Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Censorship

Why Doesn't the IWF Notify Those Whom They Block? 203

Posted by kdawson
from the silence-nothing-but-silence dept.
Frequent Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes "What if the IWF notified site owners when it added their content to the UK's national 'child pornography' blacklist? Besides the blocking of the Virgin Killer cover art on Wikipedia, we don't know how many mistakes there might be on the IWF's list. But we would have a better idea, if content owners were notified of the IWF's determination and had the opportunity to challenge it publicly." Read on for Bennett's analysis.

The chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, which maintains a list of sites allegedly containing child pornography which are then blocked by most U.K. Internet providers, recently declared that the organization had erred in blocking the Virgin Killer poster art on Wikipedia. But Peter Robbins also called it "one mistake in twelve years" and said that "[t]here are a lot of very credible people on our board, and we want to give assurance that there is independent oversight on what we do." The issue of "oversight" raises a question that I don't think received enough attention during the Wikipedia block controversy: Why doesn't the IWF notify domain owners or hosting companies when it blocks their content?

If an image is a borderline case, such as the album cover that was hosted on Wikipedia, then IWF could notify the hosting company that they had determined that the image could be illegal under U.K. law. If the host — in this case, Wikipedia — disagreed, they could provide arguments to the contrary and possibly change the IWF's mind, which is what in fact happened once Wikipedia users eventually found out about the block anyway. On the other hand, if the image is very obviously illegal, then a notification to the hosting company might persuade them to take the image down. In that case, any argument against notifying hosting companies has to be weighed against the obvious good that would be done by removing the image from that location on the Web.

I sent this question to the IWF, which must get this inquiry a lot, since they replied with a form letter which stated in part:

Contacting international hosts of such content directly may undermine a police investigation, is contrary to our remit and is contrary to INHOPE best practice.

Well, saying that it is contrary to their remit or to INHOPE best practices, obviously just begs the question of why it is contrary to those "best practices"; I replied to ask that question but didn't receive a response, and INHOPE did not respond when I sent them the same question. So consider the only substantive reason given in the IWF's response, which is that notifying the host "may undermine a police investigation." This could hypothetically be true in some cases — if police are preparing to move in on a suspected child pornographer, but he finds out that his ISP has removed content from his account after a notification from the IWF, he might know that he's about to be caught, and delete any incriminating pictures from his hard drive.

But this reason makes no sense in the case of images such as the cover art on Wikipedia, where the content has been generally available in the host country for a long time, and the original content producers are publicly known and wouldn't be able to run for cover even if the local government did declare the image illegal. It also would not apply in a wide range of other situations where the creator of the content is known and admits to creating it. Consider the case of Dr. Marcus Phillips, who was convicted of producing child pornography after he was hired by the parents of two girls, age 10 and 12, to take semi-nude photos of the girls (with the parents present) that could be digitally manipulated and super-imposed to produce "fairy art." Suppose Dr. Phillips had posted his photos in a portfolio online. In cases where the person posting the content admits that they took the photos themselves, and the subjects of the photos are identifiable people with a connection to the photographer, then consider the two possibilities: either (1) The images are such that the police and the courts will ultimately determine that they are child pornography. In this case, you might as well notify the user and their hosting company that the images are being blocked by the IWF, because even if this "tips off" the guilty user, they won't be able to destroy the evidence by erasing their hard drive, because the existence of the image is enough to incriminate them. Or, (2) The police and courts decide that the images do not constitute child pornography, in which case they should not have been blocked at all. In either situation, there's no rationale for the IWF to block the content without notifying the content owners. So why wouldn't the IWF notify the hosts in such cases — when the content creator is generally known, and admits to creating the content, and simply doesn't believe that it constitutes child pornography?

The elephant in the room is the obvious motivation that the IWF has for not notifying people when it blocks their sites: The IWF may be over-blocking such content, and doesn't want irate parties to complain when they find out that the IWF has mis-categorized their content as "child pornography." If several people came forward to say that the IWF had blocked, for example, their photographs of nudist children (which are not illegal), then it might undermine support for the IWF blacklisting system and for their mission in general. So by not telling people that their URLs are blocked, they minimize the number of people who find out and complain.

Perhaps the IWF does not over-block a lot of content, but the point is that we don't know. When Peter Robbins says the Wikipedia over-block amounted to "one mistake in twelve years," and adds, "Nobody in the years that we have been operating had any real reason to complain," there is no way of knowing if those statements are true, because any other mistakes made by the IWF are unlikely to have been brought to light, for two reasons. First, if a site or an image is blocked, most users are not going to realize what happened, since to them it simply appears that the remote server is not responding. Second, even if a user realizes that an image is blocked and the user knows that the image does not constitute child pornography, they may still be embarrassed to come forward and complain that they were visiting, say, a site full of nudist child photos or a porn site featuring adult models pretending to be mid-teen Japanese schoolgirls, and their favorite picture was blocked. The Wikipedia incident was probably a once-in-a-decade perfect storm of factors that led to the IWF having to retract a decision:
  • Wikipedia was popular enough that people quickly noticed the blocked content.
  • Wikipedia had the halo of legitimacy accorded to a popular research site; nobody had to feel dirty for admitting that they had been browsing it.
  • The image in question had been commercially available for a long time, and nobody had been arrested for selling or possessing it.
  • The image had a credible claim to artistic merit. Strictly speaking, "artistic merit" is not a defense against child pornography charges, but there is no unambiguous definition that can be used to determine if a given picture constitutes child pornography, and in a borderline case, a judge would probably be influenced by the fact that the photo was used as cover art for a "serious" album, and not seized from a darkroom in some creep's basement.

That last factor brings up a final irony: that the IWF, in labeling the Virgin Killer cover art as "child pornography," may have just been applying an objective standard that many people might not have disagreed with, if it hadn't been for the fact that the image was used as cover art for a rock album. Suppose you read a news article about a man who was arrested for possession of child pornography, and you happened to see a sample of the images (never mind how) that he was arrested for. And suppose the Virgin Killer album cover photo were been mixed in with those images. Would it have jumped out at you as an obvious case of over-reaching by the police? Would you speak out publicly, saying that even the guy should be prosecuted for the other images, he shouldn't be prosecuted for that one? (Again, ignoring the issue of how you happened to be looking at the photos in the first place, and assuming you couldn't get in trouble for that!) I doubt that I would have the nerve. By defending Wikipedia for hosting the same image, I'm guilty of a double standard. But would the IWF have agreed to un-block the image, if it hadn't been the cover art of an album, but instead had just been a grainy photo stuck in a sub-directory of someone's home page that they never intended to be made public? If not, then the IWF is guilty of a double standard too.

So not only do we not know how many mistakes are on the IWF's blacklist, it may be hard even to agree on an objective definition of a "mistake." But at least in cases where the content creator has already identified themselves — such as a public image on Wikipedia, or an image in a photographer's online portfolio — the IWF should notify people when it blocks their content. That would at least bring to light the cases where the content creator disagrees with the IWF's determination that their content constitutes child pornography. In some cases, such as the Wikipedia controversy, people would side with the content providers. In other cases, they wouldn't. But there's no reason to assume, as the IWF does when saying that Wikipedia represented "one mistake in twelve years," that in 100% of such cases, the courts and the police would side with the IWF's judgment.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Why Doesn't the IWF Notify Those Whom They Block?

Comments Filter:
  • by xbytor (215790) on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:37PM (#26931757) Homepage

    Post the blacklist so we can independently verify that they have not made any mistakes!

    • by Spazztastic (814296) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {citsatzzaps}> on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:39PM (#26931783)

      Post the blacklist so we can independently verify that they have not made any mistakes!

      Their argument will be "We don't want to publicly give out lists of this material to people who may use it for reasons other than verification!"

      They'll keep ducking no matter what.

      • by gnick (1211984) on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:45PM (#26931873) Homepage

        Worse than that - They may find themselves liable as accessories to a crime. I'm in the U.S. where, like in most places, viewing/possessing child pornography is a crime. If I were to verify one of the sites listed on the blacklist and it did, in fact, contain child porn, I'd be guilty of a crime. By providing me the link, the IWF may find themselves in hot water too. In court I may even be tempted to drag them in saying that, by providing the list, I felt an obligation to help them refine it. I never wanted to see those images - They pointed me to them and victimized me by encouraging me to view them.

        May be kind of far-fetched, but I dunno - IANAL.

        • by Skapare (16644)

          This issue can be worked around. People who get the list have to sign an agreement that they understand the implications of accessing the resources indicated on the list. No signing, no list. The law should also be adjusted such that anyone who does sign this agreement to get the list becomes immune to prosecution for a limited amount of access in order to verify the classification. It should also allow them to store any content they decide is disputable provided they post back to the IWF immediately th

          • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:14PM (#26932335)

            Yeah, all of that. Or, get rid of thought crimes. Abuse is the crime.

            • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

              by Ihmhi (1206036)

              To be fair, this is just part of Britain's economic stimulus package. The George Orwell estate and inheritors get a hefty licensing fee for the themes in some of his books that are being used by the government.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by EvilJoker (192907)

          I think a bigger concern for them is that it would prove disasterous for their case- their list of banned newsgroups, at least as far as anyone could identify, was CLEARLY not researched beyond a superficial check of the names, since they all had names suggesting child porn, but the users that checked found that every single one had been abandoned long ago, even by most spammers.

          With more mistakes coming to light, they wouldn't be able to charge for their list.

          • I think a bigger concern for them is that it would prove disasterous for their case- their list of banned newsgroups, at least as far as anyone could identify\

            Any adult related USENET groups gets CP related spam. Even the regular ones get hit with it. How about they attack the originating IP rather than banning an entire group?

          • by Verdatum (1257828)
            And Nothing of Value Was Lost.
        • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:08PM (#26932253) Journal

          Well, that just points out the obvious incompatibility between the concepts of blacklists and possession laws. The company can't verify a proposed submission because to do so would violate laws about viewing and possessing child porn, either, so you can probably assume that the majority of sites on the blacklist are bogus. Either that or the company is forced to violate the law to confirm the sites.

          Guess which of those two things must go away for society to function? Give you a hint: it isn't the blacklist. Possession laws are about as asinine as they get. They make illegal the legitimate screening of reported illegal content, they make reporting child porn that you accidentally discover on the Internet impossible without risking prosecution for possessing it (if only momentarily in your browser cache and RAM), and in general are fundamentally contrary to efforts to rid the Internet of child pornography. Any law that achieves the opposite of its stated goals is pretty clearly a fundamentally bad law...

          ...unless, of course, the members of Congress enjoy child pornography and passed laws like this to make it hard to eradicate so that they can enjoy it in the privacy of a secure government network with no logging.... You don't... like... child pornography, do you, Senator? Makes you wonder, doesn't it? :-D

          • by drspliff (652992)

            Well, in the states the PROTECT act of 2003 provides protection against prosecution for both the government agency that deals with this stuff AND to providers of services where a third party may upload offending material, I cant remember what the IWF's legal status is in the UK, but I'm sure they have some protected status which allows them to investigate, report and monitor stuff legally.

            The difference being that in the USA there's a way for ISPs to respond to and report it (which is encouraged, and depend

            • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday February 20, 2009 @03:01PM (#26933795) Journal

              The American laws may be better than the UK's train wreck, but they are far from sound. The reality is that if I stumbled upon something illegal through clicking the wrong link on Slashdot (for example), I couldn't necessarily report it without fear of prosecution; unlike ISPs, I don't have any guaranteed protection under the law. In fact, there was a reporter that got several years for investigating child porn a while back, so even the investigative media doesn't have protection from prosecution.

              See also: Larry Matthews [cnet.com]

              Sound? Hardly. The laws are a disaster, the courts' interpretation of them doubly so.

            • by dgatwood (11270) on Friday February 20, 2009 @03:04PM (#26933841) Journal

              Here's another, more recent story [counterpunch.org] about the same thing happening to a journalist just two years ago. In short, possession laws are still very much defecating on the freedom of the press.

        • by johnsonav (1098915) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:37PM (#26932615) Journal

          They may find themselves liable as accessories to a crime. I'm in the U.S. where, like in most places, viewing/possessing child pornography is a crime. If I were to verify one of the sites listed on the blacklist and it did, in fact, contain child porn, I'd be guilty of a crime. By providing me the link, the IWF may find themselves in hot water too.

          Easy way around that. Just have the IWF throw up a web page where you can type in a URL, and it'll tell you if that site is on the list. You don't have to give out the entire list to anyone. Everyone can check that their sites aren't being wrongfully blocked, without giving away the list of known CP sites.

          • by duguk (589689)

            Easy way around that. Just have the IWF throw up a web page where you can type in a URL, and it'll tell you if that site is on the list. You don't have to give out the entire list to anyone. Everyone can check that their sites aren't being wrongfully blocked, without giving away the list of known CP sites.

            I guarantee that someone *will* start brute forcing the site if this were to happen!

          • by Piranhaa (672441)

            Believe it or not, this is EXACTLY what I think the CRTC (up here in Canada, eh) should have done with their stupid DO NOT CALL LIST. If you don't know what I'm talking about, look here: http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/01/24/1312203 [slashdot.org] .

            Everyone that I've talked to, who has put their number on that list, has received an astounding greater number of phone calls. If I ever see the decision maker(s) in public... Let's just say they hope to never see me.

            All I can say is: F'ing ignorant people... What did

        • Well, I'm from Canada. I'm pretty sure everyone responsible for any large collection of computers is responsible for somehow "viewing or possessing child pornography." Seriously, you don't believe every single naked or sexual image of every girl on the internet is someone over 18?

          - What if you have two teenagers on your network exchanging pictures of each other?
          - How do you prevent any illegal activity from occurring on your network?
          - How do you tell how old someone is? Can you tell the difference bet

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by AndrewBuck (1120597)

        This is of course the obvious reason to not be forthcoming with the list, however there is an implicit admission in this statement. If their filtering technology was worth a damn and not easily circumvented, it wouldn't matter who got their hands on the list as the content is blocked anyway.

        Of course they are only responsible for blocking content in one country, or for one ISP, but what business is it of theirs if people use networks not under their jurisdiction to view material they are blocking for their

      • Also, posting child pornography is illegal. Posting the blacklists would be posting child pornography in all of the cases that are not borderline, and a percentage of those that are.
        • Indeed! I agree totally!

          It'd be like posting .torrent files on a website linking to unlicensed music or software! They're totally breaking the law!
  • Mistake? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279)
    The artwork for the Virgin Killer album was said to clearly fall under new UK child pornography laws. Therefore, while a law so restrictive that it makes old album covers illegal might be odious, how is it a mistake for the IWF to go along until such a law is overturned?
    • Re:Mistake? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Chyeld (713439) <chyeld.gmail@com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:00PM (#26932115)

      The mistake is in attempting to hide the fact that you've 'complied with the law'.

      Hidden censorship is the enemy of everyone but the censor. To say "these books are banned" at least provides the ability for someone to someday come along and argue the case that they shouldn't be. To simply and silently make the books disappear removes that.

      All use government power should have oversight, the government works on behalf of the people using powers accorded to it by the people. Abuse, deliberate or unintentional, should be watched for and corrected.

      That is why Google indicates when it's removed results from a search when it's complying with local laws.

  • Not gonna happen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:42PM (#26931815) Homepage

    Child porn is like terrorism: it's a free pass for the government to do just about anything they want to in the name of protecting us from it.

    • Agreed. I was about to say the same thing. When child porn is involved nearly all common sense is tossed aside.

  • It could be called the Open Internet Watch Foundation (OIWF) or something like that. The operating policy would involve openness and transparency to permit full review to ensure errors and controversy are properly dealt with, unlike the secretive IWF. This would ensure the higher level of quality of the blocking list. It can also may multiple categories of blocking more readily available.

    • LoL forming the greatest source of child porn on the planet. *user logs in to check there were no false positive* *browses 10,000 CP pics*
      • call it Wikipedophilia, where anyone can weigh in their opinion if an image/site should be classified as cp.
    • by Ash Vince (602485)

      In the case of the Virgin Killers album recently they did not "block" wikipedia, they proxied the entire site through their servers and returned a badly done 404 error for the offending page. This meant that all wikipedia edits appeared to come from one IP address and this is why it was noticed so quickly. Wikipedia automatically blocked that IP from creating new accounts as too many were created in a short space of time from that IP address so they assumed they were spam accounts. In this case the spam acc

  • by BSAtHome (455370) on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:45PM (#26931879)

    Generally, secret stuff does not withstand public scrutiny. If it could, then you would be able to hold some one or somebody responsible. But that is against the secret nature.

  • by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@@@notroswell...com> on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:51PM (#26931955) Homepage Journal

    If it undermines a police investigation, don't you think that as soon as the site is blocked, it might give them a clue the fuzz is on to them?

    In my opinion, it should be the police's job alone, and not the IWF and ISPs' job to police these sorts of pages. True, there are some horrendous images of children being abused out there—but if the IWF can't tell the difference between a Wikipedia image of album artwork and child porn, surely there's something wrong?

    If the police go after the pornographers, presumably they'll eventually find the servers and confiscate them—therefore, the stuff is taken off the net, and not with the sticking plaster of the IWF block. The contents of the pages also needs to be made public: only the text, however, because one can usually make a good guess at what's in images and video by looking at the text.

    If the text says, for example, 'Virgin Killers is an album by [X band]...' you can guess the page is going to be legit. If it says 'cum see the hottest ch1ld pr0n0 & k1ddi3 pix...' well... you can guess what's going to be in there.

    • True, there are some horrendous images of children being abused out there....

      I see this claim being made quite a lot. Can you give one shred of evidence that it is in any way true. Or at least, that these images exist in such dire volumes that we must all accept a near Soviet level of censorship on our internet connections?

      One shred of good evidence. That's all I'm looking for. Anyone have some?

      • I said some. Not in any way implying dire quantities.
      • One shred of good evidence. That's all I'm looking for. Anyone have some?

        Of course not... if anybody did, they'd be in jail for having it (and it would be confiscated and destroyed). So, by definition, you can't prove there's a good reason for the law to be enforced the way it is. And conversely, that means you can't prove that there isn't. Funny how that works, isn't it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dangitman (862676)

      If the text says, for example, 'Virgin Killers is an album by [X band]...' you can guess the page is going to be legit. If it says 'cum see the hottest ch1ld pr0n0 & k1ddi3 pix...' well... you can guess what's going to be in there.

      A 21-year-old porn actress doing boring generic porn, that's mislabeled in the hopes of grabbing attention?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Friday February 20, 2009 @12:51PM (#26931959) Journal
    Only a paedophile, or closet ally of paedophiles, would subject our laudable Safety and Security measures to the vile corrosion of reasoned criticism! Purity through Faith!
  • i understand the argument of some people here: the list can have errors, therefore, the list idea is bogus

    but this argument is ineffective: the list can be fixed. there can even be punitive damage costs delivered to anyone shown to be put on the list in error, which i would suggest, to make sure governments don't block carelessly. let a law be established where the government can me made to suffer dearly financially for blocking content that is deemed permissible in an open court of law. but what is not goi

    • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:04PM (#26932177)

      Is there is material you find objectionable, do not view it. The computer much like the television has an off switch.

      There is never a case for censorship, it is immoral in and of itself. To put down your head and just accept it is no different than accepting segregation or many other horrible things human societies have done in the past.

      If these people want to end child porn, a noble goal, let them submit reports to the police. The police can then seize the servers.

      • a dutch court of law finds a website to be serving up child pornography and deserves to be shut down. the police have been given full powers to shut down the webserver by any means necessary. the dutch political establishment, the press, and the popular majority are all for shutting down the site

        the webserver is located in moldova

        the moldovan government responds "we have reviewed your request and will advise you upon receipt of bribe, i mean, proper consideration for our request for tanks. i mean, ALL YOUR

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by h4rr4r (612664)

          No, you take this to an international court, and failing that you settle disputes between nations the time honored way, war.

          Censorship is immoral, no matter reason.

          • rather than censor it

            and you speak of morality?

            this term, "morality", i don't think you understand it

            best that you not talk any more about morality, until you have further matured and have gained a better understanding of the concepts involved

            for your sake, god i hope you are only 13 years old

            • by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday February 20, 2009 @02:32PM (#26933393)

              I am a slight bit older than that.

              Censorship is evil and never necessary, war is evil and sometimes necessary.

              Your idea of matured seems to be nothing more than decided to put your head down and accept your position and anything the government imposes.

              At least the war has the chance to actually stop this instance of spreading childporn, censorship merely ignores it.

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              I see you like logical fallacies, we call this one argumentum ad hominem.

              • point out my logical fallacy

                as for my ad hominem, i doubted that the person was older than 13 years old

                you'll notice he replied, and stated he was slightly older than that

                in other words, based on his faulty thinking, an inability to consider all of the concepts in play, demonstrating most probably an inexperience with all of the concepts, i suspected be was an immature person, and my suspicion was confirmed

                so there is no ad hominem attack, unless you are saying it is an insult or an attack to call someone a

                • by h4rr4r (612664)

                  It is indeed an insult to call someone a child. Also to continue do to so when I have both pointed out I have though about the issue and that I am not "immature" means that you are a troll.

                  To continue to exhibit this behavior indicates you are probably a child with an over important sense of self. An undergrad student most likely.

                  As an employed person I might have better things to do than be anal about my /. posts and talking to you.

                  Have a nice day, kiddo.

                  • didn't you just complain about ad hominem attacks?

                    the complaint only has validity if you don't engage in the behavior yourself

                    it's a rhetorical concept you should familiarize yourself with: "hypocrisy"

                    besides, it wasn't an insult. i doubted the guy was cognitively mature. he verified the suspicion. where's the ad hominem on my part?

                    an ad hominem implies an off subject smear of someone's character. i didn't smear anyone's character, and i wasn't off subject

                    • by h4rr4r (612664)

                      Ok idiot, I will type this slow, THIS IS THE SAME GUY. Look at the names.

                      You attacked the messenger instead of the message.

                      It was both off subject and pointless, since you are about as far from cognitively mature as one can be. Your only I am right argument is typical for dictators, common hoods and children.

                    • more ad hominem

                      in a complaint about ad hominem

                      what do you need me for?

                      yell at yourself

            • i hope you are only 13 years old

              I believe that is referred to as "grooming". We'll be round to graffiti your house shortly.

        • by genner (694963)
          Don't pick on Moldova they gave us that Numa Numa song.
      • by vidarh (309115)

        Is there is material you find objectionable, do not view it. The computer much like the television has an off switch.

        I agree with that sentiment most of the time, but a substantial amount of material that would be deemed child pornography is a record of abuse of the child. Allowing that material to be disseminated further victimizes that child. Irrespective of other arguments against child pornography which may or may not hold (I am not aware of any proof that availability of child pornography affects the

    • but this argument is ineffective: the list can be fixed. there can even be punitive damage costs delivered to anyone shown to be put on the list in error, which i would suggest, to make sure governments don't block carelessly. let a law be established where the government can me made to suffer dearly financially for blocking content that is deemed permissible in an open court of law.

      Important correction:
      The government as a whole would not care about the punitive damage, because they would just take it out o

      • that punitive decisions against the government are in actuality punitive decisions against the people. however, the government can and should and must suffer for doing the wrong thing, even though the eventual financial toll falls on the people. this is because the eventual toll for the government doing something wrong also falls on the people, so the people suffer no matter what happens

        furthermore, the news generated and the bad press of such a trial affects the current ruling party, so there is an interes

    • by u38cg (607297)
      Maybe a better idea, instead of pulling the wool over our eyes and pretending that now it's blocked, it's OK, would be to take down the damned servers. Go after them under local law. If you can't, get treaties signed. Sort it out. The IWF is worse than useless, however; it makes you think it's gone away, when in fact it is just out of sight.
      • the servers might be in another country

        that other coutnry might have no treaty obligations with you

        i've already bought this fact up to others in this thread, and they said well then go to war

        and the comment was modded insightful

        there are people who would rather go to war than just censor the damned server!

        that's either depressing or hilarious, this idea that you can't censor ANYTHING

        there are plenty of things you censor, for plenty of good reasons, according to the most liberal and libertarian of thinking

    • by Zemran (3101)

      The idea that the sight of a naked child is pornographic is completely stupid as is the idea that there is no child porn that needs to be dealt with. What is the way to deal with child porn? Why ban it? Are we really afraid that more people will come to like it? If not then we should not need to ban it as the obvious thing to do is to go and seize the server and arrest the owners. No ban required, deal with the problem. If it is in another country then log the traffic to find the customers etc. Deal

  • The Internet Watch Foundation's "Crapland" [today.com] child-friendly Internet theme park has gone bust after only three days.

    An information board at the entrance depicts the classical painting Smell The Glove by Scorpionaggio (courtesy National Portrait Gallery) and welcomes the visitor on a "flight of the imagination, travelling down the magical pathways that teenagers have used to get their porn for centuries," and which have been specially opened up for the lucky children invited to come. "Just like Michael Jacks

  • I'm the volunteer press person for Wikipedia who spoke to the press during the incident.

    One thing I didn't find out until Monday night (by which time the news cycle had ended): they blocked the page about the album, on en.wikipedia.org, and they blocked the page describing the image, on en.wikipedia.org ... but they didn't actually block the image itself, on upload.wikimedia.org.

    But then, large websites have only been using separate image and text servers since 1995, so we could hardly expect the IWF to be up with such developments.

    As well as blocking people from reading *encyclopedia text*, they *failed* to actually do the thing they were claiming to do: blocking the image.

    This brings up one point: there is no evidence whatsoever that they actually do the job they claim to. And there is this piece of evidence that they don't actually know how to. Hamfisted *and* incompetent.

    Could you follow up with a question as to how they managed to block text and not the actual image? I'd be fascinated to hear their explanation.

  • by EvilJoker (192907) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:01PM (#26932127)

    They claim it's the first mistake they've made- this is clearly false, and it isn't hard to find examples where they've been clearly wrong.

    It is, however, the first time that they've reversed their decision and admitted that they were wrong.

  • No, it doesn't "beg the question." It might raise the question, but it definitely doesn't beg the question.

    http://begthequestion.info/ [begthequestion.info]

    Get it right!

    • No, it doesn't "beg the question.

      I was going to press you on this, but then I found a counterexample [wikipedia.org] to your world view.

    • by vidarh (309115)
      English grammar isn't prescribed by a central authority - it changes with use, and the "raise the question" meaning is now so common that it has been added to some dictionaries. Likely it will replace the original meaning almost totally within a generation. Give it up.
  • Not the government.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by jamesmcm (1354379) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:11PM (#26932289)
    Many of the commenters here seem to think that this was government censorship, I would just like to clarify that the IWF is funded (and founded) by an independent consortium of ISPs and is not attached to the government in any way.

    The ISPs are just as panicky as the government about banning it so the story-hungry newspapers don't start a campaign against them. I think this just goes to show that you it isn't only the government censoring/filtering content, the corporations will do it too (albeit for different reasons).
    • by conureman (748753)

      I thought this consortium was designed to prevent the government from stepping in and instituting the usual measures to ruin everyone's life. (Except the "criminals" who will evolve a new generation of counter-measures and carry on as always with their unpopular activities.) This is merely one of the anticipated benefits of the program, brought to the public's attention.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by badfish99 (826052)

        No, this *is* the government stepping in. The ISPs would have done nothing were it not for threats from the government. And the IWF say they work "in partnership with" the Ministry of Justice. It is government in every respect except that there is no democratic control over it.

        • by conureman (748753)

          Umm... So this *is* the government in every respect except...
          Call me thick, the insight is not penetrating my cranial barrier.

  • So consider the only substantive reason given in the IWF's response, which is that notifying the host "may undermine a police investigation." This could hypothetically be true in some cases â" if police are preparing to move in on a suspected child pornographer, but he finds out that his ISP has removed content from his account after a notification from the IWF, he might know that he's about to be caught, and delete any incriminating pictures from his hard drive.

    Doesn't this only really make sense if there's some connection between the police investigation and being put on the list?

    Imagine if nobody was allowed to tell anybody "hey, I think what you're doing might be illegal". Because of course there's a chance that it really is illegal and that the police are investigating, and if the person told this decided "hey, you're right, I guess I'll stop", well, you've just interfered and prevented the investigation from succeeding.

    Maybe they just care more about persecuting people than they do about reducing unlawfulness...

  • In order for speech to be labeled Free, I don't believe it should be restricted. We of course, don't have any free societies on this planet, AFAIK. This is the tyranny of the majority, as outlawed by the U.S. Constitution, then democratically instituted by the ignorant masses. I realize TFA refers to GB Malarkey, it's the same as here, histrionics &c. used to promote government bloat, if not also the usual Black Helicopter stuff.

  • ...why it is contrary to those "best practices"

    And exactly what ARE those "best" practices? I, for one, don't always agree with "experts" or even real experts. My surgeon doesn't perform surgey on me without my input, even my permission. If you are a web developer your boss has input, even though it's you who are the expert.

  • At this point, my understanding is that the UK filters content for items that are arguably illegal under the the law.. This is pretty much a sovereign government making the decision to impose a consequence without due process, which might be ok under the current conditions. It is still possible for non-casual viewers to get access to the content, and if the content is of the category that many casual people view it and want to continue to view it, then evidently pressure can be placed on the policy makers
  • Since when do megalomaniac control freaks need reasons to justify their actions?
    • by genner (694963)

      Since when do megalomaniac control freaks need reasons to justify their actions?

      Since the lowly peons crave strong leadership becuase they need guidance........see it's not that hard rationalize a justification. Todays power mad leaders are just lazy.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Friday February 20, 2009 @01:54PM (#26932847)

    Why Doesn't the IWF Notify Those Whom They Block?

    Because their main weapon is surprise!

    Well, surprise and fear . . . and vicious devotion to the pope . . . wait . . . their three main weapons . . .

  • I'm in favor of someone easily being able to tell if a website is on the blacklist (in as much as I'm in favor of this whole concept to begin with), but "notifying" websites? How? Send them email to webmaster@soandsosite.com? We all no that's not overrun with spam. And no one would send spam to that address in the same format as a blacklist notification, right? What if it's a subsite? Do they dig up each sites author's email address? Do they edit for people putting weird things in their email to avoi

  • Most of the people trying to access the page through British ISPs got a 404 error or a similar error. They weren't even told that they were being censored. If something like this happened for a small website, someone would likely just assume the site was down. People realized that wasn't the issue in part because Wikipedia shows internal links to pages as blue if a Wikipedia page on the subject exists and if not shows it as red and directs to a page for you to start that article. So users could see that en.
  • "If several people came forward to say that the IWF had blocked, for example, their photographs of nudist children (which are not illegal), then it might undermine support for the IWF blacklisting system and for their mission in general."

    An image is "child porn" in the UK if it offends against "the recognised standards of propriety", even to a minor extent. In other words, images are illegal if they are offensive to the jury (who are considered able to "apply the recognised standards of propriety"), and som

Software production is assumed to be a line function, but it is run like a staff function. -- Paul Licker

Working...