recent decision by MNHQ

(508 Posts)
NetworkGuy Wed 02-Feb-11 23:33:00

Please, MNHQ, do have a read of this thread and consult your Tech people so they can give you the answers as to whether your support for this campaign and the Minister's plans are worth going on with.

I would hope you not only reverse your position but assuming you get sufficient technical reasoning in 'Plain English', that you go public and explain how unworkable the proposal is likely to be. I feel sure journalists at Computer Weekly and Computing will be able to provide confirmation that filtering is a hiding to nothing and can be very costly because of the millions of GB of data flowing through the bigger ISP networks.

For anyone baffled, and wondering if I'm a nut case, this concerns a proposal to get ISPs to "filter out" all porn, unless a customer "opts in". For numerous technical reasons the idea is never likely to achieve filtering without blocking access to legitimate sites or not blocking access to better than say 95% reliable, thus making it a costly exercise in futility, while parental vigilance and filtering software at the home would still be essential for peace of mind.

(Incidentally the wording of the campaign page implies the parents need to ask, at the same time as someone wanting not to have censored content needs to ask - it is one or other, but not both that would need to contact ISP. )

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 11:38:27

Not sure about Vodafone, but 3 had/have something similar in place, I had to opt in (similar to this plan it was treated very much as, "so you want to look at porn do you?")

Want to know what I was attempting to look at? An eating disorder support site.

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 11:41:04

Got an absolute shit ton to do today (including finding out if one of my pets survive having their tumour removed) but I may try and write up a summary of the points against this for those who aren't too great with tech later. I'll also try and write up about the alternatives.

There are more holes in this idea than in fishnets.

Eleison Thu 03-Feb-11 11:42:51

That wd be very helpful Kaloki. As Lenin says, if this idea isn't a good one then we need to know what (if anything) will work. I guess the ultimate solution will be multiple? Belts, braces, buckles, and bootstraps?

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 11:43:18

What I'm really concerned about is, as far as I was aware, MN usually post to find out the general consensus before taking on a campaign and go with the majority. The only thread I saw on it, doesn't support this.

Eleison Thu 03-Feb-11 11:45:14

I think they need to allow themselves more freedom to campaign in their own name. Mumsnet Limited or whatever. Claiming to be speaking for a usership isn't working.

LeninGrad Thu 03-Feb-11 11:45:44

But the initial meeting is with the ISPs, I'm sure more info will come from that.

maryz Thu 03-Feb-11 11:47:29

Yes I agree with that last point Kaloki - I didn't even realise this was a mumsnet campaign.

Another point (from a totally non-techie person), I think if this comes in parents will have even less interest in watching what their kids do online - they will simply say "oh the ISP provider is blocking unsuitable sites". They won't look to see what is slipping through, and I'm sure kids will find a way to opt-in without technophobe parents finding out.

So such a system can do more harm than good, in my (very uneducated) opinion.

Snorbs Thu 03-Feb-11 11:49:24

Vodafone is doing it using Bluecoat kit as noted above. Bluecoat uses site ratings that it investigates itself albeit partly based on user reports. You, as the network provider, then pick which of the various ratings to allow or disallow. You also choose to do a blanket allow or disallow for any sites that Bluecoat hasn't got round to rating. As I noted above, Vodafone's Bluecoat system would block grown-up, non-porn sites such as lovehoney and b3ta. But it would apparently allow 4chan(!)

I've used Bluecoat kit in a business context and it tends to rather unreliable in its definitions of what is acceptable and what isn't. Its basic lists are right at least 90% of the time but it is also easily circumventable. The same issues apply to all ISP-level filtering systems.

There are ways of making it harder to circumvent but those ways also run the risk of blocking lots of other legitimate network services. Eg, one of the ways we set up to avoid Bluecoat being circumvented (by blocking traffic that looked like a VPN) also happened to block Skype from working.

That was workable in a business environment as we had strict acceptable-use clauses and a user base who didn't have legitimate needs to access anything other than business sites. We also had a sizeable tech team to work on them. But those kinds of issues aren't appropriate in a home context.

LeninGrad Thu 03-Feb-11 11:51:48

Oh right sorry, thanks, I did read that and then forgot again.

Surely with a bit of willingness and thought a workable solution can be found. It may not be perfect but something could be done. There was a time when everyone though email would die under the weight of spam but solutions have been found.

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 11:53:57

Actually, I think the solution is pretty simple. Though not hugely popular as it means people taking some responsibility instead of expecting someone else to do it for them.

I also think this solution works out cheaper - free CD's of filtering software to all households (open source software for example), with maybe a centralised database of known porn sites - possibly maintained by an official body (if that makes people feel better). That then means that everyone can add in their own tweaks if need be.

- Which solves the problem of people thinking different things are inappropriate.
- It also takes the strain off the servers, which means that everyone's net connection doesn't suffer.
- It also means no extra cost to the user.
- It is also known to work, and isn't a big expensive risk with many technical flaws. grin

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 11:56:06

Snorbs Hang on.. back up.. it allows 4chan???? Wha???

maryz Yes, I think it will mean more people not supervising their kids (possibly from younger ages) and then blaming the ISP's because they couldn't be bothered to actually parent their kids.

maryz Thu 03-Feb-11 11:57:14

Unfortunately though Kaloki, you still have the problem of parents who either can't be arsed or are technologically incapable of installing the filtering software.

Basically, this proposal (it seems to me) seeks to protect childen despite their parents inability/unwillingness to do so - bypassing the parents, if you like.

It won't work - but free software won't work either.

maryz Thu 03-Feb-11 11:58:46

No wonder there hasn't been any leglislation around this - it's insoluble isn't it sad. Like a lot of child-protection issues really.

NetworkGuy Thu 03-Feb-11 12:00:22

So how come Vodafone can do that for phones...

1) I suspect they know which 'short codes' (the 5 digit numbers used for texts) are carrying invitations to porn sites simply by logging those web links and doing some checks

2) the numbers of customers using mobiles for internet access may approach 50% overall but my guess is the load is far lighter than for the bulk of home serving ISPs.

I don't have the numbers to hand but in October 2007 (from ISPreview.co.uk, searching for 'market share')

The top 6 ISPs - BT, Virgin Media, The Carphone Warehouse (AOL, TalkTalk), Tiscali (Pipex), Orange and BSkyB (Sky TV), now account for 94% of the retail broadband market.

The broadband retail market is roughly 50% of households, or approx 30 million people.

TalkTalk has bought Tiscali, Freedom2Surf and owns Opal (serving business customers primarily). In November they had 4.25 million "talk and broadband" customers, while Sky has 3.1 million broadband users.

Unlike Vodafone internet users, these connections are more likely to be "always on" and downloading could be any time from 0800 to 0800 next day in a family situation, while a mobile phone user will perhaps check a few sites for an hour or so, when not working/ eating/ sleeping

Sorry, slight hi-jack, Kaloki how do you opt in on 3? Do you have to ring them? I have a blog account that's (self)rated NC-17 and I can't access it on my phone, but I can't see how to change it.

FWIW, I find the idea of a blanket ban discomforting, for all the reasons above. I dislike the idea of being labelled as a 'porn user' in order to access adult rated web sites. I would worry that people on that kind of list were opening themselves up to some Big Brother style additional scrutiny.

Motherfunster Thu 03-Feb-11 12:03:08

I wrote this earler but my conection went down ,the ironey..

Proper filtering would require the classification of material found on the internet.

That’s a bit of a massive undertaking. It is estimated that around 30,000 police are employed in China in censoring the internet. And people still manage to get round it.

The private sector involved with internet providing could not afford to do this in this country. The only body in this country with the means to do this would be the government.

Its not so much should you or shouldn’t you filter the internet, it’s just that when it comes down to it, you cant, unless you slow everything down and turn off big chunks.

Lenin, Iv got a feeling the phone filtering is probably awful plus kids dont usealy do there homework on a mobile phone.

Kalok like the idear of the free cd.

I think mumsnet is throwing its back behind something both almost imposable in theory and political in practice.

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 12:03:15

The problem is this solution wont help those kids either, as their parents are more likely to opt out totally anyway and still not censor what their kids see.

Unless they are going to refuse to let anyone registered as having kids in the house opt out?

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 12:05:22

MrsDimitri You have to phone them, possibly using 333, but I cannot remember what exactly - do remember it being a frustratingly long process.

maryz Thu 03-Feb-11 12:07:20

Yep exactly - that's what I was trying to say earlier blush, but very unclearly!

The parents who won't/can't use parental controls are the ones who won't/can't stop their children bypassing anything they like.

KalokiMallow Thu 03-Feb-11 12:09:11

Quite, so all this will do is make it a pain for those who want to use the net their own way.

What isn't being thought of is, yes we could opt out of the filtering, but we couldn't opt out of the higher prices and slower access.

lessnarkypuffin Thu 03-Feb-11 12:09:19

I am bloody angry that MN is supporting this.

It's a pathetic attempt by the coalition to get mothers on side. It's knee-jerk and there are there a shedload of technical issues with it. There isn't broad support on MN for this.

It is Mary Whitehouse style reactionary bullshit.

Thank you smile

NetworkGuy Thu 03-Feb-11 12:12:09

Hey, calm down lessnarkypuffin - they weren't first (a {Labour} Culture, Media + Sport Minister came up with just as unworkable a solution, rating individual pages!)

lessnarkypuffin Thu 03-Feb-11 12:21:22

I am not flavour biased when it comes to loathing cheap attempts to gain favour by political groups. They all do it.

I loathe the presumption that we're so easy to win over. But apparently we are MNHQ!

snorbs - sort of on topic - but not quite - but you may be able to help me. As I've seen you mention Windows Live Family Safety. Which is great on my laptop Windows 7

However, - problem is that the PC runs on XP.....and it doesn't appear to work on there.

Are there any other similar alternatives. Currently have a different filter on the PC (can't remember which one - had it on there ages) but would really like something for multiple computers in the same household with remote access - like Windows one

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