale of the content -- there are hundreds of thousands of sites with sexually explicit but not pornographic material on the internet, eg sex ed / sexual health sites, art sites etc.

By the way, I don't know that people who think this particular proposal is rubbish are content to leave things exactly as they are. For example, I've mentioned malware above, and I was quite a fan of the idea of a xxx top-level domain, as a large fraction of porn merchants would have voluntarily migrated.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 12:06:52

Yes, I think you just need someone/a group of people who is/are committed to solving the problem.

Would any of the naysayers here like to actually see this problem solved i.e. in an ideal world do you think it would be a good idea that people would have to opt into porn on the internet rather than it being freely available? Do you agree with the hypothetical idea at least BadgersPaws, even if you don't think it's technically possible. Same question to you Snorbs. Do you think that it's a good idea in principle, if not in practice?

£30 per household, when households buy internet services that cost £30 per month or more is not actually that much. People are happy to spend huge amounts on IT kit, software and internet connections, so why not a proper tax on the internet, that protects children.

I don't think anyone's saying "we can't fix everything so we wont fix anything", Apostrophe.

People have already stated that there are ways to filter this stuff - but it has to be managed at a micro level. This works. Doing it in the way China have tried, doesn't.

x-post slhilly yy wrt mission creep. I agree, a xxx domain would be a very good idea. Has that idea been dropped now?

yy wrt mission creep. And I agree, a xxx domain would be a very good idea.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 12:13:12

"Yes, I think you just need someone/a group of people who is/are committed to solving the problem."

China are committed to censoring the internet, they can't do it.

The US Government are committed to censoring WikiLeaks, they can't do it.

The entertainment industry is committed to ending illegal file sharing, they can't do it.

This is nothing about commitment.

"Do you agree with the hypothetical idea at least BadgersPaws, even if you don't think it's technically possible."

If there was some way to guarantee that my children did not see porn and it had no down side then I would be up for it.

But there's not, and given the current technology there never will be, China proves this, you just can't do it.

So rather than chase the impossible I'd rather do what we can to make the internet safer, and that is about educating people, that will help, that will make a difference and that will protect my children.

"£30 per household, when households buy internet services that cost £30 per month or more is not actually that much."

That's just to kick it off, not to finish it. Heaven only knows what the final costs are. But that's my point, to which you haven't really responded, you cannot doubt the Chinese commitment to this and yet they cannot do it.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 12:16:14

"I agree, a xxx domain would be a very good idea. Has that idea been dropped now?"

It's a brilliant idea, a very easy way to block access to those sites.

Get the latest here:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/12/10/xxx_domain objectedto_by_governments/

In short various Governments keep blocking it as they think it will encourage porn.

The adult industry also has it's reservations as they think it will make censorship easier.

So it's a way away yet...

slhilly Thu 23-Dec-10 12:17:24

Dittany, lots of things in IT are just too hard. Whether commercial or not, IT projects fail all the time. Look at the National Programme for IT (the NHS computerisation). There were more than "just a group of people who are committed to solving the problem" there -- individuals, tiny companies, huge companies, enormous conglomerates all tried to make various bits of it worked, and they've all come unstuck. Why? Because the solution they were trying to deliver is one that is technically extremely challenging, but the customer wasn't willing to listen.

I understand you might be dubious about whether this is really about "will" but it's not. It's not even about "skill". It's about what is technically possible.

PlentyOfParsnips Thu 23-Dec-10 12:18:38

'Also, are you Don'tlet, and posting under two names, because that post was directed at her not you.'

No, I'm not Don'tlet but you were ignoring my questions so I thought I'd just jump in. It's a public conversation.

dittany Thu 23-Dec-10 12:53:25

'No we developed the technology to have a computer network that survives a nuclear war."

Oh I think there was a bit more development after its creation don't you. It didn't arrive fully formed.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 13:07:03

"Oh I think there was a bit more development after its creation don't you. It didn't arrive fully formed."

Of course there was.

But the thing that makes it hard to control and regulate goes right the way back to the very beginning in the 60s.

Different things have then come along that ride on the back of those basic principles but the heart and bones of it are the same.

So by trying to bring in control you're trying to overcome something that's right at the very heart of how it all operates, and that's why it's destined to fail.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 13:22:28

This whole "debate" reminds me of what I face on a day to day basis.

Dittany's stance is like my managers. "But surely something can be done..... and something is better than nothing!"

and IT's response is "erm...yeah we can do SOMETHING....but it'll cost a fortune and not really gonna work....here is a list of reasons why."

"But but...think of the childreennnnn!!! Surely something can be done.....something's better than nothing!"

Just because you can....doesn't always mean you should.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 13:27:19

Oh and whilst we're at it, IF this ever became a real plan, you'll find no end of IT companies like mine rushing to provide a "solution".

Why when we are saying we can't do it? Because the salesmen & exec's all get HUGE bonuses. They'll have made millions by the time the govt finally realise they've bought an absolute dodo but by then all they can do is throw more money at it or face embarassment in public. This happened for the CSA system, court system & NHS project (which I consulted on).

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 13:28:05

The .xxx domain has been muted for years, and certainly would assist - so, already you see there is a technical solution after all. I realise still not 100%, but then what is?

This is ultimately I think about an argument to protect the perceived freedom on the Internet and the 'interfering of governments' in our lives. It is nothing to do with the technical issues, it is technically possible - maybe not commercially viable, but possible (with the caveat again that it is not 100% protection)

The China issue is a total red herring again - they are BLOCKING permanently a lot of different content over a lot of criteria, not just porn, and there is no opt in option. It is a totally different system to what is being discussed here.

On the categorisation thing, there are already companies doing this and have been for over 10 years - they have techniques and technology to be able to assess and categorise over 90 million websites at the moment. Again I know they do not claim to offer 100% protection but this is also about collective response. To give you an idea of their categories, here is some detail:

Adult Material
Parent category that contains the categories:

* Adult Content - Sites that display full or partial nudity in a sexual context, but not sexual activity; erotica; sexual paraphernalia; sex-oriented businesses as clubs, nightclubs, escort services; and sites supporting the online purchase of such goods and services.

* Lingerie and Swimsuit - Sites that offer images of models in suggestive but not lewd costume, with semi nudity permitted. Includes classic 'cheese-cake,' calendar, and pinup art and photography. Includes also sites offering lingerie or swimwear for sale.

* Nudity - Sites that offer depictions of nude or seminude human forms, singly or in groups, not overtly sexual in intent or effect.

* Sex - Sites that depict or graphically describe sexual acts or activity, including exhibitionism; also, sites offering direct links to such sites.

* Sex Education - Sites that offer information about sex and sexuality, with no pornographic intent.

Every large organisation in the UK filters what is available to staff members - what for? Their protection? As adults?

I see no reason why we should not afford the same protection to children. There are some things that are in our collective best interests.

I will say that this proposal may not be the best proposal there is to afford some protection to children, but I don't see anything else on the horizon and I for one am pleased it is being discussed.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 13:39:22

"The China issue is a total red herring again - they are BLOCKING permanently a lot of different content over a lot of criteria, not just porn, and there is no opt in option. It is a totally different system to what is being discussed here."

China is not a red herring, it's a centrally maintained blocking of internet content, this is exactly what is being proposed here without an opt in/out option. Other than that switch technically behind the scenes it works how any system here would be needed to work.

In fact China is so absolutely relevant that MediaWatch (who egged on Claire Perry, who egged on the Minister) cite it as an example of how internet censorship can work.

And once again they can't do it.

Even with the legal right to just block entire web sites they can't do it.

They've even had to admit that they can't filter centrally at the ISP and have to put software on each and every computer.

"Every large organisation in the UK filters what is available to staff members - what for? Their protection? As adults?"

And that doesn't work very well either.

Lots of genuine content is blocked.

Lots of bad content gets through.

And each company has the ability to decide how strict they want to be and fine tune their filters to an enormous degree.

A solution at the ISP level would not have such flexibility.

"I will say that this proposal may not be the best proposal there is to afford some protection to children, but I don't see anything else on the horizon and I for one am pleased it is being discussed."

It is just not a good proposal.

It won't work, it will be expensive and parents will still have to control the computers at home.

And if you're not saving parents from having to do that then why bother? Why not just educate the parents so that can do the blocking effectively?

Maybe I should be backing a scheme that would put a pretty much endless pool of money into the hands of the IT industry as they are paid to chase the impossible.

But my interest here is the safety of children. And this proposal will not only fail to do that but it will make the situation worse as people think the problem has been dealt with.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 13:40:01

LadyBlah, no-ones arguing about if its possible to block. Plainly it is. But the issue is around if it is good enough.

At work we deploy these blocking categories. We also actively block all other traffic except web and other authorised applications. In other words we only allow http traffic which we then filter.

THIS IS NOT POSSIBLE FOR THE ISP WHOSE BUSINESS IS TO PROVIDE THE CIRCUIT!

The closest analogy I can think of is to ask BT to give you a phone line then using technology to filter all swearing in case children swear. They would then have to deploy technology not only to monitor English swearwords but every other language too. And that's before we argue about what is a swearword and what if someone changes the word from say fuck to frack.

I really don't see why we need a big brother system which every techie will happily tell you won't work when there are better FREE alternatives around which YOU the parent can control?

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 13:55:27

"I really don't see why we need a big brother system which every techie will happily tell you won't work when there are better FREE alternatives around which YOU the parent can control?"

And China with all it's willpower, resources and lack of respect for freedom have had to concede that putting that software on the actual computer is something that you have to do if you're going to be at all effective.

So skip the wasteful, impractical and unreliable blocking at ISP level and tackle the problem at that level.

Setting up a technical panel that would review, rip apart and issue guidance on how to use all the filtering software that is available to parents would be something that would genuinely make our children safer.

Of course there won't be a massive gravy train of public money slooshing around for various people to get their hands on but the children will actually be safer, and that has got to surely be the point.

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 14:19:37

Your analogy is useless.

You constantly try and divert this discussion with useless comparisons. You now say it is possible to block, as I have been saying all along, but badgers still insists you can't.

With regards to you saying (in capitals) that it is not possible for the ISP to filter traffic, well that is not true either. There again is technology to be able to do this (as you are) - the product I cut and pasted information on before can filter more than 100 protocols in 15 categories. And you could do this at ISP level - and yes, those that provide the circuit. Please note that 90% of UK content comes from 5 tier 1 providers.

On the note above from SGB about it not mattering if a child sees a bit of hardcore porn so long as they are from a loving background, well I would like to disagree with that. The harm done by hardcore violent pornography is progressive and sometimes addictive.

Studies are virtually unanimous in their conclusions: When male subjects were exposed to as little as six weeks' worth of standard hard-core pornography, they:

* developed an increased sexual callousness toward women

* began to trivialize rape as a criminal offense or no longer considered it a crime at all

* developed distorted perceptions about sexuality

* developed an appetite for more deviant, bizarre, or violent types of pornography (normal sex no longer seemed to do the job)

* devalued the importance of monogamy and lacked confidence in marriage as either a viable or lasting institution

* viewed nonmonogamous relationships as normal and natural behavior

And it doesn't matter what background you come from.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 23-Dec-10 14:22:45

Which study was that, LadyBlaBlah? Have you a link?

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 14:23:51

It is the point to make children safer, yes badgers, although I would question some of the comments on here as to whether they wanted to make children safer

The problem with this "it's the parents fault" argument is that the parent cannot feasibly do all of this on their own - even you, who work in IT are saying that you get 'stuff' through that shouldn't be coming through. The ISPs cannot be simply "connectivity providers", that is wussing out. They all host masses and masses of porn (there may be one exception to that that I know of) in their deepest darkest vaults, and they need to have some responsibility for it.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Thu 23-Dec-10 14:28:39

@Dittany. "You know what porn is, I know what porn is, porn users know what porn is."

That's not the question I asked.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 14:29:38

"You now say it is possible to block, as I have been saying all along, but badgers still insists you can't."

I've been saying that it's not possible to block reliably or completely. Any blocking will many false positives (things you don't want blocked but are) and many failures (things you do want blocked but aren't).

That is exactly what China has discovered, and that's why they've had to go for mandatory filtering at the computer side.

I will however not disagree about the harm pornography can cause to children.

It's just that I reached the same conclusion as China did without having to spend a huge amount of money and years trying another approach. Successful filtering and protection has got to be done at the level of the individual computer.

Anything else just gives a false sense of security and is about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

The article about the xxx domain idea is interesting - and a bit depressing tbh.

WRT to it being a technical fix - I don't actually think is is technical. It's a sensible approach to a problem technology has facilitated. It's also a simple idea - like most of the best ideas are.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 14:33:58

It's not a useless analogy, you just lack the understanding of what an ISP does.

Yes its possible to block. But in doing so will have BIG unintentional sideeffects, won't really work and as I said before, it becomes a big white elephant giving you a false sense of security.

I at home using software can choose to block what I want. You can choose to block what YOU want. Everyone is happy. What's wrong with that?

An ISP level block would be full of holes and must be more restrictive.

At work, we obviously block porn. BUT we've also had to block lots of other protocols and categories too. So for example, we've had to block proxy sites such as www.the-cloak.com which has nothing to do with porn but its the only way we can stop users from simply bypassing our controls.

What ISP blocking in effect does is completely remove the principle that they are "mere conduit" providers. This is an important principle, recognised in law. Without this, you will find that Google, Youtube, hell even my analogy BT cannot exist.

Why must we have govt controls? Why can't we make our own decisions?

TeiTetua Thu 23-Dec-10 14:38:07

I can't help feeling that there are a lot of people who want Big Brother to run their lives, as long as everyone else gets the same treatment. So let's have unworkable centralized Internet censorship that we can complain about (or would complaints also be censored?) and nobody has to take responsibility for what comes into their own house, or what their children do outside it.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 14:40:25

"The problem with this "it's the parents fault" argument is that the parent cannot feasibly do all of this on their own - even you, who work in IT are saying that you get 'stuff' through that shouldn't be coming through."

It's not about "fault", it's just about saying where the only really effective level of protection can be put, and that's right on each computer.

And yes I admit that is tricky. So rather than waste an enormous amount of money to put in place a system that will still leave parents having to protect their children spend that money educating the parents to help them out.

I'm lucky, I know what to do, but so many people don't. We can fix that, we can do something, we can protect children.

"The ISPs cannot be simply "connectivity providers", that is wussing out."

No it's not, it's accepting how the internet works. And the moment people start encrypting their network traffic there is absolutely nothing that the ISP can possibly do.

Again China took the mindset that the ISPs are not just connectivity providers, they failed. And believe me China tried really hard to make it work, this isn't about technical ability or will power.

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 14:43:50

There are quite a few references - here is one you can use for other references too:

The role of pornography in the etiology of sexual aggression

Michael C. Seto, Alexandra Maric and Howard E. Barbaree

Aggression and Violent Behavior
Volume 6, Issue 1, January-February 2001, Pages 35-53

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 23-Dec-10 14:53:23

LadyBlaBlah, thank you. Any hint as to where a rural-living Scot might get her hands on that?

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 14:55:02

"It's not a useless analogy, you just lack the understanding of what an ISP does.

Yes its possible to block. But in doing so will have BIG unintentional sideeffects, won't really work and as I said before, it becomes a big white elephant giving you a false sense of security.'

I know exactly what an ISP does and I also understand their motives for not wanting to get involved in this debate and I don't happen to agree with them because there are some things we have to collectively take responsibility for. And ultimately that is what this debate is about - individualism vs collectivism. If you hadn't guessed, in this case my view is we are collectively responsible for protecting our children from this stuff, and that includes ISPs ( who are NOT simply connectivity providers - you may only buy connectivity from your ISP, but they will also, somewhere along the line, be providing content) Your analogy remains useless.

The BIG unintentional side effects are thus governmental control. Well, I like the government to take responsibility for some things, yes. It is not about blame it is about doing it in the best way and in this case regulation with the ISPs (not necessarily with the opt in scheme) alongside education of parents is the way I would prefer.

There already is a white elephant of safety with the personal filters - most people I know have installed very basic versions and never looked at them since. So that already exists.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 23-Dec-10 14:55:12

OK, I've found something online, thanks again.

TondelayoSchwarzkopf Thu 23-Dec-10 14:56:42

Abstract of 'The role of pornography in the etiology of sexual aggression'

"From the existing evidence, we argue that individuals who are already predisposed to sexually offend are the most likely to show an effect of pornography exposure and are the most likely to show the strongest effects. Men who are not predisposed are unlikely to show an effect; if there actually is an effect, it is likely to be transient because these men would not normally seek violent pornography."

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 15:05:21

Just to clarify what the abstract means by that sentence - a C & P from that article:

<<
Effects on attitudes, beliefs, and cognitions

In their meta-analysis of 24 studies with a total of 4,268 participants, M. Allen, Emmers, Gebhardt, and Giery (1995) concluded that nonexperimental studies (i.e., studies in which participants are questioned about their previous exposure to sexually explicit material and their endorsement of rape myths) showed almost no relationship, while experimental studies (i.e., participants exposed to sexually explicit materials and then asked about their endorsement of rape myths) showed a small positive effect. Specifically, the meta-analysis showed that exposure to previous pornography, with or without depictions of violence, increased acceptance of rape myths.

However, these findings need to be qualified by the critical issue of whether attitudes, beliefs, or cognitions are good proxy measures of sexual aggression. Although some models suggest antisocial and anti-women attitudes, beliefs, and cognitions play an important role in sexual aggression, they also recognize that other factors are required (Malamuth, Heavey, & Linz, 1993). For example, Demaré, Lips, and Briere (1993) surveyed 383 males using measures of anti-women attitudes, previous pornography use, likelihood of sexual aggression, and actual sexual aggression. The measure of sexual aggression included items regarding verbal coercion (lying, persistent arguments) and a potentially ambiguous item about “getting carried away” during sexual activity. In this sample, 86% of the participants had previously used nonviolent pornography, 36% had viewed pornography that depicted forced sexual acts on women, and 25% had viewed pornography depicting rape. Moreover, 16% of the men had been coercive and 12% had previously used force to obtain sex (including the ambiguous item). Demaré et al. found that self-reported likelihood of raping was not related to actual behavior. An obvious potential problem with using self-reported likelihood of using force or committing rape is report bias. Other studies find that negative attitudes toward women do not distinguish rapists from non-sex offenders (Marolla and Scott, R.L. and Tetreault, L.A., 1987. Attitudes of rapists and other violent offenders toward women. Journal of Social Psychology 127, pp. 375–380. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (10)Scott).
Effects on aggression

In another meta-analysis conducted by Allen and his colleagues on 33 experimental studies, representing a total of 2,040 participants, pornographynext was associated with a small increase in nonsexual aggression (M. Allen et al., 1995a). Overall, depictions of nudity alone decreased subsequent aggressive behavior, while nonviolent and violent pornography increased aggressive behavior. Allen et al. reviewed the studies in terms of their implications for predictions informed by excitation transfer versus social learning theory. Only studies that provoked participants (made them angry) demonstrated an effect on aggressive behavior, consistent with excitation transfer theory, while nonviolent pornography also had an effect, inconsistent with social learning theory. Anger did not have an effect when only nudes were presented. In other words, there was an interaction between provocation and stimulus content.

Effects on sexual arousal to rape

Marshall, Seidman, and Barbaree (1991) found that pre-exposure to videotaped depictions of rape increased sexual arousal to rape in a subsequent experimental session, while pre-exposure to videotaped depictions of consenting sex did not. Malamuth and colleagues have found that prior exposure to violent pornography increased subsequent sexual arousal; in a subset of nonoffender controls, prior exposure to depictions of rape increased sexual arousal to rape, while prior exposure to consenting sex did not (Malamuth and Malamuth). These findings are consistent with both conditioning and social learning views of the effect pornography. A particularly noteworthy finding is that showing stimuli that depict the female victim as aroused during the forced sexual interaction appears to potentiate the effect of pornography on sexual arousal to rape. Malamuth and Check (1985) found that depicting the victim as aroused by the forced sexual interaction increased men's beliefs in rape myths, particularly those men who were more inclined to be aggressive toward women, while an earlier study of theirs found an increase in both acceptance of interpersonal violence and rape myths (Malamuth & Check, 1981).

>>

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 15:12:49

And BTW, just to critically analyse my own posted article - WTF is a "man predisposed to sexual aggression?"

TeiTetua Thu 23-Dec-10 15:19:41

I'm intrigued by depictions of nudity alone decreased subsequent aggressive behavior, while nonviolent and violent pornography increased aggressive behavior.

It sounds as if pornography should be prohibited but nudism should be compulsory.

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 15:19:46

"in this case regulation with the ISPs (not necessarily with the opt in scheme) alongside education of parents is the way I would prefer."

But regulation just doesn't work, Australia shows the failings of that in a Western style democracy, China shows that it even fails in a system that simply doesn't care about people's freedoms.

So with regulation you still need education.

With education you can hopefully remove the need for any regulation.

Rather than take the path that has provably failed when taken by those with more will and resources that we could provide why not just try education?

Believe me I want to protect my children. If the Great Firewall of Britain happened I wouldn't relax my guard one little bit, I would still have to be as vigilant as I would have been before, I know that that firewall won't work and won't help.

Educating people is the only option if you genuinely want to protect children.

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 15:24:40

Yes Tei, based on that I might get naked statues scattered around the home.

Niceguy2 Thu 23-Dec-10 15:25:32

>>>who are NOT simply connectivity providers - you may only buy connectivity from your ISP, but they will also, somewhere along the line, be providing content<<<

Wrong and er...wrong.

My ISP gives me the connection. Other than their own website (which I dont have to visit) they don't provide any of their own content.

Whilst you are trying to now distract us with posts on how harmful porn is on men, can I ask if I need to be worried about my GF who seems far more interested in it than I am. Despite I suspect me having seen more of it in the past than she has? Do I need to worry she will suddenly not respect me and want to rape me?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 23-Dec-10 15:27:26

Thanks again, LadyBlaBlah. I think some studies were done on convicted sex offenders, with controls of men who had not been convicted (or, I would hope, accused!) of same. Would these be the men "predisposed to sexual aggression"?

LadyBlaBlah Thu 23-Dec-10 15:27:39

I simply don't agree Badgers

ISPs make a lot of money ( generally in secret) from porn, and they should have some responsibility somewhere for this. AS should the makers of it, but then that's a whole new debate.

I do agree that parents are responsible aswell, just not solely

BadgersPaws Thu 23-Dec-10 15:44:38

"ISPs make a lot of money ( generally in secret) from porn"

No they don't.

ISPs don't make money from much other than just being there.

And right now they're actually having a pretty tough time as people use more and more bandwidth.

"they should have some responsibility somewhere for this"

But for all the reasons discussed it's impossible for them to do it completely, and anything other than complete blocking means that parents still have to be vigilant.

And the moment people encrypt their traffic or use foreign proxy servers there it utterly nothing the ISPs can do.

"AS should the makers of it, but then that's a whole new debate."

Most porn is hosted overseas beyond our control.

"I do agree that parents are responsible aswell, just not solely"

In the end that's where the buck stops for purely technical reasons. Child safety has got to be carried out on each machine and anything other than that is no safety at all.

Why waste money on building a great firewall that will have so many holes so as to be utterly worthless when the same money could have so much greater effect if used to educate and inform?

I want children to be safe.

I'm not willing to pour money into an endless quest to build the perfect firewall, enriching IT consultants along the way, when there are enough examples out there in the world to prove that it's an impossible goal.

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 17:23:48

LadyBlaBlah, are you seriously suggesting that a large percentage of UK ISPs actually host porn? Because that is absolute news to me and I know a fair number of people who work in the ISP business. All the anecdotes I've heard make it clear that very few UK ISPs will even consider hosting it here. The UK has got fairly strict laws on obscenity compared to many other countries. The UK is also fairly expensive in terms of cost-vs-bandwidth and porn hosting must eat up a lot of bandwidth.

But (for fear of being accused of being some sort of porn defender for even pointing this out) this also goes back to the question of "what do you mean by 'porn'?" All the information I've seen is that the vast majority of hardcore images and videos are hosted overseas. Slash fiction and other text-based resources may well be different. I dunno. That kind of stuff doesn't tend to show up in the big discussions and reviews of Internet traffic flows.

But, to go back to the point I've made several times and that you seem to steadfastly ignore, the proposals talk nothing about hosting. It's all about connectivity. But feel free to ignore this fact yet again if you wish.

StuffingGoldBrass Thu 23-Dec-10 18:15:43

Oh FFS someone else quoting fucking Zillman and his 'porn makes people sexually callous; bullshit, badly flawed research (what he appears to call 'callousness' includes a lot of viewponts that many people might call rational, compassionate and liberal ie thinking it's not wrong to be gay and that marriage is not compulsory).
To sum up, no study on porn has ever been able to prove anything conclusive about its effects other than a slight suggestion that men who are already predisposed towards anti-woman violence might be slightly more likely to commit a crime if they look at a lot of porn.
There are also much worse things than porn that DC and sugggestible adults might find on the web. Extreme racist rantings, tips on how to make bombs, distressing pictures of wounds and dismbembered bodies (which may be there legitimately eg as a resource for medical students etc). But pro-censorship activists are always these sexually-dysfunctional woman-hating nutjobs, who think that an atmosphere of ignorance and shame around sex is far preferable to anyone actually seeing a bit of couble anal penetration.

KalokiMallow Thu 23-Dec-10 18:59:06

I apologise in advance, this is probably going to be a long post, but if you are interested in the technical reasons why filtering porn cannot work, then you really should read it.

Anatomy of a website

Domain
The domain is the address you type in.
Eg. www.mumsnet.com
This is actually separate to the website itself, which is why you can have multiple domain names pointed to the same site.

Say you wanted to block www.mumsnet.com you wouldn't necessarily be blocking access to the website itself. As they could then just set up www.mumsnetisback.com without having to change where it is hosted or reload content.

You also could block domain names with keywords in the title, say you blocked "mumsnet", however this wouldn't block www.mummsnet.com - which could easily be pointed at the same site.

So that wouldn't work for filtering websites, too easy to get around.

Hosting
A website is hosted on rented or bought server space, you could block the IP address for a server, which is what the domain name points to. This is about the only way to block websites, but requires you individually blocking each website.

An ISP provides access to the internet, whether for a user or server, some have their own servers which they host sites on. But not all do. Hosting and providing net access are two different things.

URL
Essentially the same as the domain name, but with directions to specific pages or files.
Eg. www.mumsnet.com/Talk

You could block specific pages within a website, either by keyword or knowing the address. However you'd have to somehow take into account embedded information;
The web standard style of coding websites nowadays usually runs along the lines of;
Main page
¬ Header
¬ Content
¬ Footer

So while you may have blocked "main page", you haven't blocked "header", "content" and "footer", and if someone was to direct link to one of them..

Meta Data
Hidden information coded into webpages, usually keywords and a description. Not all sites bother with this though.

So although you could search the meta data for keywords and block pages where the meta keywords are to be filtered, if someone hasn't entered meta data then the computer will have no way of knowing.

HTML/Coding
Keywords could also be in the coding. This will include the text you see on the page. You could block pages with blocked keywords, however, read on to see why that is flawed.

Images
There are only two way to block images.
1) Block any images that are inserted using the <img src= /> code. Which will block 99% of images. 99% of all images that is. Including the MN logo at the top of your page.
2) Block images with filtered keywords, but this has the same problem as meta data, it doesn't have to be filled in. And the image file could be 111111.jpg. With no keyword data, you have no clue of that is a pornographic image or a pretty little flower.

There is no technology that exists that can identify what an unlabelled, generically titled image is either.

Embedded Media
Exactly the same as Images. This covers embedded video, interactive flash and audio.

Different filtering methods

Keywords
You could block keywords. But what keywords would you block for porn?

Penis? Vagina? Breast?
- there goes any website that mentions anatomy in any way, say medical websites...

Pussy?
- so no personal pages about Ginger the cat.

Porn? Erotica?
- There goes this page, and a large part of the feminism forum.

Do any of you have spam filters on your email? Does that work all of the time?
Do you ever get emails asking if you'd like to purchase v1agra?

That's the other way to get round keyword filters, just type things wrong or leave sp aces in them. You could even add in sym|3ols.

Also, if you wanted text but didn't want it searchable then you'd just use an image file with the text on and not label the image file. Easy.

So to summarise. You can block individual IP addresses, one by one - but hang on, how would you implement this? Who'd decide? Do you create a central agency to decide? Or do you leave it up to the public to report?

If you leave it up to the public do you immediately filter any reported sites to look at when someone gets a chance? Or do you wait? Could get a few complaints when sites aren't removed promptly enough? Say you decide that you will only filter a site when it has a set number of complaints? What happens when a large group of internet users decide it would be amusing to all report one site at once?

And would you block the page with the content, or the whole site? What if someone posted a pornographic picture on flickr, do you filter all of flickr?

If you use keywords to block sites then you will block innocent websites.

There's also a flaw with opting in. Say it's a family network, (because remember, the ISP's can't distinguish between separate computers) and one person wants to opt in (possibly because the filter system has blocked a website which isn't actually pornographic) then how do you protect the children?? Oh yeah, a computer based filter. One which can be set up not only for individual computers, but also for individual user accounts on one computer.

And you can set it up to block or not block exactly what you want! How exciting!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Thu 23-Dec-10 19:56:24

Fantastic post, KalokiMallow!

Snorbs Thu 23-Dec-10 20:29:13

Indeed, great post Kaloki. I would just add one thing though. There are systems that analyse pictures and decide whether they are likely to be pornographic or not. They're hopelessly inaccurate and liable to huge numbers of false-positives and false-negatives, of course, but you can get them.

Niceguy2 Fri 24-Dec-10 08:26:40

No No Kaloki. Don't use logic and facts to support your position.

FFS, won't you please think of the childrennnnnn!

Now off you run back to your secret stash of porn! wink

Thank you for that great post, Kaloki

slhilly Fri 24-Dec-10 09:40:30

Hmm...Kaloki and Snorbs, you're overstating the position somewhat re image filtering. Google SafeSearch, for example, is not hopelessly inaccurate. It has more Type 1 and Type 2 errors than you'd want, but it's not too bad -- if you search for complaints about its inaccuracies, for example, you'll find only a few articles. Whether it's good enough for a mandatory ISP-side filter is a different question; and of course it does nothing re torrents, facebook, etc. But let's not overplay the problem.

Most anti-porn feminists are primarily (and understandably) concerned about video and still images made using women, because that's where the bulk of exploitation happens. Text-based porn is a lot lower down the list of priorities.

So clearly the technical solution being striven for is an automated image-recognition system that triggers blocking of IP addresses, presumably with some sort of human oversight. I could imagine a system that piggybacks off Google SafeSearch, eg if an image doesn't get through the "moderate" filter, the IP address from which the image comes from is blocked. I think there'd be significant technical challenges, but it could be done. However, as I've said repeatedely, it wouldn't materially affect any teen's exposure to internet-sourced porn, and would have significant downsides.

BadgersPaws Fri 24-Dec-10 10:13:59

"So clearly the technical solution being striven for is an automated image-recognition system that triggers blocking of IP addresses, presumably with some sort of human oversight. I could imagine a system that piggybacks off Google SafeSearch, eg if an image doesn't get through the "moderate" filter, the IP address from which the image comes from is blocked."

The whole IP address is blocked? So one suspect image, which might be completely innocent, on a web page and the entire site gets blocked? And not just that site but anything on the same IP address?

About 1000 photos per second are uploaded to Facebook, if one of them trips the image filter then the whole of Facebook gets blocked until someone comes along with some human oversight and unblocks it.

And then the 1000 photos a second keep on coming so how long before it's blocked again.

So Facebook would be repeatedly blocked throughout a day and a small workforce would be assigned to just try and keep on top of those photos out of the 1000 a second that trip the filter.

And that's just Facebook. It would be the same for every single site that accepts user submitted content.

Utterly impractical.

"I think there'd be significant technical challenges, but it could be done."

I don't think that it could be done, the sheer volume of new content is overwhelming and the technical and human infrastructure required to keep on top of it would be impossible to put in place.

Look again at China, as it's the example given by the promoters of this for working Internet regulation, even they can't do it. The solution they've put in place for sites with a lot of user content is just to block the whole thing, they don't even try to keep on top of it.

slhilly Fri 24-Dec-10 10:26:47

Badgers, if you re-read my earlier messages, you'll see that I explicitly say that filters cannot deal with user-generated content and community websites such as Facebook.

BadgersPaws Fri 24-Dec-10 10:27:17

I can't find statistics for the number of false positives for Googles image scanning software but similiar packages for home use are boasting having only a 10% false positive rate.

So apply that to Facebook and 100 false positive photos a second out of the 1000 images would trip the image filter and lead to blocking of the IP address, which would block Facebook.

So Facebook would be permanently blocked and produce a work queue of 100 images a second every second to be checked by a human.

Call it 5 seconds to call up an image, look at it and approve or disapprove it and you need a work for of 500 people working 24 hours a day just to keep on top of Facebook.

And that's just Facebook.

And that's why automatic filtering and blocking with human oversight just doesn't work. As said even the Chinese couldn't put the resources in place to keep up.

BadgersPaws Fri 24-Dec-10 10:29:54

"Badgers, if you re-read my earlier messages, you'll see that I explicitly say that filters cannot deal with user-generated content and community websites such as Facebook."

Fair point.

But what I said was still worth saying for those that believe that automatic image filters with automatic blocking are a technical and human possibility.

Snorbs Fri 24-Dec-10 11:09:30

I was talking about a specific technology - that which analyses the actual image to decide whether it is pornographic or not. They're (as far as I am aware) hopelessly unreliable.

I think Google image Safe Search works by taking a look at the context surrounding the image. So if the image comes from a page that's got lots of porn-related descriptions then it's assumed to be dodgy. Or if the site has links to other, known porn sites, then it's assumed dodgy. And if someone clicks on the "Report this image" link in Safe Search then that is also added to the weighting.

I do recall a discussion a year or so ago on some techie website (could've been slashdot) about an analysis of Google safe search results. Apparently it does tend to err on the side of caution and exclude images that are actually ok, just as a "guilt by association" thing based on the sites that link to them.

I don't think Google safe search actually analyses the image itself. It's hard enough to get a computer to understand what's in a picture at the best of times, let alone to distinguish between (say) a picture of a bloke with his shirt off and a woman with her shirt off.

Arguably it would be easier to analyse and detect porn videos than still images. Most sex acts have a certain, um, rhythm to them and it's easier to identify limb position in moving images than in still pictures. It's a hugely processor-intensive task but not an impossible one.

BadgersPaws Fri 24-Dec-10 12:37:08

"Arguably it would be easier to analyse and detect porn videos than still images. Most sex acts have a certain, um, rhythm to them and it's easier to identify limb position in moving images than in still pictures. It's a hugely processor-intensive task but not an impossible one."

YouTube adds 30 hours of new video every minute, that's an enormous amount of content to keep on top of and that's just YouTube and not all the other video sites out there.

And do you filter every new video that appears? In which case you need some serious hardware.

Or do you just filter videos as they are requested by someone within the firewall? In which case you still need some very heavy hardware and give everyone who watches a video for the first time a serious delay as the video is first downloaded by the checker and then analysed before being released.

And then you still need the staff to deal with the enormous volume of falsely categorised, either as safe or unsafe, videos.

In isolation scanning one video and saying that it's porn or not might be plausible. Once you scale that up and include the impact of the false positives and negatives it becomes completely unworkable.

Once again look at China who have thrown themselves into Internet filtering with serious commitment and they are unable to do this, and they'd be happy to accept a very high false positive rate as they've got no qualms about blocking when they shouldn't. Even then they can't manage it.

And once again the moment network traffic becomes encrypted the ISP is utterly powerless to do anything.

Snorbs Fri 24-Dec-10 13:44:42

Oh absolutely. It's not something that scales well at all. I think I used the wrong word when I said "easier".

What I meant was that as a technical exercise, and just pondering off the top of my head, I reckon you'd have a greater chance of a machine analysing and correctly identifying porn videos than still porn images.

You'd need to throw a staggering amount of bandwidth and processor time at it and you'd still get a huge lot of false-positives and false-negatives. You'd likely need a significant proportion of Google's server estate and backbone links just to keep up with new videos being added every day let alone checking all the umpty-exabytes of existing video files out there.

And it's definitely not something that is feasible on-the-fly as you're downloading it so it wouldn't be difficult to circumvent (hint: make the humans enter captchas to get to the videos. The indexer/analyser will never see the videos and so will be unable to check them. And you can't just blanket-deny all non-verified videos as that'll screw all legitimate sites sitting behind a login system or paywall).

It's just that I think that, as a gedanken experiment, with video you'd get fewer false-pos and false-neg than you do with still images. I absolutely agree that it's still totally impracticable in the real world.

NetworkGuy Wed 02-Feb-11 22:20:17

Very disappointing to see Mumsnet has decided to support this idea and now list it on the campaigns page.

I would urge the team at MNHQ to talk to the Tech bods and see how poor this idea is from technical viewpoint.

I would then urge MNHQ to publically tell the Minister that it will be a waste of time and customer money to expect the ISPs to build some sort of giant filtering facility, especially when some ISPs offer generous quantities of data for very low cost.

(I pay under 10 pounds for one account and can download without limit between 0000 and 0800. My average quantity of traffic for the quarter ending 31/12/2010 was nearly 200 GB a month (it could have been several times that if my line was not at 2.5 Mbps, when you consider someone on Fibre could get 30 Mbps all night!). In my case my ISP gives me an allowance of 60 GB to use in the 'peak hours ' (0800-2400) and I used over double that during 'off peak' hours.)

Who really expects the ISPs to be able to implement this for under say 5 pounds a month? Also, for those who decide to "opt in" why should they want to pay the ISPs costs to filter out material, when they are going to get an uncensored feed anyway ?

I suggest 5 pounds a month, but of course that would be 5 pounds surcharge forever, because the initial tens of millions would have to be borrowed by the ISPs and they would likely never recover the full cost as there would be running costs and upgrades to cope with forever more traffic.

Please, MNHQ, have a rethink, get your technical support people to give a summary of points where the whole thing fails to make sense. Educating parents, offering a software product (or promoting one such as can no doubt be recommended by existing users) would be far more beneficial than attempts to filter any of the material out, because there are ways around each and every firewall, given some ingenuity and that 'academic interest' to achieve a goal.

[ Incidentally, "Academic Interest" was the name of an underground news sheet by hackers, for hackers. I still have a copy I was given by someone running a security firm, who had managed to infiltrate the ranks, so he could keep tabs on what had been achieved. ]

I am another person who hopes that the .XXX TLD comes into use sooner rather than later (took 5 years because of the ICANN people being put under pressure by groups like the American Family Association). Of course, once it comes into use, there needs to be pressure to force any businesses using .org and eventually .com onto .xxx so they can be more easily filtered out by internet users with minimal effort.

Snorbs Wed 02-Feb-11 22:44:03

What!? FFS.

MNHQ, did you not bother to read this thread?

NetworkGuy Wed 02-Feb-11 23:13:48

Come on Snorbs - it doesn't need MNHQ staff to read, but for their Techie staff to explain the problems, as what they say will be taken notice of. However computer literate MNHQ people are, they perhaps underestimate the scale of the problem, as various people have explained earlier. It sounds such a good idea, in theory, but the practical hurdles are many and we know it will be as useful as a condom with a hole in it!

If Mumsnet then went public on radio and TV saying the suggestion is unlikely to work, will cost a fortune with the costs passed to ISP customers, and, overall, will not guarantee everything is 'clean', so parents will still need to be educated and consider software to block porn, then the Minister might take some notice.

The rest of the media would, and I suspect they'd get journalists from Computing and Computer Weekly to discuss the pros and cons.

It could save time and cash if a quick radio debate circumvented the Minister getting some civil service study undertaken where a number of IT consultants will suggest figures which might treble before implementation, and of course there will be only partial guarantee of achieving the stated aims.

Snorbs Wed 02-Feb-11 23:34:28

Or, maybe, just make the point that ISP-level filters are already sodding available for anyone who cares to move ISP to one that offers them as a service.

But, apparently, that's not good enough. No, we've got to have a crappy, expensive, poorly designed and above all ineffective technical solution to what is predominantly a social problem. Technical solutions to social problems never work.

Anybody who knows what the real issues are will continue using PC-level filtering and keeping an eye on what their kids are doing. Anybody who doesn't will either opt out of the ISP-level filters because they realise their favourite (not necessarily porn) sites are being inadvertently blocked, or stay opted in but still not supervising and have their kids circumventing the filter anyway.

I thought nanny-state politics was supposed to be a vice of the left, not the right?

NetworkGuy Wed 02-Feb-11 23:36:44

Out of interest which ISPs do offer them, and are they effective ?

NetworkGuy Wed 02-Feb-11 23:37:40

sorry - mostly effective

Google safe search is hopeless;y inaccurate.

I had to turn mine off recently to find anything vaguely usable that would give enough impact (without being graphic) for a project.

40 images, ranging from trafficking, poverty, war, homelessness, and the like - and only a handful I found without the safe search turned totally off.

And the end results were not graphic - I have shown both my older DS's what I produced at the end of it.

However going back to the actual thread topic (which I have just read in it's entireity).

Lets just say they do it, and it's techinically possible, doesn't add £20 a momth to my broadband bill, I only have to ring up 25 times in the first month to get safe websites (presuming it was individual websites that were blocked and not just a "yes to porn" "no to porn" option). So -my children are "safe" (almost).

But then - they go to their friends house - and their parents watch porn,and have asked for all porn websites to be accessible...well there's nothing I can do about that. Just like there's nothing I can do about it now while I have (personalish) control over what they see at home on the computer.

ChunkyPickle Thu 03-Feb-11 01:30:57

Or, they do what I would do and use secure proxy which encrypts what's sent back so the filter at the ISP can't see it anyway.

That's what I would do, and that's exactly what any kid would do after a 2 minute google session.

Snorbs Thu 03-Feb-11 07:33:49

AOL is the first ISP that springs to mind that offers content filtering. I think Talk Talk does as well.

Plus, many (if not all) of the mobile Internet providers provide adult service filtering. Vodafone does it as an opt-out service - ie, you have to prove you're over 18 before you're allowed to adult sites.

Snorbs Thu 03-Feb-11 07:36:41

Baroque, as noted on the other thread, you won't have the ability to turn on and off access to individual sites. It would be a system management nightmare for the ISP. It would have to be either on or off.

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 10:33:46

I still think that the most useful and most cost effective solution would be free software to every household. And a centrally updated database which the user can then choose to use as is, or allow/add individual sites to as they see fit.

But would that involve people actually taking responsibility? hmm

Seriously MNHQ, please read this thread. Or in fact any article based on techological facts rather than scaremongering.

Snorbs Thu 03-Feb-11 11:14:35

Kaloki, you're absolutely right. The place to do filtering is on the PC, and that should be backed up with parental supervision. That some parents cannot be bothered to do so is a social issue, not a technological one.

There are already a number of free software filters that are available of course. The Windows PC that my DCs use is set up with the (free!) Microsoft Family Safety Centre. That's been working well but, even then, I've had to fine-tune the list of allowed and disallowed sites.

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 12:45:32

Thought I'd post this here as well, to save people wading through. It should be pretty jargon free (I tried at least) for the non-tech lot. Explanation.

differentnameforthis Fri 04-Feb-11 00:28:22

A lot of people who are against campaigns like this will be porn users or even make a living from the sex industry

What a load of....

I am neither a porn user, nor make my living in the sex industry...but I don't want a filter!

I don't want the Gov/my ISP dictating what I use my PC for. Wars were not fought for dictatorship.

threefeethighandrising Sat 05-Feb-11 01:23:50

"So clearly the technical solution being striven for is an automated image-recognition system that triggers blocking of IP addresses "

So no pictures of breastfeeding on the internet then. Or any art with nudes in it. Or medical sites with naked people. Or .. the list is endless.

A computer is never going to get it right, and as people explained above the sheer amount of people needed to check the decisions made by the computer made this unworkable.

I don't give a stuff about porn on the internet. But I do care greatly about freedom of information. Once we go down the censorship route, what will be next?

It's not about porn, there are better, cheaper ways of stopping your children getting access to porn. The internet is bringing people together in ways which were unimaginable not so long ago, and giving us access to an amazing wealth of information. Knowledge is power, and the internet is shifting power to the people. Look at how the uprising in Egypt began, for example.

Of course governments are twitchy and the less enlightened ones (such as ours, right now) are keen to control it.

This is not something we should support!

threefeethighandrising Sat 05-Feb-11 01:28:38

How can we write to mumsnet to ask them to reconsider their support for this?

there is another (quite lengthy) discussion on this taking place here - including MNHQ's response to the situation

Also mentions the sort of stuff which I can (guarantee) you wouldn't want your children to be finding which wouldn't be blocked by an ISP filter

JBellingham Tue 08-Feb-11 13:38:49

just went on to mediawatch-uk.blogspot.com/ and my employer's filter blocked it as 'The web page download (HTML, 112 KB) was restricted by the rule 'TextCensor Rules\Scan and block pornographic content'

made me chuckle

strawberrycake Tue 08-Feb-11 13:43:06

Sorry, I'm with snorbs too. Too wishy-washy. I'm an advocate of survised internet surfing and see it as a parent's responsibility to ensure what they view online is ok. That's why mine can't use PCs alone, it's in the front room (bar the 16 yr old, she's old enough to choose imo).

strawberrycake Tue 08-Feb-11 13:45:16

I do find it embarrassing to tell people I use mumsnet because of supporting these campaigns and such like.

JBellingham Tue 08-Feb-11 15:20:10

Suggesting that filtering content at ISP level is viable, is a joke, one that will cost a fortune and be of no use. It is also not laudable for the many reasons posted previously. An ill thought out proposal from an ill-informed MP.

I am concerned with knife crime amongst the younger people too. I will write to this MP to ask to abolish the manufacture and importing of all knives. Er except for the ones used in surgery, oh and for kitchens but definately the ones young people use, for stabbing, but not for eating their dinner.

Oh maybe parents should keep a count of knives in the drawer and tell their children that knives can be dangerous.

NetworkGuy Thu 10-Feb-11 00:09:52

strawberrycake - on Monday (I think, losing track this week) MNHQ "pulled" the campaign page that said they supported this. There is still a small item on the main /campaigns section, but after some lengthy discussion in "Site Stuff" (title "recent decision by MNHQ") they are rethinking how to express a level of support for child safety, but until we see what they come up with, it will be unclear how close to giving support to Ed Vaizey and the other groups they will appear.

NetworkGuy Thu 10-Feb-11 00:10:49

Incidentally, seeing the last posts before mine were on 8th February, did anyone know that was "Safer Internet Day" ? I only found out via a news item on ThinkBroadband.com and feel there had been very poor publicity beforehand.

Rockhound Fri 11-Feb-11 12:27:32

There are some points that I think are worth (re)stating here about this topic. The question is 'Should Mumsnet support a voluntary filtering system run by ISPs that could block pornography before it comes into the home'

Lets put it another way - would you object to your ISP being able to offer you such a service that you can choose to turn on and off, and if not, why object to a campaign asking for them.

TalkTalk Poll - TalkTalk paid for a representative poll to be carried out last week (2nd Feb). Their CEO is a woman, Dido Harding. This poll showed that 77% of women indicated they would use an ISP level filter if it was available.

I understand that TalkTalk are developing some kind of voluntary filtering system, so I guess it must be technologically possible to do!

These would be voluntary giving the parent control over them. Therefore this is not censorship of any kind. You are free to have the filter turned off if you want.

Are they Possible?
Blocking sites is possible, both at the PC and ISP level. Some countries force ISPs to do this. PC level blocking systems include K9, SafeEyes, NetNanny etc.

None of them are perfect, but they help do a job. Would an ISP level filter be perfect? No. Is that a reason why they should not be available for those who would like them? No. Give us the option to choose and see. No other filter is perfect either.

The advantages of voluntary ISP level filtering would include:
1) Greater and easier power for parental control over the entire home at one point. Remove the burden of having to install, monitor etc each PC in the home individually.
2) Protection for ALL web enabled devices in the home. Including those for which device-level filters are not available such as games consoles, blu-ray players, TVs with more to come.
3) Increased protection from malware attacks. Many of these originate from pornography sites.

Mumsnet Support?
So, should Mumsnet support a campaign that will give us an additional tool to help us exercise our parental responsibility with greater ease (acknowledging it will be as imperfect as all the others), giving us more control of what goes on in our homes?

I would suggest that the answer is yes.

JBellingham Fri 11-Feb-11 13:51:02

Rockhound - all the software on your PC is not the question. If you have this on your pc you do not need ISP filtering.

How many of the 77% would go on to not bother installing software on their PC? The ones that dont are putting their children at risk.

Which countries offer IPS filtering? China? Australia? - both useless.

Why limit all the access devices in your house? What if you only want to limit your childs computers?

No mention of cost and overhead to traffic. I think other people on this thread have explained quite well why technically it is a bad thing, and why practically it leaves more children at risk.

Rockhound Fri 11-Feb-11 14:22:41

Cost: TalkTalk Group interim results to September 30 - £27m pre tax profit. Small compared to BT with £781m (guardian.co.uk, Thursday 11 November 2010)

Looks like there is money there to put this in place.

Actually, I'd like to find out more about what TalkTalk are planning.

With the can't be done argument, if the mobile phone industry can (and in many cases, does) then why not the ISP's. Indeed, Indonesia forced Blackberry to do this or loose their license. From that article:

'Setting up filters to block access to certain Web sites typically isn't difficult. Indeed, most countries require ISPs to offer content filtering, said John Pescatore of research firm Gartner Inc.'

I agree that it may be difficult, but not impossible to set something up.

And for covering costs - why not charge those that want access to porn for it? It is what TV adult channels do, and indeed many porn sites themselves, so there could already be a business model to cover that one.

DepartmentOfCountingTheMoon Sat 12-Feb-11 10:05:24

Rockhound, I don't think anyone's said it can't be done. You could block all access to everything except those on a very short list of regularly vetted sites and you're pretty much guaranteed to have blocked all porn.

The problem is that doing it at the ISP means that it will be done poorly compared to other methods. ISP-level blocking will be inflexible and easily circumvented.

There are also big worries over whether this proposal really is about only blocking porn or whether it's more to do with blocking all sites that you wouldn't want your children to see. There's a big difference but some of the pressure groups that seem to be driving this are really after blocking everything that isn't guaranteed child friendly.

But I'm glad that Talk Talk are trialling this. It will be very interesting to see how many people who actually want ISP filtering move to Talk Talk and actually turn the thing on. It will also be very interesting to see how many subsequently turn it off because they can no longer access sites that they want to even though they may not be porn.

This is the way it should be done. If an ISP thinks there is demand for a filtering service then they can offer it (maybe at extra cost to cover the equipment the ISP will need to buy) and people can vote with their wallets. People could do that today as there are ISPs that offer filtering. What I object to is that Vaisey wants ISPs to do it "voluntarily" and if they don't then he'll introduce legislation to force them.

So Rockhound, as you seem to feel that ISP filtering is worthwhile and beneficial, can I ask if you with an ISP that offers filtering? And if not, why not?

PlentyOfParsnips Sat 12-Feb-11 10:23:17

I had a look at what TalkTalk are actually offering - it's not great. I posted about it here

Rockhound Sat 12-Feb-11 12:41:13

@DepartmentOfCountingTheMoon - Yes, I am with TalkTalk. Did not realise that they had launched something already in a test phase. Will try it out and see what happens.

A limited number of people here have given then very strong impression that this is pretty near impossible to do. That seemed to have dominated the debate away from whether they would be a useful and desirable addition to what we already have. It was this point that I wanted to raise again.

@PlentyOfParsnips - Thanks for that link. It may not be fantastic, but do give them credit for making a start, and also remember this is a trial at the moment, so the final system may be more flexible and controllable in the end. I am sure if enough people use it and comment it will develop over time!

So here is an interesting question:
If an ISP-level filter were in place, what functionality would you like it to have, how would you like to use it?

I wouldn't use it at all quite frankly. I would continue to user filter at home which means that I can have different levels of access depending on who is using the computer at the time.

So DS3 is limited to Cbeebies etc

DS2 can have a few games websites,

DS1 can have the above plus sites that would cover puberty, and probably a little news as well (Newsround etc)

Then I would have a much looser setting (or as I do at the moment none) for my own personal use.

A filter at ISP level wouldn't allow this. it would be "on" or "off" - meaning I would still have to use software at home rendering the ISP filter useless.

DepartmentOfCountingTheMoon Sat 12-Feb-11 13:38:32

I would want the filter criteria to be different for different people in my house. Eg, I want to be able to access mumsnet because I'm an adult, but I don't want my DCs to be exposed to the bad language and sex talk on here.

It would be very helpful if there were a range of filtering categories I can pick and choose from to form the basis for each user's filter list which I could then customise as required.

I would also want to be able to add and remove sites from the filter lists quickly and easily.

Plus I would want easily-accessible reports that show which person in my house is accessing which websites and when.

Department - and ISP run filter couldn't do that though. You would either have to have it "off" or "on".

So if, like me, you have 2 computers in the house and you wanted your children to go on one while you were on the other. They both use the same ISP connection. If you wanted to access mumsnet - then an ISP filter would either block it for all of you, or allow it for all of you.

Software on your units at home can do all you want.

DepartmentOfCountingTheMoon Sat 12-Feb-11 14:46:27

Baroque, I know. That was my point - what I want is simply not achievable with an ISP filter.

PlentyOfParsnips Sat 12-Feb-11 16:02:31

Like Baroque, I would like something that's a lot more configurable than the simple on/off of an ISP filter. I'd also like it not to put me on an 'I <3 porn' list when I switch the blessed thing off because it doesn't work. Oh, and I'd like it if it didn't involve putting in place a machinery that could be used to censor anything that any future government didn't want me to look at for any reason. I'd also like it to not slow down the internet for everybody, or cost everybody more money. It would need a big warning on it to tell parents that it was no substitute for client-side filtering, keeping an eye and talking to their DC.

Rockhound, I don't understand why you are so set on ISP filters as the answer to this problem. Do you have some sort of commercial interest?

I started another thread here to discuss alternative ideas, if anybody's interested.

Ell11 Mon 14-Feb-11 14:41:59

Hi, sorry to barge in briefly but I just wanted to register my opinion as a parent of two young girls. I'm not great with the technical stuff and it worries me not so much for my own children - I will be able to monitor carefully as they grow older what they can access - but the children they come into contact with. I cannot monitor what their future friends/boyfriends look at on the Internet and I'm of the opinion that porn, like drugs, can be addictive meaning that you need to see more and more hardcore stuff to keep you interested. I'm worried for all children, not just my own. Watching porn does not teach us how to maintain healthy, long term relationships. Surely we want the next generation to be able to do this?

It is the responsibility of everyone to protect our youngsters- if the ISPs can do this then they should and I think that Mumsnet should support anyone who tries.

BadgersPaws Mon 14-Feb-11 16:28:24

"if the ISPs can do this then they should and I think that Mumsnet should support anyone who tries."

But that's the whole point, ISPs cannot do this (go and look at China who have put more effort and money into this than we ever could).

And, what's worse, in pretending that it can be done they'll further reinforce the ideas that there's nothing that parents can do about this. The filters will fail, porn will get through and parents won't be any the wiser about what they genuinely can do to protect their children.

Rockhound Mon 14-Feb-11 16:49:34

@PlentyOfParsnips - no, I do not have a commercial interest in this at all.

@BaroqueAroundTheClock - there was never a suggestion that an ISP filter could, or should, provide the ability to give the control you are asking for.

However, that does not mean that they do not have a place. What I personally would like an ISP filter to be is:

Voluntary system that I have complete control over, with no government influence or control now or in the future. Therefore, no use for censorship (beyond stuff like the web-based child sex abuse that exists currently)

Adjustable so that I can logon to my personal ISP account and free / block specific URLs / domains as I choose.

Sensible applying the best practice of stuff like K9, Safeeyes etc, but allowing me to do this for the whole house in one go.

Knowing / Learning the difference between pornography and sites like Wikipedia / Mumsnet etc. The fact that MN has several references to anal sex should not cause the domain to be blocked by any sensible system, and I think suggestions that it would automatically cause problems are unfounded. Does it with PC based stuff?

Timed preferably allowing account holder to set it to automatically turn off at a personally set 'watershed' time if desired.

Easy to use having simple, click-button methods to add new sites, simple ways of unblocking desired sites etc.

Again, as said before, for many this could be a useful tool to help provide a first line of defence for a whole household. My experience with PC filters is that they too can be quite frustration, block the wrong stuff, be imperfect and slow down systems.

I accept all the statements about individual PC control, and this would not negate that if you wanted it.

I also grant that NetworkGuy comments re routers makes a lot of sense too, as quoted in PlentyOfParsnips thread. However, I still believe that the ISP filter has a place and part to play as a tool in all this.

BadgersPaws Mon 14-Feb-11 17:07:27

"Adjustable so that I can logon to my personal ISP account and free / block specific URLs / domains as I choose."

But every PC in your house would have the same limitations? You could not have different settings for you and your children.

"Knowing / Learning the difference between pornography and sites like Wikipedia / Mumsnet etc."

And that's where things really become impossible. You believe that the Mumsnet uses of "Anal Sex" are OK, but many others would actually disagree with you. In the end it all comes down to context, and context is incredibly difficult for computers to even begin to understand. Any automated filter would almost certainly block Mumsnet as there really is no way to logically differentiate between a porn story featuring anal sex and a discussion between adults of the same thing. The only way for things like this to work is for their to be human intervention. And as for Wikipedia we've already seen the IWF block it once by "accident" and the only way that China can manage it's censorship it just to block the whole thing. And the Chinese are on the cutting edge of internet censorship, so if they can't manage it what hope have we? So wave goodbye to Wikipedia.

"Easy to use having simple, click-button methods to add new sites, simple ways of unblocking desired sites etc."

So every home has their own list of potentially thousands of exceptions to the millions of sites on the black list?

On the one hand great, you've generated a massive amount of work for people like me in the IT industry. On the other hand bad for you, you'll be paying our wages and putting up with the drastic slowing down of your browsing that this is going to cause you.

"I accept all the statements about individual PC control, and this would not negate that if you wanted it."

But good individual PC level control would completely negate the need for the expensive, speed impacting and unreliable ISP level filter.

DamnYouAutocorrect Mon 14-Feb-11 17:15:56

One thing I don't understand, if it can be done centrally for images of child abuse, why can't it be done for legal porn images?

BadgersPaws Mon 14-Feb-11 17:23:23

"if it can be done centrally for images of child abuse, why can't it be done for legal porn images?"

Child abuse is a very obvious thing, there's no need for debate about whether it's a "Mums net bum sex" type of conversation of a "Hardcore porn bum sex" type of story.

There's thankfully a small enough quantity of it about that the IWF can rely on members of the public to report individual pages and they can be checked by a real person before being added to the black list.

The IWF has to manage less than a thousand pages on it's black list, a reasonable number to work with.

A porn blacklist on the other hand would have millions of entries on it and would need something many times bigger than the IWF to deal with. There is so much porn on the internet that the idea that humans could even check each address before blacklisting it is almost certainly an impossibility. And even then you've got the debate over what is and what isn't porn.

And the IWF, despite it's thankfully small and clearly defined task, is not with controversy.

Despite it's very clear legal definition and small number of pages to investigate it still managed to block the entire Wikipedia web site.

And not every ISP uses the IWF blacklist for those very reasons, it's not particularly reliable and is open all sorts of problems.

BadgersPaws Mon 14-Feb-11 17:24:30

"And the IWF, despite it's thankfully small and clearly defined task, is not without controversy."

Stupid fingers...

Snorbs Mon 14-Feb-11 17:57:58

Rockhound, what you have asked for may not be achievable with ISP filters.

You say that you want to be able to add/remove sites as you see fit. That is something that you can easily do on a PC-based filter but it does not scale up well to an ISP-class site blocking system.

I note that the TalkTalk trial will limit people to only 10 modifications to the default filter list. That's because the overhead in keeping track of which user wants to be able to access which site, multiplied by tens or hundreds of thousands of users, is a considerable burden. I've run these kinds of systems in a corporate context and I know how much of an impact this can have. If you're not careful the thing takes so long to check whether it should allow a certain user to access a certain site that it noticeably slows down Internet access for everyone. The Australian trial demonstrated much the same issue.

Your "sensible" requirement is problematic as well. Orange does blocking of non child-friendly sites by default unless you prove you're over 18. The default Orange filter blocks mumsnet. As well it should, to be honest - the language on here can be fucking appalling and I don't allow my children to visit this site. But I want to. An ISP-level filter could not offer that level of flexibility as an ISP level filter can't tell if it's you or your DC on the computer.

BadgersPaws Mon 14-Feb-11 19:26:05

"The Australian trial demonstrated much the same issue. "

This is a big point, nations have tried to censor and filter the internet already, there are examples out there to show what a disaster such an approach is. The opponents of the filters aren't making their objections up, they can point to nations that have tried this and failed.

Australia shows a democratic nations attempt at filtering out porn, and it just hasn't worked.

China shows what a more ruthless Government willing to do pretty much anything and spend almost any amount to control their populace can achieve. And that's pretty much nothing. And they had to resort to pushing for controls on each PC, which many of the opponents have been saying all along is the only real way to control what people do on the internet.

But the people pushing for filters keep on ignoring those real world examples, why?

Ell11 Mon 14-Feb-11 19:49:44

"But the people pushing for filters keep on ignoring those real world examples, why?"

I'm guessing that, like me, they are very concerned about what our young people, who can access porn so easily (a Panorama programme recently asked a group of 14 year old boys if they had seen porn on the Internet and they all had) will mean for the future of the nation.

I have read and tried to understand what people have been saying about filters/ISPs etc and the failure of other countries to block porn and it seems a complete nightmare! However (and I realise I am not someone who has the first idea about it) surely something needs to change?

I'm just speaking personally but I don't want my girls going out with boys who have high demands of them sexually because they have "seen how it's done" on the Internet. I'm saddened that it is a complete technical and logistical nightmare to block porn more effectively.

BadgersPaws Mon 14-Feb-11 22:52:29

"I'm guessing that, like me, they are very concerned about what our young people, who can access porn so easily snip will mean for the future of the nation."

I'm concerned about what our children see on the internet too, and I've no doubt that all of the other attackers of this proposal feel the same way too.

We're not saying that children should be allowed to access whatever they want on the internet. What we're saying is that the best method of protecting them is to protect them at home. And that means spending money to educate people rather than wasting it stuffing it into the money of the IT industry engaged in a never ending and futile task.

Protection at home covers by accidental discovery of inappropriate material and deliberate attempts by older children to get around the filters. It covers both the web, which is all these filters are proposed to do, and all the other usages of the internet (file sharing, chat programs, games etc. etc.) so is generally a much better option.

Plus it lets me rather than some abstract Government body decide what is right for my children and means that I can set different levels for different members of the household. It also lets me decide what is and what isn't an appropriate site. For young children you can bet that I'll be blocking just about everything, including in particular Wikipedia, but then as they grow that can be loosened off.

"However snip surely something needs to change?"

What needs to change?

Internet Filtering at the ISP level will never be right for the job and it's not for want of trying by countries like China.

What needs to change is to raise the awareness in parents that they, and they alone, have the capability to make their children safe online. And that's back to education again.

The key point is that these proposed filters won't really affect me, other than having to cough up the extra money on top of my broadband bill to fund them. I'll not rely on them one bit for my children's safety and if they slow down my internet browsing or block too many "innocent" sites then I'll just get around them.

This isn't about my children's safety. This is about your children's safety, and for their sake silly proposals like this need to be dropped and proper, sensible and workable steps need to be taken.

Ell11 Tue 15-Feb-11 10:21:12

BadgersPaws, I see what you're saying and perhaps the 'something' which needs to change is parental awareness of how easily their very computer literate children can access whatever they like on the Internet. I agree, it seems that education is needed. My children are too small at the moment for me to worry about it but I myself need educating in how to ensure the computers in our house are protected for when they are older. I will ensure this happens for my own children and I'm sure the majority of parents will also do the same - will a little help from government education.

There are always going to be parents who are not as conscientious though and perhaps it is these children the government want to try to protect. Is there anything that can be done at all? Unless porn on the Internet is banned completely (obviously never gonna happen!) then I guess we just allow these children to get away with it? Therefore perhaps it's not just parents that need educating? Perhaps Teens need to be told themselves of the dangers/consequences of seeing porn. Then they can make their own informed decisions when they 'accidentally' come upon a pornographic image/site.

BadgersPaws Tue 15-Feb-11 11:09:33

"I will ensure this happens for my own children and I'm sure the majority of parents will also do the same - will a little help from government education."

But if the Government is wasting, or charging you, a staggering amount of money for the filters then there's less money in the pot for that much needed education.

There will also be the impression that the filters replace the need for parental action.

"There are always going to be parents who are not as conscientious though and perhaps it is these children the government want to try to protect."

But the introduction of filters will not protect them and it will give parents the impression that they don't need to do anything, which puts more children in harms way.

I'll use an analogy I've used elsewhere on this subject, infant car seats in a country that doesn't have any laws on the matter.

The Government could choose to introduce a generic car seat that will be fitted into all cars at the expense of the car owner/purchaser. These generic seats won't fit all cars properly and won't safely hold all sizes of children. Therefore they won't protect most children from most impacts, children will be harmed.

And the Generic car seats will stop parents thinking that they need to hunt down a better car seat, they'll think that their Government is promoting the best option, after all they have been spending a fortune on the generic seats and why would they do that if they weren't up to the task?

Or the Government could choose to introduce an education and awareness policy so as to make parents aware of the importance of getting the right seat for their car and child. Children will then be as well protected as is possible.

So a generic policy that protects a few and reduces the chances of proper protection being put in place?

Or a policy to help protect everybody to the best extent possible?

"Unless porn on the Internet is banned completely then I guess we just allow these children to get away with it?"

No we don't. And this has to got be understood, the opponents of this scheme are not shrugging their shoulders and saying "ah well, they'll see what they're going to see".

I do not want my children seeing all sorts of inappropriate things that lurk on the internet. I will not "just allow" it, I will deal with it, and the absolutely best way of making that happen is parental awareness and control.

"Perhaps Teens need to be told themselves of the dangers/consequences of seeing porn."

There is no agreement on what the danger or consequences might be, and personally I believe that that's a very personal decision.

What matters to be is that I, not some obscure Government body, have the ability to decide what is right for my children to see and that I have the capabilities to do the best I can to make that happen.

I don't care what the Government view of porn ends up being, I don't want my children to see it, I will block it.

Ell11 Tue 15-Feb-11 12:19:34

BadgersPaws I am with you! I was not accusing you personally of being a parent who will allow your children to view what they like - far from it! And I am strongly in favour of parents making their own informed choices as to how to bring up their children, not just in this area but all aspects of parenting! I understand your analogy of the car seat.

"There is no agreement on what the danger or consequences might be, and personally I believe that that's a very personal decision."

YouGov poll done for TalkTalk last week:
83% believe that seeing Internet pornography is damaging. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/8314648 /Internet-porn-regulation-could-be-the-only-answer .html

Surely if so many parents don't want their children seeing porn, then it's because it is wrong for them to see it. If it is wrong for them to see it, then there is a reason for that - it is damaging to them (how damaging is the debate I guess). Perhaps more discussion and research needs to take place as to what exactly the damage is and the extent the damage effects the future life of the child.

As I'm not technically 'gifted' or particularly clear about how much what the government plans to do would cost, I cannot really make up my mind as to what the best thing would be. All I want is for children to stop getting access to porn and I will back anything that claims to do this!

Thank you, BadgersPaws for giving me so much insight into this topic - I feel much more informed as a result.

BadgersPaws Tue 15-Feb-11 13:03:23

"Perhaps more discussion and research needs to take place as to what exactly the damage is and the extent the damage effects the future life of the child."

I don't think that that's relevant to this debate, I don't think that anyone is saying that they're OK with their children seeing porn.

This isn't about whether or not children should be able to get to porn but about the best way of stopping them getting to it.

"All I want is for children to stop getting access to porn and I will back anything that claims to do this!"

Well that means that you won't back the filters as real world examples show that they won't stop people being able to get at pretty much anything.

And surely it should take more than a "claim" to do something? Surely there's got to be technical backing for a technical proposal? Surely there should be examples that back up the proposal?

"I feel much more informed as a result."

Brilliant.

And that's how children will be protected, by informing their parents not by giving people false impressions that their children will be safe with the magic filters.

Rockhound Tue 15-Feb-11 19:38:32

BadgerPaws I can not think of a PC based filter that can not also be worked around by a tech savy and determined child. Neither can I think of one that is perfect at blocking all porn effectively and not blocking innocent sites. In fact, I know of a very simple way of working around any filter someone puts on a PC, and the PC moderator would probably not have a clue.

However, something beyond the PC based filter is needed to cope with other web-enabled devices now coming into the home, including wifi mobiles, wifi TV's, blu-ray players, games consoles and probably others.

For these devices there simply is not a device level option (that I know of).

Also, I do not think it is suggested that the government regulates or decides what is pornography or not. Again, do not most PC level filters do this, so why can't that kind of system and list be employed with in a non-device level system? I don not want government censorship (aside from he illegal), or regulation within this.

As someone else pointed out earlier (or elsewhere - I wish I could remember) there is already a pretty good definition of what is pornography to work with.

And anyway - no one would force anyone to use the ISP filter if it were available.

As for the TalkTalk filter, this was a labs test page / product in development thing, so can not be taken as the complete product, which could well be more flexible than the 10 sites or so. I am still waiting for more information from them.

KaliLoki Tue 15-Feb-11 19:40:21

"There are always going to be parents who are not as conscientious though and perhaps it is these children the government want to try to protect. Is there anything that can be done at all?"

Do you think an ISP based filter would achieve this? Really? All the parents will have to do is phone up and say, "I'd like to opt out please?" and it's back to square one.

Your only options for those kinds of parents are
a) block the internet in it's entirety
b) not allow anyone registered as having children under the age of 18 to opt out.

Do you think either of these is a good idea?

KaliLoki Tue 15-Feb-11 19:42:09

"As someone else pointed out earlier (or elsewhere - I wish I could remember) there is already a pretty good definition of what is pornography to work with."

Ok then.. define it.

In terms that a computer can understand, and terms that cannot be anything else.

PlentyOfParsnips Wed 16-Feb-11 08:16:01

'However, something beyond the PC based filter is needed to cope with other web-enabled devices now coming into the home, including wifi mobiles, wifi TV's, blu-ray players, games consoles and probably others.'

Rockhound - have a look at NetworkGuy's idea here.

BadgersPaws Thu 17-Feb-11 10:48:40

"BadgerPaws I can not think of a PC based filter that can not also be worked around by a tech savy and determined child."

If a computer is locked down properly and children don't have admin rights to it then it becomes substantially trickier to get around any filtering software installed upon it.

And as to consoles or other gadget well if any gadget didn't allow some way of turning off or controlling the internet access then I would never allow a child uncontrolled access to it.

The main issue is that getting around ISP level filtering will be incredibly easy for an even slightly determined child. Home filtering is trickier and also controls all the other potentially dangerous uses of the internet that the proposed ISP filtering doesn't even begin to touch.

So why bother with the chocolate fire guard? Especially when the chocolate fire guard would put people off the proper solution to the problem.

"Again, do not most PC level filters do this, so why can't that kind of system and list be employed with in a non-device level system?"

PC level filters fall under my control and I can decide how strong/paranoid to make the filtering. So for a younger child's account I can block the internet completely, a slightly older one might have a white list of very child friendly web sites, a teenager might have talk programs enabled and finally my account can do anything. And that level of control is utterly impossible with ISP level filtering.

"And anyway - no one would force anyone to use the ISP filter if it were available."

It is proposed that the default is "on", and anyway saying that no one is used to force an expensive and futile system is no excuse for the system being expensive and futile.

roundtheoldoaktree Tue 22-Feb-11 14:40:44

This sounds to me like it is purely a way of monitoring those who indicate they may wish to view porn in the privacy of their own home if they 'opt in'. I guess many people would be embarassed to opt in, even if they weren't actually intending on viewing porn specifically, but had no real objection to having the option open to them.

This kind of censorship or spying, makes me furious, it is so ridiculous. We live in an age where we have unprecedented access to information, why do we have to spoil this by focussing in on soemthing like porn....could we opt in/out of access to sites with extreme political views? Where does it end?

To me it is simple, try to educate your child, don't let them have unsupervised access to the internet, monitor their usage and speak to them if you don't like something you can see in the history. In spite of all of this, you are not with them 24/7 and you cannot control what they have access to; but don't try and treat adults like children to compensate for this.

It is a breach of our privacy and liberty to have to declare if we wish to have the option to browse porn, or not, as the case may be.

AmyK1 Fri 25-Feb-11 11:58:03

Agreed - this is an issue so important to me as a parent. It's becoming almost impossible to protect your children from porn online as they get older. Mumsnet please support this campaign.

AmyK1 Fri 25-Feb-11 12:00:38

BTW I meant agreed with the campaign idea, not with roundtheoldoaktree. I'm sure that any little embarrassments on the part of adults is a small price to pay to help protect children, and to make it easier for parents to do so.

Anyway, the anonymity is what makes it so easy for people to access violent and extreme pornography on the internet - maybe the idea that it's not a secret will make them think twice.

AmyK1 Fri 25-Feb-11 12:02:21

Roundtheoldoaktree "It is a breach of our privacy and liberty to have to declare if we wish to have the option to browse porn, or not, as the case may be." And it's not a breach of my privacy and liberty to have extreme pornography available in my home against my will?

PlentyOfParsnips Fri 25-Feb-11 12:06:55

Have you actually read the thread, Amy? Or any of the other threads where the techy people are pointing out all the reasons why ISP filtering is unworkable and a Generally Bad Idea? There doesn't seem to be any disagreement that Something Must Be Done, but this is not the right Something.

PlentyOfParsnips Fri 25-Feb-11 12:07:58

Use your own parental filters, Amy - they work far better than any ISP level filter possibly could.

NetworkGuy Fri 25-Feb-11 13:32:04

... and they can be tailored to the changing needs of a family.

Amy - I would urge you to read the discussions (it may need a few hours to go through them here on this thread, and in the Site Stuff thread 'recent decision by MNHQ')

MNHQ put a web page online (the day Ed Vaizey had a webchat) which indicated support of the outline for ISP-based blocking, and was invited to the first 'round table' discussion with other organisations and ISPs about the proposed blocking of porn at ISP level, just a week later.

Having seen the Campaigns page, with this policy getting support from MNHQ, I looked at the lengthy thread [the one we are on] where arguments against that proposal went into some significant detail as to why it is not the best way (and no, that does not mean, as some have suggested, that anyone who is against the proposal is in favour of porn, but can see flaws in the proposal).

I started the thread in Site Stuff, to alert others, particularly those who may be aware of the idea being floated back in November/December but who may not know the shortcomings of the proposed method.

After a few days of discussion, some of the points were picked up by Justine, but even then, things were quite hazy as to what should or should not be considered as 'forbidden fruit' - I quote "Maybe the bar should be set at very hardcore porn."

Filtering can be got around, and the teens (and younger) today can mostly run rings around their parents. If what they do is being logged that's one way to determine if they are attempting to avoid filters etc.

But it surely comes back to having a frank discussion about how some of the material online is not intended for youngsters to view, and there would still be a high degree of disgust if they found their adult children were interested in porn, violence, etc.

If it is blocked, then some whizz kid will find a way, someone else may have an unencrypted wireless router that allows teenagers access via their smart phones, or laptops or whatever.

It's simplistic to assume that blocking porn at every ISP will happen, as there will always be methods to avoid the filtering.

However, far more important is that by laying down infrastructure at the ISP (which could be very costly and the bill will not be paid by the government but customers), there is then an easy way to block other sites, such as Wikileaks, or a human rights site that campaigns against some future UK governments 'iron grip' (1984-style) over the populace.

Yes, it could be classed as the realm of sci-fi, but we already have the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which can force ISPs to divert a stream of internet traffic to government monitoring services under the 'possible terrorist' umbrella. The ISP is not allowed to divulge whether such 'black boxes' are even active, nor who is being monitored, but in theory, all traffic for a household could already be under scrutiny, and anyone telling the members of that household would themselves be liable to arrest and detention.

One ISP moved their mail servers overseas and encouraged users to ask at intervals whether there were any black boxes active. If there was an answer in the negative, we could rest easy. If there was no answer at all, then we had to reach the obvious conclusion, that the boxes were active and the ISP gagged from acknowledging it. So we're not in a society free to do what we want, and ISP-based filtering would be a massive drop in keeping what liberties we still have from being abused at some future time on a government 'whim'. They could no doubt enact legislation which would remove the 'opt out' and increase the scope of sites which could be included, and then where would we be... oh yes, in a similar position to a massive Far Eastern country which had tanks go through a main square in the capital and now has whitewashed it from its history as if it never happened.

phales30 Thu 21-Apr-11 11:20:47

Silly Snorbs. You're saying and doing exactly what the pornographers want you to. I suspect that a large number of them actually want young teenagers to be exposed to hardcore porn, because: a) this increases the potential for the further spread of porn addiction, b) this is part of a wider normalisation of porn which is their obvious aim, and c) much pornography itself is based around the idea of hyper-sexualised and abnormally precocious teenagers. There is far more going on here than 'free expression'. The porn industry is involved in a campaign to fundamentally alter and distort our society and our culture, so as to further increase their profits and more widely propagate their grotesque view of the world.

At present we have a situation in which whole generations of children are being exposed in some way or another to hardcore pornography. They are either coming into contact with it directly, or else it is having an effect on their peer group and the culture that they share with their peers. The current system of parental filters is clearly not working, and something far more rigorous is needed.

The basic fact is that parental filters do not always work. There are ways in which they can be circumvented, either inadvertently or on purpose. Most current ISPs also require their customers to buy additional software if they want to block porn sites, and this software can be expensive. Why should parents have to shoulder the cost and the responsibility for protecting their children?
This is like arguing that sexually explicit images are acceptable on advertising billboards in the street, and that parents who want to protect their children from seeing them should buy them special glasses to wear when they are out and about.

A further problem is that certain parents may not set up their computers to block porn, for whatever reason, leaving their child to gain easy access to it. This then leads to that child possibly passing content to others, and so on.

If children can access porn through file sharing sites, then they should be blocked from accessing those sites too. If adults want their children to be able to share files over the internet, then there should be exclusive childrens' file sharing sites on which they can do so - properly monitored and regulated.

The basic fact is that we need to establish a society in which it is extremely difficult for a child to come into contact with online pornography, and highly unlikely that they will ever do so. We should use whatever means at our disposal to make this situation a reality - filtering by ISPs at source, parental filtering, etc. We should all be united to bring about a situation in which no child, if at all possible, ever turns on their phone or opens an email or clicks on a weblink and is suddenly presented with the sort of degraded and degrading material that floats around the internet unchecked today. All considerations of 'freedom of expression' or 'censorship' should be utterly secondary to this aim.

NetworkGuy Tue 19-Jul-11 21:16:19

Channel 4 has just started series 5 of the Sex Education Show, this time from Redborne School, with a piece about what teens have seen which rather shocks the parents.

Good to see the show pushed parents as needing to discuss porn and getting more aware of parental controls and moving computers out of bedrooms.

NetworkGuy Tue 19-Jul-11 21:25:47

All considerations of 'freedom of expression' or 'censorship' should be utterly secondary to this aim.

So you'd accept the "Chinese method" where brute force is used to block sites (yet despite their attempts, they still don't manage to block every site they deem unsuitable).

If you would allow some body (IWF ?, Government ?) to block sites (on a whim, perhaps, in the case of the IWF) then it's not a society I would wish to live in, and far from being a step safer for youngsters, it would be one step away from having the thought police, totalitarian "big brother" situation where any opposition to the ruling party could be wiped from history, not just the internet. Freedom of the press would have gone, too..

confidence Fri 22-Jul-11 02:19:41

Ell11,

I'm just speaking personally but I don't want my girls going out with boys who have high demands of them sexually because they have "seen how it's done" on the Internet.

What makes you think that they will?

I dunno I must admit I agree with a lot of what SGB has said. There seems to be a presumption behind a lot of this about all the terrible effects that seeing porn must have on adolescent boys, when there's no evidence of it having such an effect. Every piece of supposed "evidence" I've ever seen has been woefully unscientific and in most cases, clearly serving a pre-decided agenda (religious, conservative, radical feminist etc.)

And there's plenty of evidence to the contrary - like studies that showed that after the explosion in availability of porn videos in American and Denmarks in the 70s and 80s, rates of sexual crime actually went DOWN. Which makes sense in some ways, when you think about it.

The anti-porn presumption seems to also ignore the gigantic elephant in the room: the idea that before widespread porn came along, everybody had good, "moral", "healthy" sex within committed relationships and made Jesus happy. Like there were no married women who never had an orgasm in their lives because their husbands didn't have a fuckin clue of course...

I suspect part of the problem is that women largely have no understanding of how sexuality works for men (that's not a criticism - just a fact, and I'm sure the opposite is equally true), and fail to understand how compartmentalised these things can be. Relationships are complex things that people go into for all kinds of reasons, sex being only one of them. The experience of looking at porn is simply different from the experience of being with another person.

I sometimes wonder how the nature of porn use (and thus production) would develop if all the guilt and assumption and fear were dropped. Like I wonder how horny people get when they live on nudist colonies. There must come a point where you just go "meh..."

NetworkGuy Fri 22-Jul-11 03:49:45

"What makes you think that they will?"

Given the high number of teens who have seen porn, there's a pretty good possibility. How do you pre-screen the boys to be sure they've not seen porn?

Explaining how so much of the porn online does not match 'real life' is something they were suggesting on C4, after showing some parents some very explicit porn... After all, it's a long way from a regular boy/girl relationship to have 3 M + 1 F "going at it", same for the other clips that were shown (not to TV viewers).

I think some of the best information (to educate, and perhaps [hopefully?] put the brakes on) was showing teenagers the effects of STIs.

confidence Fri 22-Jul-11 11:19:23

Sorry networkGuy, I probably didn't put that clearly. I realise any teenage boys she goes out with are likely to have watched porn. What I meant was, "What makes you think they will have high demands of her sexually because of it?". This fear seems to imply an assumption about a specific way that porn must always affect peoples' behaviour, and I don't think that assumption has really been examined.

I don't really get the "not matching real life" thing either. Real life is incredibly varied, and people are into different things. Pretty much everything that happens in porn is something that someone, somewhere is into - indeed it must be for it to have an audience.

But no one piece or genre of porn pretends to speak for the whole of human sexuality. People erect a strawman by pretending that it does. The fact that there is plenty of anal porn doesn't mean people are going to "expect" that a particular individual likes it, any more than than the widespread availability of hamburgers leads us to expect that everyone likes them.

NetworkGuy Fri 22-Jul-11 12:15:20

While no-one should expect everyone to enjoy everything, the simple fact is that after a few drinks, the "no means NO" message is unlikely to matter to bunch of immature young 'studs' so if they have seen a gang-bang and all manner of activities, and consider them "the norm" (despite some being liked by a tiny portion of women), the odds are some young women may be expected to do things which they may have no wish to do. Yes, it would amount to assault, rape or similar, but seeing (done easily, and free) the 'extremes' (aka variety), could cloud judgement over what is acceptable, and/or expected.

I agree that life is varied, but in terms of some of the less common activities that may have been seen, is likely not to be seen as a 'specialist interest' but as 'normal'. Where you and I may disagree on is that bit about hamburgers, and the (immature) male incomprehension that it is not something this girl wants to do, and the emotional blackmail that might be used to get it from the girl.

confidence Fri 22-Jul-11 12:23:56

Sure, that's all possible. It's a reasonable speculation.

It's just that one could also come up with plenty of other speculations that are equally possible and reasonable (such as boys actually finding it easier to go out with girls who don't feel ready for sex, because they can satisfy themselves with porn instead). And there's no basis for believing that your speculation is the way things actually play out in reality.

NetworkGuy Fri 22-Jul-11 21:46:51

It's not my speculation, by the way, just that of whomever put together the piece for the TV.

With the way the internet has been changing in the last say 3-5 years, almost any studies would easily be out of date because 'content' and ability to access it is probably significantly easier in every 6 month period than it was in the previous months, because of changes to mobile phones, addition of 'tablets' etc, etc (even if the iPad doesn't have easy access to Flash or Windows Media Player [perhaps], there will be plenty of other methods to view the web such as games consoles etc).

NetworkGuy Fri 26-Aug-11 02:46:00

> UK Parliamentary inquiry into possibility of blocking websites <

MNHQ - if you see this please consider providing input to the inquiry.

You've previously accepted there are issues over
'who decides' and
'how would blocking work' and
'parents need more education'

and I hope the lengthy threads arguing against blocking (partly as impractical and partly as false sense of [parental] security) don't need to be repeated.

ISPreview article in link above seemed pretty balanced about the main objections, without going into the lack of impartiality concerning the chair of this inquiry!

spiderslegs Fri 26-Aug-11 03:05:49

Eeek - I expected to disagree with you Network - I hate thye idea my son could access all manner of vileness - horrid.

spiderslegs Fri 26-Aug-11 03:06:14

Hate the idea.

NetworkGuy Fri 26-Aug-11 13:04:40

Unfortunately 'all manner of vileness' is easily available via the internet. I'm not in any way promoting free access, but worried that attempts to block, widely regarded as relatively easy for teens to work around, would give parents a belief it 'cannot be done' when it is easy.

While Government is saying they want to slim down central government and get more 'local' decisions, what could be more 'local' than a parent taking control over what is and isn't available in the household, yet there is now discussion about mandating some 'block list' (with no clarity on what organisation controls the list) and for ISPs to use such a list of 'banned sites' as a part of their filtering out of sites, at ISP [therefore customer] cost.

Far from this being voluntary, so some ISPs like 'SO internet' (which offers a 'clean' feed for customers) could offer filtering and others be for 'adults only' (!) the ISPs will be expected to comply, or legislation may be brought in to force them. This is a massive waste of time and money, as anyone with a will to avoid the filters will get around them (including teens, who will pass on the information to others, running rings around parents, as is usual when it comes to technology).

Further, it's a slippery slope from banning porn and violence to banning political dissent sites or anyone the government of the day decides is not to be tolerated. It has already happened in Australia, where a 'block list' was implemented and had a variety of businesses included...

NetworkGuy Thu 05-Apr-12 07:13:09

There's > yet another proposal to force ISPs to filter internet content < (and link to AAISP's MD Adrian "Reverend" Kennard's Blog about why filtering won't work)

Acekicker Tue 10-Apr-12 19:36:07

On a related note, did anyone else do the MN survey about 'public wifi' - some extremely 'interesting' defintions about what is 'family friendly'...

NetworkGuy Thu 03-May-12 14:06:32

MPs from opposition and governing sides are still technically challenged or don't accept that Ofcom and the minister have been told it is impractical to attempt. There's another article > here <

There are others who think that they can force use of the .xxx top level domain suffix for porn sites. Didn't they ever come across descriptions of the internet which include "anarchy" ?

I know the (last) French President was advocating legislation and the USA throws its weigh around when it can (in requesting extradition for anyone merely using a domain name under American billing or hosting, even if the individual has never set foot on the US homeland).

There's simply no way to restrict "porn" sites or sites with descriptions or video of violence into some backwater that can be "blocked" easily, (a) because there are already tens of thousands using .com etc and the .xxx name may have already been registered [by a competitor] and (b) because by the nature of their 'unlawful' thinking (ignoring moral and other objections) the owners will simply give a two finger salute if asked, and may live in other countries where there can be no enforcement of a UK "idea" (or rather "wish"!!!).

Freedom of speech gets used as a defence by US firms peddling porn and nothing some dumb UK MP says will override that constitutional "right" for an American in a US court. No way to compel them from this side of the Atlantic, so the ISPs are the "soft target" and they (ISPs) know attempts are doomed to fail.

NetworkGuy Thu 03-May-12 14:13:12

Found a recent blog article about the Daily Mail and its anti-porn stance... > here <

NetworkGuy Sun 17-Jun-12 19:15:51

I know this is an old thread, but just recently spotted that OpenDNS offers their "FamilyShield" free for personal use. See their web page... > www.opendns.com/home-solutions/parental-controls/ <

NetworkGuy Mon 02-Jul-12 22:58:03

Acekicker - just wondered if you could remember where that public wi-fi survey was, as I did try to find it but couldn't.... ( unless someone from MNHQ can link to it, please ).

Consuelaa Tue 11-Sep-12 21:01:07

I agree with the people who said it's not a good idea and may not work or be difficult to implement.

There are so many porn sites (professional and free) so how can we possibly block them all (without blocking non-porn material). And what about websites which have nudity in a non-sexual context (eg medical websites)?

Even if there were no porn sites people could still share porn with torrents or file sharing software. People could upload porn to file-hosting websites then share the links on message boards. Or people could email porn to each other.

People can use proxies or VPNs to circumvent blocks. (for example thepiratebay has been blocked in the UK but there is nothing to stop Brits to access it through a proxy).

And even if the internet were to cease to exist people could just trade porn on memory sticks or DVDs.

My point is there is always a way. Bans don't work people will just find a way around them. IMO some people enjoy finding a way around bans it makes them feel clever and something which is banned may become a "forbidden fruit" and seem even more naughty and desirable.

Ouma Wed 14-Nov-12 16:42:50

OK this is a very late response to this old thread, but I looked for this earlier and didnt find it, and started a thread earlier today asking if anyone knew of an ISP that filtered at source. Two of the MNs above refer to such ISPs above Snorbs and David51. Please can you tell me who they are? I have a teenage son who has learned how to bypass our very mild effective filter (K9 - I recommend for parents with younger children on a shared computer) and is in danger of becoming addicted to porn. It is a huge, unreported problem amongst young men, and I need to protect my son. I’m not in favour of legislation to curb porn but I think a lot of MNs have yet to come across this problem and they don’t have teenage boys who skip school and are at home alone during the day = big problem.

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