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UK Government Seeking To Expand Scope of 'Voluntary' Website Blocking 75

Posted by timothy
from the camel-nose-is-a-powerful-wedge dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The UK Internet Watch Foundation, which already works with most consumer broadband ISPs to block websites that contain child sexual abuse content, could soon see its 'voluntary' remit extended to include internet sites that contain 'violent and unlawful' content."
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UK Government Seeking To Expand Scope of 'Voluntary' Website Blocking

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  • I knew it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lunaritian (2018246) on Friday June 10, 2011 @10:57AM (#36400808)

    This is exactly why we should not allow internet censorship at all; the more sites are already censored the easier it is to add another one to the list.

    • This is exactly why we should not allow censorship at all

      FTFY

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        censorship is never for protection of citizens or "protecting the children". It's for protection of business models and corruption. Someday people might learn this. Voluntary censorship is no different.

        • Re:I knew it (Score:4, Insightful)

          by JosKarith (757063) on Friday June 10, 2011 @11:37AM (#36401488)
          Censorship always follows the wedge model - first the part that slides in easy, like CP. Then it becomes used to silence things not illegal, just distateful - like Hate Speech. Then it's used to silence anyone trying to argue against you. I've seen this working in a University society where a code of conduct was brought in to stop the worst of the trolls and within 2 years it was being used as a weapon to silence someone who the president took a personal dislike to. Power always corrupts, and tools always end up being used for purposes other than the original reasons for them. In the UK the expanded surveillance powers granted in the wake of 7/7 have been used to spy on people to make sure they recycle properly, to see if a family really does live in the cachement area of their preferred school, to check to see if people scoop the poop and so on.
          • by iserlohn (49556)

            In much of the EU, hate speech is indeed illegal. This is because they experienced first-hand the destruction that would happen if revisionism, racism and incendiary rhetoric were to take over political discourse.

            • by tompaulco (629533)
              In much of the EU, hate speech is indeed illegal
              And once it is made illegal, then you get to start adding to the list of what is considered Hate Speech to include stuff such as whatever is said by someone whose philosophy or ideas you disagree with.
          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            Then it becomes used to silence things not illegal, just distateful - like Hate Speech.

            Many types of hate speech are illegal in the UK. Incitement to religious hatred, for example. Makes it quite risky to criticise some religions, e.g. Mohammed was a paedophile (married Aisha and the marriage was consummated when she was age 9) and since paedos are generally hated and persecuted it isn't much of a leap to start hating those who hold him in high regard and seek to live their lives according to his example.

            We need strong ground rules, aka a constitution. Unfortunately I can't see how we will ev

        • If it really is voluntary I don't have a problem - say I provided a public access computer in a bar, I'm responsible for what is accessed through it regardless of whether I ask people to sign disclaimers and the like, I'd like to be able to restrict access to porn and so on. I don't want to censor those sites (ie actually prevent them "broadcasting"), I want to prevent my systems from accessing them by using a blacklist such as the one mentioned in the story.

          Now, if I go home and use my own systems then
          • Voluntary as in all the ISP have the option of opting in, they do not have to consult with their customers and if the ISP opts in then all the customers are blocked, and have no option but to go to another ISP

            Also Voluntary as in and ISP who decides not to opt in will be hounded until they do ...

          • by sjames (1099)

            I'm responsible for what is accessed through it regardless of whether I ask people to sign disclaimers and the like

            If that's the law, then it is already broken, and likely deliberately so to coerce "voluntary" censorship. Or in more legal terms, that would mean that censorship is constructively mandatory.

    • Re:I knew it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MoonBuggy (611105) on Friday June 10, 2011 @11:11AM (#36401068) Journal

      I don't entirely mind allowing it if it's truly voluntary, just like any other blocking software. Of course, having a system where the ISP opts in on all of their customers behalves, and publicising it in such a way that even questioning their use of the list is likely to elicit a response of "Why do you care unless you're some kind of pervert?" is certainly stretching the definition of 'voluntary'.

      As it stands, are there any ISPs who don't subscribe to the IWF list? How hard would it be for one of us to start our own that doesn't subscribe to some unsupervised qango's blocklist?

      • Of course it's truly voluntary. I mean, sure, every two-bit politician buffing his image for the upcoming election will appear in endless daily mail hit pieces about how you must be a piratical paedo-terrorist with a predilection for violence, because why else would you have opted out of this common-sense approach to law and order; but, yeah, totally voluntary.
      • by Tx (96709)

        Last time I was bitching about the IWF's lack of transparency here, someone pointed out AAISP [aaisp.net.uk] as one ISP that doesn't subscribe to the IWF list. Unfortunately if I want more than 2Mbps, I have to use cable, so not an option for me.

      • We already have a voluntary censorship tool: the mouse. Only content approved through clicking is displayed. User error might let a small amount through, but the eyelids provide adequate redundancy. Should hospital wards and nursing homes for quadriplegics whose eyelids have been burned off have filtered internet? This I admit is an important question that deserves investigation and debate.
      • As it stands, are there any ISPs who don't subscribe to the IWF list? How hard would it be for one of us to start our own that doesn't subscribe to some unsupervised qango's blocklist?

        Yes: my ISP, Andrews and Arnold Ltd. See http://www.aaisp.com/news-censorship.html [aaisp.com]. Getting fantastic 35Mbps (as measured by those speed test sites) FTTC as well!

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Just use Tor or any number of VPN services.

        Actually I downloaded the Tor live CD the other day but was getting SSL certificate errors from the site so I'm not sure if I should trust it. There is a GPG key but I have not checked the ISO against it yet.

    • Re:I knew it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday June 10, 2011 @11:31AM (#36401398)

      What do you have to hide, citizen?

    • You have to look at from a purely self serving government department point of view (The IWF is a government department in all but name). The more successful they are at their job, the less relevant they become, and they might need to scale back their operation (i.e. fire people) unless they find themselves more work to do. The devil makes work for idle departments.

      So they're going to "grow their business" into general censorship in order to stay "relevant" and more importantly in order to keep getting paid.

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      And it always starts with "for the childen" so that the law can pass in its first stage.

    • This is exactly why we should not allow internet

  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Friday June 10, 2011 @10:57AM (#36400812)

    ... and just route all their traffic through China? DNS, traffic, all of it. The system is all set up and running, waiting for them to join.

    • by easyTree (1042254)

      China are too open-minded and so don't censor heavily enough for the UK?

    • Brits are heavy Google users and Baidu doesn't translate to English very well yet. But I hear that is changing soon, and the new English version BendOver.co.uk is set to release.

  • That is a surprisingly rational way to refer to child pornography: it both describes the real problem (that children are being abused) and excludes things like "sexting" (at least as a descriptive term it does; I am not a UK citizen and I cannot comment on whether the government there considers a teenager taking a nude self-portrait to be "sexual abuse").
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That is a surprisingly rational way to refer to child pornography: it both describes the real problem (that children are being abused) and excludes things like "sexting" (at least as a descriptive term it does; I am not a UK citizen and I cannot comment on whether the government there considers a teenager taking a nude self-portrait to be "sexual abuse").

      True but one good phrase does not excuse a fundamentally wrong organization. They decide what the public are not allowed to see or know about without any form of oversight. Who's to say they are not blocking other things they consider objectionable like communist websites, political forums, or news stories about royals, or themselves?

      • by easyTree (1042254)

        For future readers, today's footnote-comment seems appropriate:

        "The better the state is established, the fainter is humanity. To make the individual uncomfortable, that is my task. -- Nietzsche"

      • by thijsh (910751)
        They probably are, and if they aren't they *will*. It is inevitable that a system made for censoring will eventually be abused... In Australia the list of censored sites leaked once and had several legitimate sites on it. This is why we need Wikileaks, Openleaks or any organization that helps leak these kinds of things because otherwise we would never find out about this kind of abuse! And we need evidence of the inevitable widespread abuse to fight these kinds of dangerous censorship, just warning ahead of
    • This a quintessentially equivocating bureaucratic term. It both includes and excludes precisely nothing. It is general enough to be all encompassing, and vague enough to be selectively exclusionary. It will be used by the censors office essentially at will, and at random, to enable them to exercise their powers where and how they see fit and so none may gainsay them.

    • by toriver (11308)

      You would have a point if it weren't for the weirdness that Bart and Lisa Simpson cartoon porn also counts as child porn many places.

  • Next it will include content that "paints the government or government officials in a bad light."

  • before everyone cries censorship, i think it's worth pointing out that everyone here reading this is likely to be a rational thinker, e.g. of a certain minimum level of psychological complexity.

    do you all realize this is a specific developmental level? a level which, even in the developed world only perhaps 60 or 70% of adults reach? and outside the developed world, far fewer?

    an attribute of this particular developmental level is a capacity to internally generate ethical judgement. in other words, rat
    • Nice one! :-) But I think a far better solution is to protect society from 'underdeveloped' people by locking them up.. I mean, what the hell.. If we're going to delve into the absurd here, may as well go all the way

    • not so for people below this developmental level, who may easily be swayed into unethical behaviour through emotional arguments. a society which does not make some effort to shield such people from content which might cause them to behave in antisocial ways is heading for trouble.

      If we accept this argument, we must then accept that these people cannot be relied upon to participate properly in a democratic system without supervision, and it's a short step from there to disenfranchising the whole lot of them altogether.

      • by awsx123 (2204510)
        these people already aren't "participate properly in a democratic system without supervision" in the sense that they are making irrational, emotional judgements which are being fashioned (or "manipulated" if you like to look at it more cynically) by those in society who are in positions of power and influence.

        and guess who the powerful people are? by and large, the rational people, the critical thinkers. developmental level is a very big factor regarding how likely we are to occupy a position of power an
      • Great idea. Why don't we give them a 2 and a 1/2 party system with a biased media and plenty of entertainment. They will never know.
    • before everyone cries censorship, i think it's worth pointing out that everyone here reading this is likely to be a rational thinker,

      I would dispute that premise. For example I have read many posts here that support religious views. Then again they may have all been trolls...

      60 or 70% of adults reach?

      That number sounds too high, however it may just be my confirmation bias kicking in. Do you have anything to support those numbers?

      • by tompaulco (629533)
        i think it's worth pointing out that everyone here reading this is likely to be a rational thinker,
        I would dispute that premise. For example I have read many posts here that support religious views.
        Okay, everybody but you. Is that better?
  • If this angers you then join the Open Rights Group [openrightsgroup.org] (the UK equivalent of the EEF).

    • by Anonymous Coward

      While I love the cause of the Open Rights Group, it appears to be all talk and no action. It's great to make an animation against the extension of copyright term on sound recordings and "show your MEPs". They'll look at it. And do what they want anyway.

      The ONLY way to stop this nonsense is to rally the people, as in the general public. How is this to be done? By letting the genie out of the box. For sound recordings, the genie is still in the box. How to let it out?

      Find pristine vinyl recordings that ORG be

  • Because there are a lot of fictional works and movie depictions of Rape, Murder, Robbery and other "violent and unlawful" stuff. Movie trailers and excerpts of books are often online at studio and store sites. I think they call it advertising.
    • by BitterOak (537666)

      Because there are a lot of fictional works and movie depictions of Rape, Murder, Robbery and other "violent and unlawful" stuff. Movie trailers and excerpts of books are often online at studio and store sites. I think they call it advertising.

      Actually, according to this article [cnn.com] which I read today, the UK government is completely banning the movie Human Centipede II because of violent content. It will not even be legal to view the movie in your private home on DVD.

  • The Internet Watch Foundation’s “Crapland” 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 [newstechnica.com] (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 co

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The biggest issue I have with the IWF is that they don't even display a blocking message. Their firewall software just returns a fake error message. They are effectively filtering UK internet without anyone knowing. Most people have no idea who the IWF are or realise that most UK internet connections are censored.

  • by MrL0G1C (867445)
    WTF is 'Violent and unlawful content'?????? Are they going to ban you tube now, how about the 9-11 plane crashes - 3000 die, that's pretty violent and unlawful!! Actually I think it's distasteful watching people die and gaining entertainment from it, but the line is too hard to draw between that and safety videos and newsworthy videos.
    • by sjames (1099)

      News video of police violently suppressing peaceful protest. It doesn't get any more violent and unlawful than that.

  • This is major b.s. they should be THANKFUL when some dumbass posts such content on the web so they can use it to track down the originating perpetrators of the ACTUAL CRIME and arrest them.

  • Indeed, why stop there.. you can next also block any site that 'promotes immorality' or 'encourages civil disobediance'. And while at it, why not have a 'make your neighborhood safer' website where you can post the names of 'troublemakers' and politically inconvenient types.. Hey.. why not dispense with websites altogether, and just incarcerate anyone who might commit a crime in the future....

"The vast majority of successful major crimes against property are perpetrated by individuals abusing positions of trust." -- Lawrence Dalzell

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