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Censorship The Internet United Kingdom

The UK's Internet Porn Filter and Fighting Censorship Creep 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-somebody-think-of-the-children dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian takes the UK government's internet porn filter to task by pointing out how absurd the opt-out process is: 'Picture the scene. You're pottering about on the internet, perhaps idly looking up cake recipes, or videos of puppies learning to howl. Then the phone rings. It's your internet service provider. Actually, it's a nice lady in a telesales warehouse somewhere, employed on behalf of your service provider; let's call her Linda. Linda is calling because, thanks to David Cameron's "porn filter", you now have an "unavoidable choice", as one of 20 million British households with a broadband connection, over whether to opt in to view certain content. Linda wants to know – do you want to be able to see hardcore pornography? How about information on illegal drugs? Or gay sex, or abortion? Your call may be recorded for training and monitoring purposes. How about obscene and tasteless material? Would you like to see that? Speak up, Linda can't hear you.' The article also points out how the filter is being used as a tool for private industry to protect their profits. 'The category of "obscene content", for instance, which is blocked even on the lowest setting of BT's opt-in filtering system, covers "sites with information about illegal manipulation of electronic devices [and] distribution of software" – in other words, filesharing and music downloads, debate over which has been going on in parliament for years.'"
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The UK's Internet Porn Filter and Fighting Censorship Creep

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  • by boristdog (133725) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:18PM (#45857979)

    As a 50 year-old man nearing retirement, I can emphatically say "Hell yes!" to all of those questions.

    And I'll let Linda know that I'll be wankin' it to much of that aforementioned content. While smoking weed.

    • by i kan reed (749298) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:41PM (#45858251) Homepage Journal

      Yeah, me too. I have a relationship that would stand up to a "porn's okay" conversation.

    • And I'll let Linda know that I'll be wankin' it to much of that aforementioned content. While smoking weed.

      Linda: The blocked content includes child pornography sir.

      What will you do now?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:59PM (#45858453)

        Say that things are commonly misfiltered and that Google already filters for that so it's rather unlikely to show up, and if it does you'll report it to the authorities.

      • Yup. Do it to it Linda. I survived the internet for 20 years before your filter showed up, I think I can manage.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by carlos92 (682924)

        ISP agent: The blocked content includes child pornography, madam.
        Linda: Thanks for reminding me that, I will make sure I block CP on my end. I just don't want you or the Government to block pictures of my grandchildren in the swimming pool or something like that.

        This reminds me of a project where my team worked from the client's office, and we had to ask the client to let view porn, because their f***ing content filter thought Java source files were porn because they had some comments marked with XXX (stand

      • Child porn is already illegal in the UK.
      • by grahammm (9083)

        And I'll let Linda know that I'll be wankin' it to much of that aforementioned content. While smoking weed.

        Linda: The blocked content includes child pornography sir.

        What will you do now?

        Reply, "so sign me up to the filter which ONLY blocks child pornography."

      • "I can filter that on my own, thanks anyway"
      • by Luckyo (1726890)

        This is UK. You're boned no matter what you say. Pedohunters will rape you regardless of your choice.

    • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Friday January 03, 2014 @01:05PM (#45858525)

      As a 50 year-old man nearing retirement, I can emphatically say "Hell yes!" to all of those questions.

      And I'll let Linda know that I'll be wankin' it to much of that aforementioned content. While smoking weed.

      Making poor Linda suffer for the fact that this unfortunate job has been foisted upon her would not achieve anything. Statistically Linda is highly likely to be a single mom or one half of a low income family and I can't blame her for not being reluctant to take a stand over this and risk losing her job over it. David Cameron, the conservative party and UKIP (out of fear of whom the Tories are doing this and who really deserve your scorn) can, however, shove their entire censorship program where the sun does not shine along with all of the hypocritical spin about how censorship measures that are only rivalled by those used by communist China and Saudi Arabia are being introduced in a democratic country in the name of protecting 'freedom' and 'moral values'.

      • by BasilBrush (643681) on Friday January 03, 2014 @01:39PM (#45858907)

        I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy for people who take jobs that largely consist of annoying people. And that includes all cold-calling. We should do nothing to make their job easier and everything to make their job harder.

        • I once took a telemarketing job in college, pay a time of day worked for me. That was the most miserable two days of work in my life. Walked out on day two, told the boss I can't mislead people.

          I have a little empathy, but no sympathy.
        • I'm sorry, but I have no sympathy for people who take jobs that largely consist of annoying people. And that includes all cold-calling. We should do nothing to make their job easier and everything to make their job harder.

          If this was a telemarketer I'd agree with you, those people can be terribly annoying. But in my experience my telco's support centre staff are not there to annoy me. The handful of times they have cold-called me over the years it was to offer me more economical plans for my mobile phone and my iPad. As it turned out they were right, given my usage pattern I was actually paying less with the plan they recommended.

        • by Any Web Loco (555458) on Friday January 03, 2014 @08:00PM (#45862391) Homepage
          In a perfect world we'd all be able to have jobs that didn't piss you off. Sadly, we don't live in that world and there are some people who have to take the only job that's available to them, and in some cases, that jobs going to be a job that consists of annoying you. When the alternative's starvation, any job's a good one. You're an asshole because you're advocating making life even shittier for people who may have no choice in doing the job they do.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <[ten.3dlrow] [ta] [ojom]> on Friday January 03, 2014 @11:10PM (#45863185) Homepage

          If you are unemployed and the local call centre is hiring then your choice is to take the job or lose your benefits.

      • by ultranova (717540)

        Making poor Linda suffer for the fact that this unfortunate job has been foisted upon her would not achieve anything. Statistically Linda is highly likely to be a single mom or one half of a low income family and I can't blame her for not being reluctant to take a stand over this and risk losing her job over it.

        Unfortunately, this leads to a rather bleak conclusion about the future of our societies. After all, if Linda won't stand up to creeping tyranny, then who will? China?

        Perhaps it's time to admit you

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Friday January 03, 2014 @01:21PM (#45858715)

      how the heck are you a 50 year old man nearing retirement? In US you'd be halfway through your working life.

      • It isn't that hard if you reject consumerism and learn how to invest properly (see John Bogle).

        Speaking from personal experience.

        • by rueger (210566)
          It isn't that hard if you reject consumerism and learn how to invest properly

          And are lucky,

          And don't suffer a major illness which takes you out of the workforce for several years. Or which, in the US, has to be paid for with your life savings or by selling your home.

          And don't invest is supposedly safe things that tank during a major economic recession. The things that supposedly highly trained investment advisors told you to buy. (or are you suggesting that every single person regardless of backg
          • by boristdog (133725)

            I admit to being VERY lucky. Born white and middle class to parents who valued education (NASA scientist father, teacher mother) and who looked at me disapprovingly if I didn't bring home straight A's. My father also likes to build stuff, my mother loves to travel so I've been building stuff and traveling the world since I was a wee lad. There are few better educational and incentive experiences than visiting the poorer parts of the world when you are young.

            So yeah, I had a lot of advantages and I used t

      • by cayenne8 (626475)

        how the heck are you a 50 year old man nearing retirement? In US you'd be halfway through your working life.

        Well, you see...some of us save a respectable portion of our income over our work lifetime, and don't spend every fscking penny we earn buying crap.

        Do a reasonable savings, invest, and yes...get a little lucky here and there from time to time, and at age 50yrs, you should be able to see retirement in the reasonable near future.

      • by boristdog (133725)

        How did I do it? Let's see:

        I live in a small house that I built myself on land I bought cheap outside town many years ago. I also bought more of that "cheap" land that is now worth 3x to 5x what I paid for it, so I can sell it later.

        Saving and investing about 1/3 of my income. Dumped as much as I could stand into the market after the 2008-2009 crash. Lost some, made far more.

        I'm building some alternative income streams now to keep the do-re-mi flowing.

        I still travel a lot and spend way too much money on

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          You are very lucky, like many of your generation. Young people today often don't have enough spare cash to buy land, build a house or otherwise invest.

    • I'd say I'm currently wanking it to the teletubbies. Please provide some better material.

  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:19PM (#45857993) Homepage Journal

    I would hope Linda and others would have the fortitude to say "Yes across the board" and hang up. It's better to face the odd goatse than to have the government spoon feed you.
    • by houghi (78078)

      I was thinking YES as well. I want to be ABLE to look at what I like. I should even be allowed to see Justin Bieber if I want to.

  • The answer is simple (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:19PM (#45857997)

    "I do not wish to have the government choose for me which content is appropriate for my viewing. Unblock all of it. If I am worried about what my children will get into, I will monitor them myself or purchase configurable child blocking software. Thank you. Have a nice day."

    • by Seumas (6865)

      "Sir, I'm sorry, but I'm obligated to receive individual confirmation of each item on the list. Can we continue, now, please?"

      • As I said before, no to censorship, meaning yes to everything, including that one.

        If the call is recorded an individual yes is acceptable at that point, and if its not no one will care.

        Did I miss something? Do you still think the chilling effect exists?

    • Agreed. My response is more terse, along the lines of, "I object on principle to having my potential internet access censored."
    • "I do not wish to have the government choose for me which content is appropriate for my viewing. Unblock all of it. If I am worried about what my children will get into, I will monitor them myself or purchase configurable child blocking software. Thank you. Have a nice day."

      My answer would be "please can you send me my mac code".

  • "Yeah baby" (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    No big deal, I'll just make it equally creepy for Linda

  • really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:20PM (#45858005)

    How hard is it to say, "Give me the total freedom package and piss off!"?

    • Re:really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:23PM (#45858037) Journal

      The British have one thing over America: They know how to say "Piss off!" in every situation imaginable. Americans just get all hot and whimper and then bend over. Violence is bad here, it's taught as "not the solution", and all aggression is looked down upon; we've forgotten how to push back, to shout at people, and to react to someone trying to kill us by throwing a brick at them instead of crying and ducking under a chair.

      In America, it would be like, "ohgod, I uh, please don't call me, I don't want to talk about stuff like that it's uncomfortable!"

      • Re:really? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Antipater (2053064) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:34PM (#45858169)

        Americans just get all hot and whimper and then bend over

        Just phrase it as "Obama is coming to take your porn!" That'll get 'em riled up good.

        • Re:really? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by lagomorpha2 (1376475) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:41PM (#45858243)

          Nah, over here it would be the other way around. Rumors would start about the government subsidizing adult content and the next thing you know the Right in the US would be screaming about protecting the children from Obamaporn.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        It's kind of a split personality though. In some situations it's immediately to "piss off!" But in other situations, like on the tube, it's 100% near-silent passive aggression.

      • by dirk (87083)

        Americans just get all hot and whimper and then bend over.

        This post is now potentially blocked in the UK.

    • by RichMan (8097)

      You should actually say that to the politician to get results not the anonymous phone support person

  • Definition. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nospam007 (722110) * on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:22PM (#45858027)

    I guess for the ruling party, the opposition would be 'obscene'.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Will be interesting to see if it applies to their own. If an MP has a racist rant on their site, will the "extremist" filter flag it? Will Enoch Powell's speeches on YouTube get the axe? Guess: no.

      • Will be interesting to see if it applies to their own. If an MP has a racist rant on their site, will the "extremist" filter flag it? Will Enoch Powell's speeches on YouTube get the axe? Guess: no.

        I'm waiting for a newspaper to publish a leaked list of MPs who have said "yes I want the porn" to their ISPs...

      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        mm ok so thats all of UKIPS then
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Is there a submission form for potentially bad sites? I want to write a script that bulk submits Daily Mail pages as they are published based on keywords for child porn/hate/racism etc.

  • Please ... (Score:2, Funny)

    by PPH (736903)

    ... hold the gay sex and drugs. I'll have an extra helping of porn, if that's not too much trouble.

    • Re:Please ... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by MozeeToby (1163751) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:33PM (#45858153)

      Does "drugs" block sites such as those advocating an end to marijuana prohibition? Does "gay sex" block sites such as support sites for homosexual teens? I suspect yes and yes; if not intentionally every time then at least unintentionally some of the time. So no, you damn well won't censor any of my communications with the outside world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Even if you're not interested in ever taking drugs, the experience reports on Erowid make for some damn interesting reads!

    • Re:Please ... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine (196982) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:42PM (#45858259)

      Personally, I'd respond "give me all of it" even though I have no desire to visit gay sex or drugs websites. First of all, should I decide to visit such sites in the future, I don't want to ask for permission to see them. Secondly, I don't want the government deciding what constitutes "gay sex" or "drugs" websites.

      Who is determining this and who is preventing them from abusing their position? (i.e. "You oppose me so your site is suddenly an 'undesirable' site and blocked by default.") Government shouldn't be in the business of blocking websites. If the government feels the need to do anything, they can recommend a few of the many free or pay web blocking programs and provide information on how to install/configure them on your local computers. This should appease the "think of the children" crowd without forcing the rest of us to abide by their definition of "right and wrong."

    • Re:Please ... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Krneki (1192201) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:52PM (#45858373)

      I guess Game of Thrones is on your block list.

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:33PM (#45858157) Journal
    "Internet censorship, in any way, shape, or form, is wrong, and I for one do not support it nor will I endure it, because while ostensibly it is to 'protect the children!', it is inevitably mis-used as a tool by politicians to further their own political and social agendas, and by proxy it is further mis-used by big business to increase their profits by silencing their competition. Lastly it has been proven time and time again that using blacklists to censor the internet simply does not work, and it inevitably will block perfectly 'acceptable' content while sometimes allowing 'unacceptable' content through. Therefore I do not wish to have anything to do with anything having to do with any form of censorship, please do not include me in it, and please do not bother me about this subject again."
    • Internet censorship, in any way, shape, or form, is wrong,...

      Well, no, I wouldn't agree with this. There is certainly stuff out there that should be censored (and the people putting it up should be put into jail).

      However, filtering this out completely is impossible, and I very much suspect that attempting to filter it out is done with the intention of filtering out contents that people _should_ be allowed to see, that is helpful, but doesn't fit someone's agenda.

      • There is a huge difference between consequences and censorship. Maybe publishing some stuff in the Internet should be enough to put people in jail or make them pay damages, but nothing should ever be censored.
      • by kheldan (1460303)
        I think you need to differentiate between "censorship" and "illegal content". I am not in any way, shape or form going to say that, for instance, child pornography should be allowed to exist, as the people who create and traffic in such material are predators, plain and simple, and need to be dealt with as the criminals they are. However the hue and cry to 'Protect the children!' is usually disingenuous at best, used merely as an emotional ploy to further someone's agenda.

        On the other hand you may well be
        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          Can you clarify what you mean by "not allowed to exist"? I am all for going after producers of that stuff, but against trying to censor it online. It can't be used as the justification for building censorship infrastructure.

          In fact I'd suggest that decriminalising possession might be worth considering. The police are all to happy to use claims of finding child porn on victims victims computers to put pressure on them, especially when the police themselves have bungled the investigation. Like firearms or the

  • The Nanny State (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vikingpower (768921) <<exercitussolus> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday January 03, 2014 @12:35PM (#45858177) Homepage Journal
    is now being turned, all nice and easy, into Nanny State 2.0: a Surveillance State. Police State will be Nanny State 3.0. Rejoice, o Britons !
  • Linda, what are you wearing?
  • Given that both the US and UK governments no longer operate according to their own laws, is it really insane to posit that all those that fully opt-out will be placed on a list curated by the organs of state security? And if any of those on that list dare speak up or protest the doings of NSA / GCHQ, they will be backdoored, child pron / snuff placed on their devices and promptly arrested? "See? the system works! And the rest of you lot best reconsider opting back in or you're next."

    As Goering said: "It's
  • Search engines can figure out most of this stuff anyway, right? Isn't our privacy on these issues already gone? What's the difference between UK asking you for it and Google just paying attention to your browsing history? Now a-days I'm just going to assume the NSA and my ISP (I'm in the US) can see this stuff anyway.

    This is in part a rhetorical question meant to focus on the general lack of privacy these days. We shouldn't get up in arms about being asked, we should be up in arms about not having privacy i

  • would you like censored internet? yes or no!!!

  • Hi Linda,

    What do you class as adult content? Who decides? Where would an act of fellatio fall in this criteria? Would that be blocked? What about anal sex? What about playing with a vibrator? So all adult content is blocked? What about pregnancy advice? What about information on alcohol consumption? What about contraception? What about advice on which genital piercing to get? So not all adult content, then? So which content to I know that I'm opening up or not? How can I decide? Where's the li

  • I am not from the UK but I live there. I signed up to GiffGaff, only to realize that the "optional" filter could only be disabled by giving GiffGaff my UK passport information. However, not being a citizen of the UK, I obviously do not have a UK passport and therefore cannot opt out. So much for the freedom of movement for workers.

    Sites which have been blocked included childline.org.uk and British Library. Obviously they correct those mistakes when they make it to the newspapers, but what about all the site

  • Fuck yes i want freedom. ( and be sure to scream the obscenities )

  • What is really being asked:
    "Do you want to be able to see hardcore pornography? If you answer yes, we'll make sure your partner knows, along with any visiting family, friends or co-workers who may use your connection and have the fleeting curiosity to see if sex.com if blocked."

    Whenever privacy issues are discussed, someone will quickly raise the obvious question: 'What are you hideing? The innocent have nothing to fear.' Well, here's your answer. Pornography is still legal, that doesn't mean I want everyon

  • Thanks you for calling, Linda. Please sign me up for the no-filtering-whatsoever service, please. My own filters that I have setup and maintain are more accurate, more unbiased, and less aligned toward corporate group think than the crap you are trying to push on me. As for child pornography and hard core porn, I have already discussed such things with my children and prepared them for what is out there. I trust that they are mentally strong enough and intelligent enough to be able to make basic decisions a

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