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Censorship The Internet Your Rights Online

UK Gov. Wants IWF List To Cover 100% of UK Broadband 281

Posted by kdawson
from the tackling-blocking dept.
wild_quinine writes "The UK government stated in 2006 that they wished to see 100% of UK consumer broadband ISPs' connections covered by blocking, which includes images of child abuse. 95% of ISPs have complied, but children's charities are calling for firmer action by the government as the last 5% cite costs and concerns over the effectiveness of the system. According to Home Office Minister Alan Campbell, 'The government is currently looking at ways to progress the final 5%.' With a lack of transparency in the IWF list, firm government involvement, and blocking that only 'includes' (but may not be limited to) images of child abuse, it looks like the writing is on the wall for unfiltered, uncensored Internet connections in the UK."
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UK Gov. Wants IWF List To Cover 100% of UK Broadband

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  • Absurd! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:34AM (#26966695)
    I am all for enforcement of laws, when they are reasonable. But things like this stink of nanny state. Child abuse is horrible, we can all agree, but pretending like it doesn't exist is sad, and ineffective.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @03:50AM (#26966789)

    Sadly this is another knee jerk reaction to a serious problem in society. Just by making access to the images difficult, child abuse will not go away. The British government should look at the roots of anti-social behaviour in society and put in place programmes of education to ensure that the next generation are not abusers.

    This kind of popluist resonse fomented by the gutter press has never been effective and never will.

  • Re:Proxy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:01AM (#26966845) Journal

    That won't help much if they ever start cutting you off for mere suspicion of wrong doing. Proxies are great for "fooling" the guy at the other end. Don't know how well it will protect you from the guy in the middle, or close to your end of the connection.

  • Hold your horses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xest (935314) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:10AM (#26966889)

    I agree the call for 100% is idiotic but I don't see it being a government forced initiative only that they'd like to see it.

    The only people demanding 100% right now are the childrens charities, but I already knew they were the pinnacle of the "think of the children" croud hence why I'd never donate to them. In cases like this they ultimately do more harm than good because they simply just cover up the fact a problem still exists.

    It's currently only the childrnes charities that are the problem here, the government, despite me hating them dearly for their repeated idiocy have not yet demanded 100% coverage, only said they'd like to see that. I'd like to see the existence of god disproved once and for all but that doesn't mean it's going to happen does it?

  • by onedotzero (926558) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:15AM (#26966915) Homepage

    I honestly see this as less of a reaction, and more of an excuse to control the Internet in the country.

    Next chance I get, I'm off.

  • by gallwapa (909389) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:20AM (#26966945) Homepage

    I wish they wouldn't refer to it as child abuse. While sexually/mentally abusing children is child abuse, child abuse often times focuses on the physical abuse (at leaset in my area of the country in the US). That said, this law is probably targeted at filtering pornographic images of children who were abused. There (is?) should be a better term to describe what they're trying to filter.

    That said, I don't think the governments of individual countries should censor the internet. By all means, censor public access, but as far as I am concerned, my connection to "the internet" is (or should be) a "private tunnel" that means no interference (from anyone, including the ISP!)

  • by SwedishPenguin (1035756) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:23AM (#26966961)

    Just the fact that the government wants 100% is enough. They may not force ISP's yet, but when they find out that those 5% won't do it (I assume out of principle, there are a few of those ISP's left) they will probably turn to forcing them to comply.

    We have our own filter here in Sweden, also supposedly for "child porn" (it's been proven to block other things too, and the filter is just as non-transparent). It doesn't have quite the same coverage (yet) but judging by our current government's previous actions, I wouldn't be surprised by them forcing ISP's to comply within a few years.

  • by unlametheweak (1102159) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:24AM (#26966969)

    This "voluntary" and "recommended system" doesn't seem to be very voluntary all of a sudden. Why doesn't this surprise me?

  • Sadly... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SwampChicken (1383905) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:33AM (#26966989)
    Australia isn't too far behind...
  • Re:Absurd! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Lokinator (181216) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:36AM (#26967005)

    Absurd is kind. But rather than heaping scathing abuse...

    Proxies, anyone? And for those as enjoy freedom, might I suggest the SouthWest corner of the U.S. (always excluding California, of course).

  • by N1AK (864906) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:37AM (#26967009) Homepage

    I agree the call for 100% is idiotic but I don't see it being a government forced initiative only that they'd like to see it.

    This is the same government that is bringing in voluntary ID cards. The definition of voluntary appears to be you are free not to get a card, but then you can't work at Manchester airport... how long until you won't be able to get CRB check without having an ID card? There definition of voluntary is swiftly shifting from free choice, to ability to choose to starve on the streets (as long as you don't get arrested) if you don't get one.

    Internet filtering will go the same way. The government must love the work the IWF is doing here, as it gets to claim credit for any improvements and say it is taking in action, but when the IWF cocks up the government can wash it hands and point out it is an independent body. I find it incredible that people find the idea of this organisation covertly removing content acceptable.

  • by AliasMarlowe (1042386) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:39AM (#26967017) Journal
    Are they really serious about cutting out access to sites promoting or depicting child abuse? If so, I look forward to them blocking all sites which aid or abet or encourage the religious indoctrination of children. They're all malevolent, and far more prevalent than any other form of abuse.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:49AM (#26967051)

    Child pornography? That's a shit reason censor.
    It also happens to be the one reason people aren't able to argue with.

    Where did all these child abusers come from?
    1. They were already there, the internet changed nothing.
    2. They were created by the internet. They spawned from caves just like a MMORPG.
    3. The internet magically turns people into child abusers just like that ActiveX control you didn't want.
    4. The whole thing was blown out of proportion by the media creating a moral panic.

    I've lived in several countries that have extensive censorship of all media, and that is the most scary thing on earth. It breeds a level of ignorance and double-think that just blows your mind. Censorship has the power to destroy your nation, however powerful it is today.

    Watch this space. As America and the UK among others become enemies of the internet, strangled by copyright laws run amok, and kids banned from playing with their chemistry sets, other countries will usurp us all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:50AM (#26967053)

    What does censoring those sites do anyways? Does it prevent the crimes (depicted in the site) from happening? Does it discourage pedophiles and such from doing those crimes? Or does it simply make a lot of "Think of the children!" people happy?

    The goal shouldn't be to censor, but to stop the crimes at the source. Speaking of child pornography. I don't know what other reasons there is to censor the Net other than for said reason.

    Piracy and the like, well, will always be gotten around of, I bet.

  • Re:Absurd! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WiiVault (1039946) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:56AM (#26967099)
    Depends on how you define freedom. Freedom from taxation perhaps, but freedom of body (abortion, contraception), or of mind (evolution) are certainly not so doing well, and I say this as a Coloradoan.
  • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:58AM (#26967105)

    I find it incredible that people find the idea of this organisation covertly removing content acceptable.

    Firstly, until the recent Wikipedia issue blew up, the IWF was practically unheard of in the UK.

    Secondly, while we'd all love to believe that something like "oh, by the way - there's a 95% chance that everything you do online is being monitored and censored" would have people taking to the streets with pitchforks and torches, the fact of the matter is it doesn't. I hate to say it, but a large percentage of the population fully subscribe to the idea that if you've done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear.

    Thirdly, this is one of those hot potatoes that it's very difficult to argue against - anyone who does is likely to find themselves tarred as someone who's "sympathetic to paedophiles". This doesn't just apply to politicians - our mass media is just as capable of demonising people as anyone else's and I don't know many people who would have the stomach for being plastered all over the front page of the papers with headlines like "Sick pervert wants to allow photos of child abuse!!11oneone"

  • Re:Proxy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by unlametheweak (1102159) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @04:58AM (#26967107)

    Maybe I should say that anybody on your side of the proxy can see what you're doing?

    OK -:)
    My point is really that with the Internet trust is implicit (and necessary), but it is also as dubious as putting your money in a bank account.

    You must trust your ISP, your proxy, your Web browser, your operating system, etc and so on. There are too many avenues for failure. Though the complexity of systems does help to provide security through obscurity, assuming that a consumer has an advantage over an adversary.

    It's all pretty much an illusion though. Any dedicated and persistent attack will have an increasing probability of success over time.

  • A slippery slope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ommerson (1485487) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:02AM (#26967129)

    When they came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a Jew.
    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.

    The crucial difference here is that nobody will admit to viewing kiddy pr0n, but the government has already set its sights on extreme and violent porn [although to be fair to the IWF, they apparently want nothing to do filtering this].

  • Re:Why block? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fastest fascist (1086001) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:06AM (#26967151)
    Stop looking for logic here. This is how it works: Children are abused, child porn is available on-line. People, understandably, are angry about this. Someone, somewhere suggests that no-one should be able to see such material, the government takes action to block access to it. Any argument against blocking is seen as an argument for neglecting children. Any call for rational discussion is seen as a sign of emotional coldness.

    If someone suggested the cops should be given the right to monitor internet-connections in real-time and immediately arrest and castrate everyone seen attempting to access child porn, I think they would get significant support for their idea.
  • by badfish99 (826052) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:10AM (#26967173)

    But they have to refer to it as chld abuse, in order to justify blocking it. If they said "this is harmless but we want to block it anyway", then who would take any notice of them?

    Of course it must be harmless: otherwise Cambridge (which is where the IWF offices are situated, according to their web site) would be a hotbed of child abuse, due to the number of people working for the IWF who look at this stuff for a living.

  • Am I being naÃve? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by severn2j (209810) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:11AM (#26967185)
    IANA trained psychologist but, it seems to me that the whole idea of making the viewing/downloading of CP illegal, will only have the opposite effect of whats intended (assuming whats intended is a reduction of child sex abuse), because pedophiles dont decide what they are attracted to anymore than anyone else.. Considering the stigma attached to even the suggestion of being a pedophile, I think its quite reasonable to assume that given the choice, a pedophile wouldnt be one if they could help it. Given that, I would much rather they got their kicks jerking off to CP, than taking it out on a child because they have no other avenue.

    Sex is a very powerful motivator for anyone (just look at the advertising industry for proof of that) and to assume that someone will just control their urges for the rest of their lives without any way to 'release' (for want of a better word) them seems very dangerous and ignorant of human (and animal) behaviour. I dont know what the solution is to child sex abuse, except maybe compulsory therapy for abusers as well as the abused (although, by then the damage is already done), but Im pretty sure this isnt it.
  • Re:Why block? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by badfish99 (826052) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @05:13AM (#26967193)
    We know the sort of stuff they are blocking, from the recent Wikipedia case, and it's plainly got nothing to do with child abuse. My guess would be that the people behind this are just prudes on a power trip.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:01AM (#26967389)

    The whole "child abuse" thing is a lie. They pretend all those sites contain child porn, but they don't prosecute the owners or hosts of sites that are on the list, even if they are hosted in EU countries. They say it's about child abuse, but not overtly sexual forms of abuse are not even covered (see parent), while sexual abuse seems to include any image that can be construed as representing a minor in a eroticizable way, regardless of if they depict real people or are related to actual abuse. Censoring people's sexual expression by banning selfpics and restricting teenagers' communication about sexual things are also forms of abuse IMO. This isn't about children--the vast majority of blocked sites don't contain any images of children. And it's not about protection, it's about control.

  • by Handpaper (566373) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:10AM (#26967441)
    I honestly can't see that the ISPs/IWF are actually serious about blocking anything.
    The block is implemented via DNS - avoiding it is trivial. It's a sop to the Government, rather than an effective censor.
    In fact, as things stand, we may have the best of it. The Government have their 'block', ISPs are 'doing something' and we have our Internet. All of it.
  • by Sobrique (543255) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:17AM (#26967471) Homepage
    What's the point though? The act of making the "child porn" in the first place is already illegal. Hunting down porn sites to block is basically an exercise in futility, and kinda assumes that it's impossible for people to use 'covert channels' for such things.
  • Re:Why block? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CarpetShark (865376) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:36AM (#26967571)

    If every ISP blocks 100%, then not even cops can get an unfiltered connection.

    They don't want every day cops to have an unfiltered connection. They want a special organisation, very likely an unelected one, to sit in judgement. It's a lovely idea really.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @06:38AM (#26967579)

    people need to raise HOLY HELL to stop this

    the STATE getting its claws onto censoring information and more importantly, *controlling information access* is a nightmare waiting to happen.

    first it is some bogus threat to the children, 5 years later, then it is to "stop the insurgents", then a few years later, it is to "quell dissent", and then to "keep the peace" and so on and so on

    slippery slope indeed

  • Re:Why block? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:21AM (#26968101)

    Yeah, the thing about the "virgin killer" fiasco is that the IWF were technically right - it probably is an "obscene publication" under our ridiculous child porn laws. It's those laws that are the root of the problem there, but good luck surviving the pitchfork-wielding mobs for more than 5 minutes if you dare suggest reforming them to something rational.

  • Stop The Pandering (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) <obsessivemathsfreak@@@eircom...net> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @08:45AM (#26968253) Homepage Journal

    Child abuse is horrible, we can all agree...

    Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop what you are doing. You and others.

    Every time you or anyone else adds pandering disclaimers like this you are undermining your own argument and are undeniably contributing to the problem of censorship in our society.

    Why do you think the "Think of the Children" brigade have gotten so far? How do you think that these people have been so successful at slowly introducing censorship to the Internet, and into society in general? It is because they rely on fear and intimidation to produce capitulations such as your disclaimer. Without fear, they are powerless in the face of common sense.

    No reasonable person need declare their revulsion. Yet everyone does so, because they are afraid of a pointing finger. Our society has been intimidated into censorship, and no one dares speak against it.

    Your statement even went so far as to seek greater consensus "we can all agree", adding to the cycle of intimidation and fear. This is where giving in has gotten us, and there is no end in sight to the injustices that will be heaped on us all "In The Name Of The Children". No end. These people will not stop, ever.

    Please do not capitulate in this way. There is no need to, despite how fearful you may be.

  • Re:Absurd! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:25AM (#26968479) Journal

    Ahhhh, ye are too pessimistic. Everybody knows that when the government monitors all we do on the internet, things will become doubleplusgood to crimsestop those filled with badthought regarding the children. Once we eradicate the need, or even desire, porn will no longer be needed. We will have artsem do the job of creating our progeny.

    The next stop, beyond monitoring the internet, will be to install cameras so we can root out facecrime. We must not allow dangerous thoughts to continue. We can thank Eurosoc for their visionary proposal, and Eurojust for their vigorous enforcement against these sexcrime addicts. Praise the Europres, the Eurocommission, and the Europax.

    (shudder)

    Wow. What a scary message that was to write. Also a little sad.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:41AM (#26968631) Journal

    >>>people need to raise HOLY HELL to stop this

    Or just aim a gun at your nearest politician's head. (knock) (knock) (knock). Uh oh. Apparently they're already monitoring the internet.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:42AM (#26968647)

    what good is this form of censorship anyway?
    Wouldnt those sharing heavily encrypt their files? I can not believe there are child porn sites out there that openly share such documents ?!

  • Re:Absurd! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @09:57AM (#26968779)

    > losing Wikileaks doesn't seem worth it.

    Way to miss the whole point of something like Wikileaks. If it can't be used to host materials that governments try to suppress, what's the point of even having it? Might as well shut it down right now and use Wikipedia instead.

  • by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot@ u b e r m00.net> on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:01AM (#26968803) Homepage Journal

    Nobody's going to raise hell about this, because then that person will be accused of supporting child porn and/or terrorism.

  • by Patch86 (1465427) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @10:24AM (#26969055)

    I don't think its unreasonable, in the context of saying "I think filtering of child porn is bad", to point out that you're not defending the child porn itself.

    In fact, I'd say its possibly the one and only time such a "capitulation" might be appropriate.

    Language is for saying what you mean. I understand what he means more clearly the way he wrote it than I would have if he'd omitted his little disclaimer. That means he's doing it right.

  • by makomk (752139) on Tuesday February 24, 2009 @07:19PM (#26976455) Journal

    The block is implemented via DNS - avoiding it is trivial. It's a sop to the Government, rather than an effective censor.

    Wrong. What they do is send all requests to the servers in question via a special transparent proxy. This is done at the IP level, so you can't avoid it just by using your own DNS server (well, I suppose some of the ISPs may have cheaped out and used DNS, but in general they didn't). If you visit a blocked page, you see a fake 404 message. I think, in some cases, they even used to go to the trouble of sending the correct 404 page for the site you were trying to visit.

    It's always been done this way, ever since the filter was first set up, back when BT was the only ISP that implemented it.

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