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How could the UK government block porn?

3 years ago

1 expert and 4 parents have answered

expert answer
Chris Puttick expert
Chris Puttick CEO, chief assistant to the duck GB
E-safety expert

Pornography, adult content and "age appropriate" are not all the same thing. Teenagers who encounter pornography online are rarely if ever doing so entirely accidentally (where it's not being sought out actively, it's because they're going to sites that are not entirely appropriate and then getting popups/links). If children are encountering and seeking out pornography ever younger, it is because we're not helping them to grow up at a comfortable rate online i.e. we're not managing content access in a way that is age-appropriate, not having online boundaries that expand as a child develops over time.

The government focus on porn (and dangerous conflation of that with child abuse) and attempt to hold ISPs responsible (who don't push porn at you) is not helpful nor constructive. Parents have to take responsibility for their children's upbringing, offline and online; those children whose parents don't or can't take responsibility will not be helped by the solutions provided by ISPs.

What is needed are solutions that address age-appropriate content access, and do that in a way that parents (who choose to) can easily and confidently implement those solutions. We're working on it :)

2 Reply Share:
Fact 3 years ago
Tom Baker writer
Tom Baker Quib.ly Staff Writer Derby, UK

We talk about it a lot on here because, well, it tends to be fairly bountiful online, and it's pretty easy to access – meaning kids can stumble across it all to easily. The British government recently announced that all ISPs will be required to filter pornographic content by the end of 2013 – but will the ISPs comply?

Currently only about 40% of parents use filters for their online connection, which means there's a whole lotta kids out there who could potentially come across adult content. Which is why Claire Perry – 'special advisor on preventing the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood' – is pushing for internet providers to implement filters that block dodgy stuff by default; you have to 'opt out' if you want mucky stuff coming down your fibre-optic line.

Which... could work, and is at least an improvement on earlier mooted plans where you would have to explicitly request explicit content whenever you wanted it (bearing in mind said 'explicit' content could be something the ISP's algorithm detected as such mistakenly; an article which has the word 'porn' in a lot, for example). But the internet companies aren't playing ball.

They're actually kind of right, too – they claim that they already do a fair amount to block bad content, that filtering is easily circumvented, and would only be part of a solution, too. Education is more important, as is parents keeping an eye on what their kids do online.

What do you guys think?

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Opinion 3 years ago
Anonymous
Anonymous

Personally, I agree with the filtering of pornography by default. The U.S. tried to do this back in 2006 with a bill that would require adult sites to be catalogued as a .xxx instead of a .com. The porn industry won out by saying this was a limitation on free speech but this is something that would have been so great to regulate. As a parent, I would love to simply tell my browser to filter .xxx sites out of my browser searches and block images from randomly coming up on google. As an IT teacher, I use Google's Safe Search to filter out explicit results, but sometimes they still get through! So, personally, I would love if they would get this bill back into congress: http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/49471.html.

1 Reply Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Matthew Day
Matthew Day A geek London, GB

Filtering has costs, overheads and mistakes, so I'm in favour of information rather than compulsion and default.

For a successful filter, you need:

1a. Detection of porn - fraught with problems, remember AOL's "Scunthorpe" issue and multiply by many orders of magnitude

1b. Identification - for some sites, it's a no brainer, the site is a porn site, and maybe reputable sites would even self-identify in a suitable system

  1. Blocking - whole sites can be simply blocked at domain or (assuming no shared server) IP level.

The problem is when acceptable and unacceptable content occurs on the same site, such as when the great Wikipedia controversy overloaded the filtering because ONE image was deemed unacceptable.

1 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Opinion 3 years ago
Gary Hough
Gary Hough Regulatory Manager & Post Punk GB

Filtering at best does nothing more than stop inadvertent access to content.

If the UK gets its way and ALL UK ISP's end up blocking content by default then children are going to be exposed to even more danger as many parents and carers will assume, wrongly that they are protected from what is inappropriate yet LEGAL content.

What's worth remembering here is that children of all ages can bypass filters easily and see things some parents may wish they hadn't. Yahoo for example has just started filtering its Tumblr blog platform by not allowing you to find certain content by keywords, however the content is still online, on the same sites as before and so long as you know the url of the site you get to it every time.

Does the Government not realise kids share website url's once known, one to one, one to many, many to many. So filtering is going to work very well then eh.

And sadly the children are likely getting away with it because Mr and Mrs responsible parent have it on good authority (The Governments) and can be forgiven for thinking that their ISP is filtering for them, totally oblivious to the fact it probably isn't doing that as well as they thought.

Let's face it, how many parents or carers of children check the filters in practice to see if it is working as they thought? If it is at the ISP network level then why would you? Yet little Johnny and Mary are happily bypassing it all as easy as a google search.

The mandatory filtering is nothing more than a political tick box that wins votes IMHO and any Government in power doing this with the deliberate ignorance David Cameron is showing today, is one I certainly won't be trusting to protect any child online.

There's an excellent research paper from a Cambridge Security Expert, Dr Richard Clayton called 'Failures in a Hybrid Content Blocking System' and this really opens your eyes to the weakness of what David Cameron and similar are demanding ISP's to implement. http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/~rnc1/cleanfeed.pdf

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Fact 3 years ago

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