Melon Farmers Original Version

David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban

Attempting to ban everything on the internet


First the Snooper's Charter, now the Fraudster's Charter...

Website blocking will open up age verification to credit card fraud

Link Here23rd November 2016

When you legislate at break-neck speed, and fail to consult, things will go wrong. This is absolutely the case with Age Verification (AV) in the Digital Economy Bill, which now seems set to include website blocking to bolster use of AV technologies. This is likely to lead to high risks of credit card fraud and privacy abuse.

Currently the BBFC are pinning their hopes on being able to specify some kind of privacy and safety standard through their ability to regulate arrangements that deliver age verified material. Sites must deliver pornographic material:

in a way that secures that, at any given time, the material is not normally accessible by persons under the age of 18

The regulator can issue then guidance for:

types of arrangements for making pornographic material available that the regulator will treat as complying

The claim is that this mechanism allows the guidance to specify what kind of AV is private and secure.

However, if the BBFC are told to block non-compliant websites, in practice they will have to accept any system that websites use that verifies age. To do otherwise would be highly unfair: why should a site with legal material, that uses their own AV system, end up blocked by the BBFC?

This will especially apply to systems that require registration / credit card tests. There are plenty of paysites already of course. These are not privacy friendly, as they strongly identify the user to the website - and they have to do this to minimise fraudulent payment card transactions. That's alright as a matter of choice of course, but dangerous when it is done purely as a means of age verification.

If asking for credit card details becomes common or permissible, and a credible ask in the minds of UK citizens, then the government will have created a gold mine for criminals to operate scam porn sites targeted at the UK, inviting people to supply their credit cards to scam sites for Age Verification . In fact you could see this being extended to all manner of sites that a criminal could claim were blocked until you prove you're over 18 .

verified by visa fraud

Once credit card details are harvested, in return for some minimal/copyright infringing porn access at a scam porn site, then criminals can of course resell them for fraud. Another easy to understand example of a criminal abusing this system is that you could see criminals typo-squatting on relevant domain names such as and asking for a credit card to gain access. Anything that normalises the entry of credit card details into pages where the user isn't making a payment will increase the fraudulent use of such cards. And if a website is validating credit cards to prove age, but not verifying them, then the internationally agreed standards to protect credit card data are unlikely to apply to them.

Website blocking makes these scams more likely because the BBFC is likely to have to sacrifice control of the AV systems that are permissible, and a diversity of AV systems makes it hard for users to understand what is safe to do. During the committee stage of the Digital Economy Bill, we argued that the AV regulator should be highly specific about the privacy and anonymity protections, alongside the cyber security consequences. We argued for a single system with perhaps multiple providers, that would be verifiable and trusted. The government on the other hand believes that market-led solutions should be allowed to proliferate. This makes it hard for users to know which are safe or genuine.

If website blocking becomes part of the enforcement armoury, then websites that employ unsafe but effective, or novel and unknown, AV systems will be able to argue that they should not be blocked. The BBFC is likely to have to err on the side of caution - it would be an extreme step to block an age-verifying website just because it hadn't employed an approved system.

The amount of website blocking that takes place will add to the scamming problem and open up new opportunities for innovative criminals. The BBFC seems to be set to have an administrative power to order ISPs to block. If this is the case, the policy would appear to be designed to block many websites, rather than a small number. The more blocking of sites that users encounter, the more they will get used to the idea that age verification is in use for pornography or anything that could possibly be perceived as age-restricted, and therefore trust the systems they are presented with. If this system is not always the same, but varies wildly, then there are plenty of opportunities for scams and criminal compromise of poorly-run Age Verification systems.

Security and privacy problems can be minimised, but are very, very hard to avoid if the government goes down the website blocking route. What MPs need to know right now is that they are moving too fast to predict the scale of the problems they are opening up.



Update: A database of the UK's porn habits. What could possibly go wrong?...

The Government wants people who view pornography to show that they are over 18, via Age Verification systems. by Jim Killock of Open Rights Group

Link Here19th October 2016

The Government wants people who view pornography to show that they are over 18, via Age Verification systems. This is aimed at reducing the likelihood of children accessing inappropriate content.

To this end the Digital Economy Bill creates a regulator that will seek to ensure that adult content websites will verify the age of users, or face monetary penalties, or in the case of overseas sites, ask payment providers such as VISA to refuse to process UK payments for non-compliant providers.

There are obvious problems with this, which we detail elsewhere .

However, the worst risks are worth going into in some detail, not least from the perspective of the Bill Committee who want the Age Verification system to succeed.

As David Austen, from the BBFC, who will likely become the Age Verification Regulator said :

Privacy is one of the most important things to get right in relation to this regime. As a regulator, we are not interested in identity at all. The only thing that we are interested in is age, and the only thing that a porn website should be interested in is age. The simple question that should be returned to the pornographic website or app is, "Is this person 18 or over?" The answer should be either yes or no. No other personal details are necessary.

However, the Age Verification Regulator has no duties in relation to the Age Verification systems. They will make sites verify age, or issue penalties, but they are given no duty to protect people's privacy, security or defend against cyber security risks that may emerge from the Age Verification systems themselves.

David Austen's expectations are unfortunately entirely out of his hands.

Instead, the government appears to assume that Data Protection law will be adequate to deal with the privacy and security risks. Meanwhile, the market will provide the tools.

The market has a plethora of possible means to solve this problem. Some involve vast data trawls through Facebook and social media. Others plan to link people's identity across web services and will provide way to profile people's porn viewing habits. Still others attempt to piggyback upon payment providers and risk confusing their defences against fraud. Many appear to encourage people to submit sensitive information to services that the users, and the regulator, will have little or no understanding of.

And yet with all the risks that these solutions pose, all of these solutions may be entirely data protection compliant. This is because data protection allows people to share pretty much whatever they agree to share, on the basis that they are free to make agreements with whoever they wish, by providing 'consent'.

In other words: Data protection law is simply not designed to govern situations where the user is forced to agree to the use of highly intrusive tools against themselves.

What makes this proposal more dangerous is that the incentives for the industry are poor and lead in the wrong direction. They have no desire for large costs, but would benefit vastly from acquiring user data.

If the government wants to have Age Verification in place, it must mandate a system that increases the privacy and safety of end users, since the users will be compelled to use Age Verification tools. Also, any and all Age Verification solutions must not make Britain's cybersecurity worse overall, e.g. by building databases of the nation's porn-surfing habits which might later appear on Wikileaks.

The Digital Economy Bill's impact on privacy of users should, in human rights law, be properly spelled out (" in accordance with the law ") and be designed to minimise the impacts on people (necessary and proportionate). Thus failure to provide protections places the entire system under threat of potential legal challenges.

User data in these systems will be especially sensitive, being linked to private sexual preferences and potentially impacting particularly badly on sexual minorities if it goes wrong, through data breaches or simple chilling effects. This data is regarded as particularly sensitive in law.

Government, in fact has at its hands a system called Verify which could provide age-verification in a privacy friendly manner. The Government ought to be explaining why the high standards of its own Verify system are not being applied to Age Verification, or indeed, why the government is not prepared to use its own systems to minimise the impacts.

As with web filtering, there is no evidence that Age Verification will prevent an even slightly determined teenager from accessing pornography, nor reduce demand for it among young people. The Government appears to be looking for an easy fix to a complex social problem. The Internet has given young people unprecedented access to adult content but it's education rather than tech solutions that are most likely to address problems arising from this. Serious questions about the efficacy and therefore proportionality of this measure remain.

However, legislating for the Age Verification problem to be "solved" without any specific regulation for any private sector operator who wants to "help" is simply to throw the privacy of the UK's adult population to the mercy of the porn industry. With this mind, we have drafted an amendment to introduce the duties necessary to minimise the privacy impacts which could also reduce if not remove the free expression harms to adults.



Offsite Article: Not Just TV-Like...

Link Here 24th February 2016
Jerry Barnett notes that the government's new porn censorship proposal is a lot wider than just Video on Demand and will require robust age verification for the likes of Google Image Search and Instagram

See article from



Offsite Article: Plans to restrict access to pornography are motivated by nothing and will achieve nothing...

Link Here22nd February 2016
David Cameron wants to protect teenagers from the wild world of sex on the internet - but this generation is more sexually responsible than we tend to think. By Clare Bowden

See article from



Offsite Article: No Sex Please, We're British...

Link Here 15th February 2016
Pandora Blake Battles UK Censorship

See article from



Offsite Article: Happy Birthday Porn Protest!...

Link Here 17th December 2015
Report from the Westminster porn protest, one year after the original 'facesitting' event

See article from



Offsite Article: Filtering out Cameron's censorship...

Link Here 4th September 2015
Survey reveals that porn blocking shunned by Brits due to uncertainty around its effectiveness

See article from



Offsite Article: The UK war on porn: turning ISPs into parents...

Link Here12th August 2015
David Cameron has recently proposed further measures to regulate porn websites. His government plans to require iISPs to filter porn sites that do not comply with new guidance. By Stephen Beard

See article from



Update: Tony Bear explains UK video censorship to Lady Bear...

An amusing explanation of porn censorship in the UK

Link Here8th August 2015

In December 2014 the UK introduced new regulations to censor online videos. Tony Bear explains the new rules to Lady Bear. She doesn't like it.

If you don't like it either, find out more at Backlash .



Offsite Article: Could Cameron's porn blockade really work?...

Link Here 6th August 2015
The Prime Minister wants porn site visitors to prove their age. Experts says it will never work

See article from



Offsite Article: Giving Cameron a 4 billion to 1 chance of being able to block porn...

Link Here4th August 2015
Let's start by saying that this will be totally, absolutely ineffective at preventing kids from seeing porn. Never underestimate the power of a kid who is cash-poor and time-rich.

See article from



Update: A swarm of pornographers coming across the Channel...

David Cameron's War on Porn will continue with an autumn consultation on how to censor adult websites

Link Here30th July 2015
The Guardian has published an article presumably based on a government press release:

David Cameron is to give pornography websites one last chance to produce an effective voluntary scheme for age-restricted controls on their sites or he will introduce legislation that could see them shut down.

In a consultation to be launched in the autumn, the government will seek views on how best to introduce measures to further restrict under-18s' access to pornographic websites.

The industry, in the shape of either UK-based websites or internet service providers, will be given an opportunity to develop proposals to block content through payment providers, such as advertisers and other means.

The consultation will also consider the best form of legislation should voluntary agreements not work. A regulatory approach could see primary legislation introduced to make it an offence in the UK to publish pornography online without age verification controls, possibly with a regulator to oversee and enforce controls.

The government recognises the spread of the internet makes it a challenge to find a form of legislation that would cover such sites both in the UK and internationally. The government has raised the prospect of setting up a pornography regulator to oversee the process and fine firms that breach either legislation or the voluntary guidelines.

The aim is to ensure that the rules that apply offline apply online, giving parents the peace of mind of knowing that their children can use the internet safely.

Cameron said his government was working:

To make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content, which is currently far too widely available. I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down.

The minister for internet safety and security, Joanna Shields, said:

As a result of our work with industry, more than 90% of UK consumers are offered the choice to easily configure their internet service through family-friendly filters -- something we take great pride in having achieved. It's a gold standard that surpasses those of other countries.

Whilst great progress has been made, we remain acutely aware of the risks and dangers that young people face online. This is why we are committed to taking action to protect children from harmful content. Companies delivering adult content in the UK must take steps to make sure these sites are behind age verification controls.



Update: UK internet censorship looks set to be filtered out...

Tories fail to get the EU to exempt UK website blocking from net neutrality provisions that seem to ban ISPs from interefering with people's internet feed

Link Here10th July 2015
New rules for Internet providers across the European Union could eliminate adult website blocking in the U.K.

The telecoms single market rules, approved June 30, will go before the full European Parliament for a vote this fall. If the legislation gets a green light, it will trump existing national laws. Censorship provision were more laterly debated in Council on July 8.

Despite the best efforts of UK Conservatives in the Parliament, the EU-wide regulation will put an end to Internet service provider-level filters for adult content, which will mean new U.K. laws by the end of next year.

Currently in the U.K., the major ISPs give users the option to block pornography or gratuitous violence. Consumers are prompted to choose whether to turn on the blocking filter when they first use their Internet connection.

While an exception for parental blocking tools was debated, it was not included in the final text.



Update: A New Age of Censorship...

The UK adult trade is expecting a new law requiring age verification for all websites, and those that don't comply will be blocked

Link Here 26th May 2015

Britons may soon face ID checks to access adult material on the internet, according to discussions between the government and groups from the beleaguered UK adult trade.

A scheme proposed by the industry group, The Digital Policy Alliance,  would see adult sites verifying visitors' identity with organisations such as banks, credit reference agencies or even the NHS.  Adult websites would offer visitors a choice of identity providers -- from Vodafone to the Department for Work and Pensions -- to vouch for their age, O'Connell said. The user would sign in to the provider with a username and password, and a check would be run against the data it holds. To boost privacy, checks would pass through an anonymising hub . This strips identifying information in both directions of the request. In theory, the provider never knows the reasons for the checks, and the site never knows users' true identities, just that they are over 18.

It comes ahead of an expected new law demanding age checks for online pornography and threatening a block on any sites which don't comply. It is a key Conservative pledge. But critics say the plans are a privacy nightmare. Some warn they are a step towards Chinese-style internet restrictions. Myles Jackman, a lawyer specialising in obscenity law said:

This is cutting-edge censorship. We are now becoming the world leaders in censorship. And we are being watched very closely from abroad.

British-based sites have had to make stringent age checks since 2010, using credit cards, the electoral roll and credit reference agencies. It's a quite intrusive means of identifying age, said Chris Ratcliff, chief executive of Portland TV, which runs Television X. Many customers simply go elsewhere, he said. Ratcliff, a key member of the DPA's age verification working group, expects government action by the end of the year.

According to Tory proposals, a regulator would have the power to block sites that don't use stringent enough checks. Observers believe this will be the Authority for Television on Demand (Atvod), which currently enforces age-check and obscenity rules on UK streaming video sites. The result of ATVOD's 'enforcement' is that it is near impossible to run a UK site within the current rules and has led to the UK industry losing out to foreign operations.

The legal situation is also confused. Ratcliff said it was unclear whether new rules would make content not behind age filters illegal. Jackman added:

As a matter of international law, I don't understand how it can possibly work. And I don't understand how it can work under the Obscene Publications Act. It's just being made up as they go along.

The stub of the UK adult trade that has been persevering with ludicrous British censorship required, eg Ofcom rules only allowing softcore TV, believe that acceptable age verification may be a benefit, but this seems unlikely. As with eBay, Amazon, Apple, and Google, once governments start making life tough with onerous rules and red tape, only the largest operation have large enough economies of scale to handle the burdensome expenses, so creating a natural monopoly. and as the US has the largest markets, so they can grab the lion's share of the market.

And as for the kids, there's already enough porn knocking around on hard drives to keep them happy for decades. Perhaps they will just go back to swapping porn mags, or the modern day equivalent, 64GByte memory sticks with enough porn to last a year.

And as a final thought, It is not clear that the security services would be very impressed if half the population of Britain were forced into using VPNs and the like. It would make life an awful lot tougher to keep track of the bad guys.



Updated: 'Creative' Market Research...

Open letter to the NSPCC about using questionable evidence from low quality survey to call for more internet censorship

Link Here 23rd April 2015
The letter below was sent to Peter Wanless, CEO of the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), on 10th March. It is signed by leading academics, sex educators, journalists and campaigners.

Dear Mr Wanless,

We write to express our deep concern about a report you published last week, which received significant press coverage. The report claimed that a tenth of 12-13 year olds believe they are addicted to pornography, and appears to have been fed to the media with accompanying quotes suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people.

Your study appears to rely entirely on self-report evidence from young people of 11 and older, and so is not -- as it has been presented -- indicative of actual harm but rather, provides evidence that some young people are fearful that pornography is harming them. In other words, this study looks at the effects on young people of widely published but unevidenced concerns about pornography, not the effects of pornography itself.

It appears that your study was not an academic one, but was carried out by a "creative market research" group called OnePoll. We are concerned that you, a renowned child protection agency, are presenting the findings of an opinion poll as a serious piece of research. Management Today recently critiqued OnePoll in an article that opened as follows: "What naive readers may not realise is that much of what is reported as scientific is not in fact genuine research at all, but dishonest marketing concocted by PR firms."

There have been countless studies into the effects of porn since the late 1960s, and yet the existence of the kinds of harm you report remains contested. In fact, many researchers have reached the opposite conclusion: that increased availability of porn correlates with healthier attitudes towards sex, and with steadily reducing rates of sexual violence. For example, the UK government's own research (1) generated the following conclusion in 2005: "There seems to be no relationship between the availability of pornography and an increase in sex crimes ...; in comparison there is more evidence for the opposite effect."

The very existence of "porn addiction" is questionable, and it is not an accepted medical condition. Dr David J Ley, a psychologist specialising in this field, says: "Sex and porn can cause problems in people's lives, just like any other human behavior or form of entertainment. But, to invoke the idea of "addiction" is unethical, using invalid, scientifically and medically-rejected concepts to invoke fear and feed panic." (2)

Immediately following the release of your report, the Culture Secretary Sajid Javid announced that the Tories would be introducing strong censorship of the Internet if they win the next election, in order to "protect children" from pornography. The Culture Secretary's new announcement would probably lead to millions of websites being blocked by British ISPs, should it come into force. We would point out the experience of the optional "porn filters", introduced in early 2014, which turned out in practise to block a vast range of content including sex education material.

The BBC news website quotes you as saying, in response to the minister's announcement: "Any action that makes it more difficult for young people to find this material is to be welcomed." We disagree: we believe that introducing Chinese-style blocking of websites is not warranted by the findings of your opinion poll, and that serious research instead needs to be undertaken to determine whether your claims of harm are backed by rigorous evidence.

Jerry Barnett, CEO Sex & Censorship
Frankie Mullin, Journalist
Clarissa Smith, Professor of Sexual Cultures, University of Sunderland
Julian Petley, Professor of Screen Media, Brunel University
David J. Ley PhD. Clinical Psychologist (USA)
Dr Brooke Magnanti
Feona Attwood, Professor of Media & Communication at Middlesex University
Martin Barker, Emeritus Professor at University of Aberystwyth
Jessica Ringrose, Professor, Sociology of Gender and Education, UCL Institute of Education
Ronete Cohen MA, Psychologist
Dr Meg John Barker, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, The Open University
Kath Albury, Associate Professor, UNSW Australia
Myles Jackman, specialist in obscenity law
Dr Helen Hester, Middlesex University
Justin Hancock, youth worker and sex educator
Ian Dunt, Editor in Chief,
Ally Fogg, Journalist
Dr Emily Cooper, Northumbria University
Gareth May, Journalist
Dr Kate Egan, Lecturer in Film Studies, Aberystwyth University
Dr Ann Luce, Senior Lecturer in Journalism and Communication, Bournemouth University
John Mercer, Reader in Gender and Sexuality, Birmingham City University
Dr. William Proctor, Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communication, Bournemouth University
Dr Jude Roberts, Teaching Fellow, University of Surrey
Dr Debra Ferreday, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Lancaster University
Jane Fae, author of "Taming the beast" a review of law/regulation governing online pornography
Michael Marshall, Vice President, Merseyside Skeptics Society
Martin Robbins, Journalist
Assoc. Prof. Paul J. Maginn (University of Western Australia)
Dr Lucy Neville, Lecturer in Criminology, Middlesex University
Alix Fox, Journalist and Sex Educator
Dr Mark McCormack, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Durham University
Chris Ashford, Professor of Law and Society, Northumbria University
Diane Duke, CEO Free Speech Coalition (USA)
Dr Steve Jones, Senior Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University
Dr Johnny Walker, Lecturer in Media, Northumbria University

Update: NSPCC's shoddy political campaigning gets picked up by the Independent

13th April 2015.

The open letter has been picked up by both the Independent and the website

The Independent leads

NSPCC accused of risking its reputation and whipping up moral panic with study into porn addiction among children

The NSPCC has been accused of deliberately whipping up a moral panic with a study suggesting a tenth of all 12- to 13-year-olds fear they are addicted to pornography.

In an open letter to the child protection organisation's chief executive Peter Wanless, a group of doctors, academics, journalists and campaigners criticised the NSPCC for suggesting that pornography is causing harm to new generations of young people .

See  article from

Meanwhile note that the NSPCC research was hogwash

How the NSPCC lost its way.

Late last month, the NSPCC released some startling findings. A tenth of all 12-to-13-year-olds were addicted to porn, it found. One in five had been shocked or upset by the things they'd found online. Twelve per cent had made their own porn.

The findings were widely reported . Immediately afterwards, culture secretary Sajid Javid promised new censorship measures, with a regulator ensuring adult sites have age verification technology to prevent young people accessing porn.

The cycle from research to reporting to promises of legislation was accomplished in the space of a morning. It was a remarkably effective operation.

The only problem was, it was all nonsense. The NSPCC research was hogwash.

See  article from

Update: The Guardian enters the fray

14th April 2015.

Children addicted to porn Don't believe everything the surveys say

OnePoll was behind a recent survey revealing that 20% of people believe that smoking has improved their career opportunities . This one was commissioned by an E-cigarette company . A poll commissioned during National Ferry Fortnight for Discover Ferries -- which had just invested heavily in improved seating -- revealed that travellers really hate aircraft seats. You get the picture.

See  article from

Update: The NSPCC responds: The ends justifies the shoddy means

23rd April 2015. See  article from

Dear Mr Barnett

Thank you for your letter detailing your concerns about our recently launched porn campaign for young people and a poll that was published with it.

As you will be aware the NSPCC has a long tradition of campaigning on difficult issues that affect children. Our work is solely designed to make the most difference to the protection of children. Through our various services, including ChildLine, we listen to the voices of children day in day out and it is essential that we respond to their concerns and help them confront and address issues that they find worrisome. Porn is a subject which has always drawn strong debate but that doesn't mean that we should shy away from what children are telling us.

As you will expect we make no judgment on adults viewing porn. But we know through those who call ChildLine, that children can be worried and upset by the effect pornography is having on them. A recent European-wide piece of research into violence and abuse in teenage relationships found a high proportion of boys in England regularly viewed pornography, and one in five harbored extremely negative attitudes towards women. High levels of sexual coercion and in some cases violence within teenage relationships were reported. We believe that as a society we need to ensure that children are both protected and educated in the best way possible. Rather than seek to restrict debate we seek to promote it for it is only when subjects are not allowed to remain in the shadows that they can be properly dealt with.

As a campaigning organisation, the NSPCC uses a wide range of methods to listen to the voices of children, parents, carers and professionals. We continue to explore how sensitive subjects, including pornography, are affecting young people. This will no doubt uncover difficult and complex issues; and we must work together as a society to address these challenges.

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive, NSPCC



Update: Scammer's Charter...

Tories' election pledge to introduce website age restrictions is more worrying than it appears

Link Here 18th April 2015



Offsite Article: Reality Check...

Link Here7th April 2015
A quick skim over some of the online age verification issues about porn website restrictions

See article from



Offsite Article: Doing the Decent Thing...

Link Here 6th April 2015
Calling on porn sites to protect on-line youngsters by blocking links to the Conservative Party

See article from



Update: The Nasty Party...

Tories will block all internet porn if they win the election

Link Here 4th April 2015
The government has been trailing this policy by forcing onerous age verification requirements on British adult Video on Demand websites. Unfortunately there is currently no economically viable way to implement age verification and the net result is that pretty much the entire British VoD business has either been forced to close or else move overseas.

Widening out the policy to all internet porn will not do anything to make age verification practical and so the only possible outcome is that all internet porn will have to be blocked by the ISPs. Perhaps a few sites with a massively comprehensive selection of porn (think porn Amazon) may be able absorb the administrative burden, but they will for sure be American.

Anyway this is what the Tories are proposing:

It's time to protect children online

By Sajid Javi, Culture & Censorship Secretary, writing for the Daily Mail

Imagine a 12-year-old-boy being allowed to walk into a sex shop and leave with a DVD showing graphic, violent sexual intercourse and the subjugation of women.

You would, quite rightly, ask whether society should allow such a young mind to view hard-core pornography. I'm sure we'd all agree that the answer would be an emphatic no .

Yet each and every day children right across our country are being exposed to such images. And it's happening online.

The internet has been an amazing force for good in so many ways. But it also brings new threats and challenges for us to contend with. I'm a father of four young children and I know all too well that the online world can be a worrying place for mums and dads. After all, even the most attentive and engaged parents cannot know for sure which websites our children are visiting and what images they're seeing. Culture and Media Secretary Sajid Javid is setting out plans to shield youngsters from easy access to hardcore online pornography

Culture and Media Secretary Sajid Javid is setting out plans to shield youngsters from easy access to hardcore online pornography

In 2015 anyone, regardless of their age, is only ever two clicks away from the kind of material that would be kept well away from young eyes in the high street. And allowing young people to access pornography carries alarming consequences both for individuals and for society. It can lead to children pressuring each other to try out things they've seen online, and sharing inappropriate sexual pictures and videos. And it can lead to children having unhealthy attitudes towards sex AND relationships.

It is because of these types of concerns that we have long restricted and regulated adult content in the offline world -- whether that is magazines, TV programmes, DVDs or video-on-demand content. Such protections are taken for granted, and, as the Daily Mail has argued for years, it's time our approach to the online world caught up.

So today we are announcing that, if the Conservatives win the next general election, we will legislate to put online hard-core pornography behind effective age verification controls.

Of course adults should be perfectly free to look at these sites. But if websites showing adult content don't have proper age controls in place -- ones that will stop children looking at this kind of material -- they should and will be blocked altogether. No sex shop on the high street would be allowed to remain open if it knowingly sold pornography to underage customers, and there is no reason why the internet should be any different.

An independent regulator will oversee this new system. It will determine, in conjunction with websites, how age verification controls will work and how websites that do not put them in place will be blocked.

One thing is absolutely clear: the Conservative Party's commitment to child safety online. For the past five years we have been working with industry on A voluntary basis, an approach that led to the creation of default-on family filters. But filtering is just one way in which we can keep our children safe online. Now we can -- and must -- go further to give our children the best start in life.

There will be some who say that this exercise is futile, that websites and children alike will find ways to get around this law. And I agree that there are always people who try to avoid legal restrictions. But we must not let the best be the enemy of the good.

It is right that we act now and do what we can to restrict this content. It is right that we have the same rules applying online as we do offline. And it is right that we do everything we can to protect our children.

If we fail to take action, there is every chance that the sort of things children see on these websites will be considered normal by the next generation. That is not the sort of society I want to see and it's certainly not the sort of society I want my children to live in.

Over time Britain's laws have evolved to reflect our most deeply held values and beliefs, and the protection of children has long been a sacrosanct principle at the heart of that. I don't believe that we should abandon such an important principle simply because the latest threat to our young people comes from a technology that also brings incredible benefits.

There is a choice at this election, and it is between a party which backs families wants to give children the best start in life, and a chaotic Labour Party with no plan.

We are clear: adults should and will be free to view legal content, but we would never stand by and allow that 12-year-old boy to buy hardcore pornography from a sex shop.

It's time to make sure our children are just as well protected online as they are on the high street.



Offsite Article: ATVOD: Is It Time to Choose a Side?...

Link Here 22nd March 2015
If they were the mafia, their fees would be termed protection money and their business model would be extortion. By Ben Yates

See article from



Offsite Article: Discriminatory Censorship...

Link Here 15th February 2015
New UK Regs Will Set Back Women in Porn. By Nichi Hodgson

See article from



Update: Common Media Censorship Standards...

So what is the Government's internet censorship group up to?

Link Here 19th September 2014
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) describes itself as a group of more than 200 organisations drawn from across government, industry, law, academia and charity sectors that work in partnership to help keep children safe online.

The group meets quarterly and the last published minutes reveal discussions about:

Common Media Censorship Standards

Ofcom has begun work to develop a common framework for media standards as set out in last year's Connectivity, Content and Consumers paper. Audiences continue to wish for certain fundamental protections and the safeguarding of critical freedoms. Protection of children should be the starting point of any debate about protections across media. Future protection frameworks should include a mix of regulation, self-regulation and self-imposed standards and measures that empower people to manage their and their families' access to media. Ofcom is planning to carry out research and analysis and develop options for Government

Over Blocking is presumably making it impractical for parents to opt for website blocking

The over blocking reporting process will be accessed via Internet Matters and web site owners can use this single location to reach BT, BskyB, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. Details about how it will be publicised will be discussed on 11th July.

Members of the public are already able to report when they think a website has been unfairly blocked - when they attempt to access a blocked site, a splash page comes up explaining that it has been blocked and there is a link allowing the user to report. This is currently in place with all four ISPs.

Age verification

Rachel O'Connell, UKCCIS lead on age verification, poke about the age verification working group and her recent briefing paper, Age Verification: New Possibilities. E-ID provides a method to verify age and is starting to be introduced across Europe. There is an opportunity to revisit age verification, it is a big commercial opportunity and could provide an opportunity for big savings. Age is an attribute of ID, if you've proven your age with your bank, or your mobile phone company for instance, you should be able to use this so you only have to verify your age once. Rachel recommended fostering children's participation without stifling innovation.

Rachel continued that there is a strong assumption that mobile, and mobile payments will drive demand for E-ID. Vocalink for example, is introducing an app that will check age. Rachel recommended that banks are asked to start collecting data on the age of those 17 and under with bank cards - when a user makes a card payment, as well as checking that the money is available in their account, the system should also check the user's age is appropriate to purchase the product or service. Rachel felt that this would also be a priority for retail, as age verification is a fundamental need for development of online lockers, and the potential for federated age verification token would cut costs phenomenally.


ATVOD supports existing initiatives to improve take up of parental controls and the legislation to remove any doubt that material that would be rated R18 by the British Board of Film Classification must be put behind access controls on regulated UK-based services. There is work to be done at an EU and international level. The payments industry have made clear that they would prevent UK payments to foreign websites which allow children to view hard-core porn if it was clear that such websites were operating in breach of UK law



Update: Anti-Pornography Default Setting...

Geraint Davies introduces nonsense private members bill for new computers to be sold with censorship enabled

Link Here 19th September 2014
This Bill was presented to Parliament on 10 September 2014. This is known as the first reading and there was no debate on the Bill at this stage.

This Bill is expected to have its second reading debate on 7 November 2014.

This Bill is a Private Member's Bill. These are often not printed until close to the second reading debate.

So far the only available information is the smmary:

A Bill to prohibit the distribution of sexually explicit images via the internet and text message without the consent of the subjects of the images; to provide that mobile phones and other devices capable of connection to the internet be set by manufacturers as a default to deny access to pornography; and for connected purposes



Update: Blocking Discrimination...

Symantec to remove censorship category for blocking gay lifestyle websites

Link Here 17th September 2014
One of the biggest web censorship services in the world has announced they are scrapping blocks on gay and lesbian content.

Symantec, the online security firm behind Norton, has routinely been censorsing out LGBTI websites offering news, charity and support. The lifestyle-sexual orientation category will now be removed from its databases. Fran Rosch, executive vice president for Norton products said:

Making this change was not only the right thing to do, it was a good business decision. Having a category in place that could be used to filter out all LGBT-oriented sites was inconsistent with Symantec's values and the mission of our software.

While Symantec will allow customers to set their search to block adult oriented websites, there will no longer be an option to block websites just because they have LGBTI content.



Update: Oh dear! Parents appreciate the choice to make up their own minds...

Just 12% of new subscribers opt for network level website blocking designed for child protection

Link Here23rd July 2014
Ofcom has published a report outlining the uptake and implementation of optional network blocking offerings from the four main broadband ISPs in the UK.

The most interesting point was the low take up of the website blocking option from 3 of the 4 ISPs

Note 9 is that 4.5% of BT opted for network level blocking but another 4.5 opted for the more tailorable device level blocking in the form of software to run on each device.

Note 10 is that 33% of subscribers opted for virus blocking but on 4% for child protection blocking.

TalkTalk made a big thing of offering network level child protection website blocking a year before the other ISPs. So presumably many of the new subscribers that particularly wanted the blocking opted for TalkTalk.

Using an 2013 estimate of subscriber base of 7.3 million for BT, 5.2 for Sky, 4.5 for Virgin and 4.2 for TalkTalk reveals an estimate that 11.7% of new subscribers opted for network level website blocking designed for child protection.

Interesting Ofcom neglected to mention this very important low take up in its press release accompanying the report which is reproduced in full below.

Ofcom Report on Internet safety measures - Internet Service Providers: Network level filtering measures

Ofcom has today published a for Government outlining measures the UK's largest internet service providers have put in place to help parents protect children from harmful content online.

This follows an agreement between the Government and BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, the four largest fixed line internet service providers (ISPs), announced in . Each ISP committed to offer new customers family-friendly network-level filtering by the end of December 2013.

This is the second of three reports the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has asked Ofcom to produce on internet safety measures to protect children. The DCMS asked Ofcom to look at the approach taken by each ISP to implement family-friendly filtering services which block content that may be inappropriate or harmful for children, rather than assess the effectiveness of the filters.

The report also describes measures taken by ISPs to present a pre-ticked unavoidable choice to new customers on whether or not to activate the filter, and includes initial take-up data among new customers offered filters.

The filters apply to all web based internet content, on any device that is connected to the fixed broadband network in the home.

Report findings

The report finds that the four ISPs now have a network level family friendly filtering service, which is offered to new customers. New subscribers receive a prompt from their ISP during the broadband set-up process, describing the filtering service and offering the consumer a pre-ticked option to use the filtering service.

The filters allow a user to manage access in their home to a range of internet services, helping parents to prevent their children accessing content that is not appropriate for them.

There are a number of filtering categories common to all four ISPs. Suicide and self-harm, pornography, file sharing, crime, drugs, violence and hate are covered by each provider's classification systems.

By the Government's target of December 2013, BT, Sky, and TalkTalk each offered a filtering service allowing parents to restrict categories of online content, and presented new users with the unavoidable choice of whether to activate the filters.

Virgin Media launched its network level filter in February 2014. When it launched, it was not able to implement an unavoidable choice for all new customers, and estimated this was offered to about a third (35%) of new customers. To help address this shortfall, Virgin Media implemented additional ways for the customer to choose filtering, after the initial set-up.

Next steps

The ISPs are currently working towards meeting their commitment to Government to contact all their existing customers and present them with an unavoidable choice about whether or not to install the family friendly content filters by the end of 2014.

Ofcom is due to produce the third in this series of reports in December 2014. This will review Ofcom's Media Literacy research from 2014 on parental strategies for protecting children online.

Specifically, it will look at how take-up, awareness of and confidence of parents in relation to parental controls has changed since its first report published in . It will assess the broader strategies parents may adopt to improve children's online safety and will provide a more complete set of data on which to draw clearer conclusions.



Offsite Article: Hey, O2 Wifi Your filters are leaky...

Link Here 17th July 2014
Using HTTPS confounds website blocking by O2 on public wifi

See article from



Update: Which ISP?...

Blocking report for

Link Here6th July 2014
ORG have set up an internet service to check which ISPs block websites that the user is interested in. Here are the results for .

The results presented below may be different to your experience depending on the level of filtering configured on your network.

ISP Result Last check on Last blocked on
AAISP ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
BT ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
EE blocked 2014-06-30 22:10:20 2014-06-30 22:10:20
O2 blocked 2014-07-02 17:34:56 2014-07-02 17:34:56
Sky blocked 2014-07-02 17:34:56 2014-07-02 17:34:56
TalkTalk ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
Three blocked 2014-05-27 22:21:23 2014-05-27 22:21:23
VirginMedia ok 2014-07-02 17:34:56 No record of prior block
Vodafone blocked 2014-07-02 17:34:56 2014-07-02 17:34:56


ORG explains the level of blocking that the website tests against:

We're testing using the default "adult content" filter levels for each network. Where an ISP provided their service with a level of filtering active by default we chose not to change these settings. For lines that came with no filtering active by default we activated the "medium" filtering level where a choice of filters was offered. If the choice was just filtering: yes or no, we chose yes. Some networks do not offer controls to activate filtering or change filter settings on their services. This means the active level of filtering varies across our test lines

Try the service at



Update: Blocked...

ORG's Blocked project finds almost 1 in 5 sites are blocked by UK ISPs' filters

Link Here2nd July 2014

Today, Open Rights Group relaunched

A Porsche broker, a political blogger and a mum hoping to read an article about post pregnancy care are among those that have been affected by Internet filters, designed to protect young people from adult content.

In 2012 we published the Mobile Filtering Report , investigating the way default blocking on mobile phones was denying people access to important information. We reported on what has seemed like rather arbitrary censorship, such as the New Wine church block. ORG analysed and drew examples from our site at which originally allowed people to submit when they found that a site had been blocked.

Now the full extent of Internet blocking can be revealed by our relaunched Blocked project .

Any web users can use the free checking tool on where they can instantly check to see if a website has been blocked by filters. Our tool checks the submitted url for blocks across the main Internet networks on both broadband and phone. We have test lines from 3, Andrews & Arnold, BT, Everything Everywhere, O2, Plusnet, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

Through the Blocked project we wanted to find out about the impact of web filters. So far Open Rights Group has tested over 100,000 sites and found that over 19,000 - almost one in five - are blocked by one ISP or another. The problem of overblocking is not going away. Different ISPs are blocking different sites and the result is that many people, from businesses to bloggers, are being affected because people can't access their websites.

We've found that there is a lack of information about how to get sites unblocked. Mother-of-one Marielle, said she was 'humiliated' when she visited the Three store to find out how she could order to access an article about post-partum care on her phone: "The manager told me that I couldn't access filtered articles without entering a 4 digit pin every time I wanted to read a filtered article because I had a PAYG plan." Marielle submitted a report to Three saying that the article had been incorrectly blocked but didn't get a response.

There are more personal stories on the Blocked site and we'd like to hear from you if you've been affected by filters.

We'd like to thank our supporters who committed to make this project happen. ORG's team of technical volunteers worked with us to build the systems and software for this project and we're very grateful for their time. We couldn't have done this without the support of our community, so thank you.

How you can help Blocked?

Test your url:

Spread the word: @We want as many people as possible to talk about how filtering effects them. It's only through being vocal that we'll be able to change the Government's attitude to Internet censorship.

Join ORG: By joining ORG you can help us continue to provide Blocked for free and support our on-going development of the tool.



Update: Web of Deceit...

The Bilderberg Group and Elite Powerbrokers Linked to the UK's Stealth Internet Censorship Coup

Link Here14th June 2014



Offsite Article: What it takes to get EE to enable the Porn on my Wireless Broadband...

Link Here27th May 2014
Because not everyone is going to have the nerve to walk into an EE shop and ask to have Porn enabled on their Wireless Broadband. After all, there might be children present.

See article from



Comment: Britannia Rules the Internet Waves...

Labour's Helen Goodman proposes a licensing scheme for foreign porn sites

Link Here 22nd May 2014
Labour's Helen Goodman, Shadow Minister for Culture, Media and Sport, has tabled a number of amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill which will be debated by MPs in Parliament on Monday, May 12. Goodman said:

Goodman's amendment proposes that foreign porn submit themselves to a UK licensing scheme complete with criminal sanctions if they don't.

I haven't spotted anything coming of Goodman's proposals so far.

Comment: Authoritarian bullshit

22nd May 2014. From Alan

The mind boggles!

How does this idiot hope to enforce this nasty piece of authoritarian bullshit? I bet the pornmakers of California are wetting themselves with fear that they are committing a criminal offence in England. The only potential victims are British people who run a porn site but have the good sense to host it in a sane and rational country.

And isn't it time somebody stood up for younger consumers of pornography? I bought my first mucky magazine when I was about fourteen. I wouldn't have thanked some daft old besom who said I couldn't buy it until I was eighteen. Half a century on, I would hope that the modern lad (or girl) is capable of evading parents and parliamentarians to get hold of a bit of smut



Offsite Article: Censorship In The UK: The Internet, Media Myths And The Porn Panic...

Link Here20th May 2014
No censorship plan could be complete without fearmongering. And as is often the case, the enemy these days is dirty, filthy, child-corrupting, woman-defiling, enemy-of-the-family, soul destroying sex. Well, porn, to be precise.

See article from



Update: Unnoticed Internet Matters...

ISPs launch another website outlining parental control options for the internet

Link Here 15th May 2014
BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky have launched Another website which provides tips and resources on internet child safety. The sponsors hope that it will become a household name and encourage parents to talk to their children about keeping safe online.

The companies involved have also committed to the ongoing marketing of Internet Matters in communications with existing customers using emails, displaying the logo on bills and having information about the initiative on their websites.

Internet Matters is not the first cross-industry initiative developed to promote children's safety online. But such sites seemed doomed to obscurity as, by design, they are targetting people who haven't taken much interest so far. And the information provided is old hat and basic to those that have already taken an interest in these things.



Update: TalkTalk CensorCensor...

More crap website blocking hits the news

Link Here 29th April 2014
Broadband ISP TalkTalk has come under fire for blocking access to the women's rights website

One TalkTalk customer quipped via Twitter:

TalkTalk_UK blocks me from sherights article on 'dude feminism.' Reason: 'Pornography.'

Turns out the whole site is blocked. Heaven forbid kids learn about gender equality, right?

The efficacy of censorship through website blocking has been brought under scrutiny in recent times, as rather than block porn as advertised, the algorithms block more or less anything with a few adult terms.

When the negativity got too much, TalkTalk predictably unblocked the website but no doubt there are millions more that have not achieved the necessary outrage and are quietly being suffocated by the blocking.

It would be interesting to see if the crap blocking is affecting take up. If parent's favourite websites get blocked then surely they will be likely to turn it off entirely.



Offsite Article: UK Filters And The Slippery Slope Of Mass Censorship...

Link Here23rd April 2014
From the slip-slip-sliding-your-freedoms-away dept

See article from



Offsite Article: UK gov wants 'unsavoury' web content censored...

Link Here16th March 2014
The UK minister for immigration and security has called for the government to do more to deal with 'unsavoury', rather than illegal, material online.

See article from



Update: Despoiled...

Virgin introduces its website blocking system

Link Here1st March 2014
Virgin Media has introduced its website blocking system, to censor access to anything and everything remotely adult.

Called Web Safe, this will initially be presented as an option to new customers and will appear during the installation of a new broadband connection. They will be able to decide whether to implement the website blcoking or not.

Existing customers will also have access to the blocking system, with Virgin Media contacting the entire subscription base with instructions by the end of 2014.

As with similar schemes offered by Sky and BT, Virgin Media's Web Safe programme works at network level, and is not able to offer different options for different family members. So if the blocking is turned on, it will work across all devices that connect to that home network.

It is too soon to say whether Virgin Media's filter system will suffer from the same issues as reported with its rivals, including the over-zealous blocking of websites. However the blocking is more simplistic than other ISPs with just a simple on/off option.



Offsite Article: Is a restricted Internet our 21st century Prohibition? It's starting in Britain...

Link Here22nd February 2014
The fact that this new form of censorship is being directed by a government that has overseen widespread electronic mass surveillance of its people suggests they may soon alienate those that value their freedom.

See article from



Update: Playing Easily Outraged...

The Telegraph has a knock at Google's Play Store after one parent complains that adult books are sold side by side with children's books

Link Here 17th February 2014
The Daily Telegraph has decided to take a pop at Google's Play Store for mobile apps. There doesn't seem much evidence of 'outrage' but when did that ever stop the tabloids.

The Telegraph rolls out the outrage bandwagon:

Google is profiting from the sale of hundreds of pornographic images and books depicting sadistic acts, incest and rape which are readily available to children. It is selling titles with graphic images and content alongside children's literature on its Google Play book store.

More than 100 of the books are in fact little more than pornographic magazines and openly advertise the fact that they contain hundreds of graphic images. Free samples are available to download, and they can be accessed on computers, tablets and mobile phones.

Despite the graphic nature of the images Google has no age verification in place or parental restrictions, other than requiring a child to declare that they are aged 13 and above to use the Google Play store.

One parent wrote to her MP, Stephen Barclay to raise her concerns after discovering that her son had been downloading the images on his phone:

I feel they are not bothered about this problem. I don't think many parents are aware of this situation so [they] are unable to keep their children safe, as Google keeps advertising. I would like ... to find a solution through government to put a stop to this situation and make Google more responsible.

A Google spokesman said that the company did not issue age-ratings for books because there is no certification system. The company argues that:

A 13--year-old could freely walk into any book store and browse/purchase any book he/she chose to pick up.



Update: Blocking Transparency...

Sex and Censorship call on the public to expose the disgraceful, negligent and secretive website blocking algorithms used by ISPs

Link Here 8th February 2014
When the large ISPs rolled out their poorly-named porn filters in December, they all arrived missing an essential feature: a tool to check whether each filter blocked a specific URL or not. Without these tools from Sky , BT or TalkTalk , anti-filter campaigners resorted to using the only such service available, which happened to be from O2 . O2 , being a mobile provider, had actually been filtering content since 2004, but its URL checker ( ) had largely been ignored for several years.

The storm of abuse that O2 received in December was therefore quite unfair: it was targeted, not for being the worst offender, but for being the most transparent of all the mobile and broadband Internet providers. Unsurprisingly, it wasn't long before O2 took its URL checking service offline; and although the company denies this was done to stop people sending angry tweets, the page is still offline today, displaying the message:

Our URL checker is currently unavailable as we are updating the site.

Perhaps the provider really is updating the site... but let's not hold our breaths. If I were a manager at O2 , I probably would have reached the same conclusion: there's no point being transparent when transparency is bad for business. Every other ISP, watching O2's support Twitter ID get bombarded during early December, will have also decided not to offer an online URL checker. Quite simply, market forces will punish any provider that breaks from the pack and provides information about how its filter works, and which sites it blocks.

It is therefore disgraceful that the government allowed the filtering to be put in place without mandating provider transparency. Countless sites have undoubtedly been blocked in error, but it is very difficult to find out which ones are blocked by which providers.

Sadly, we cannot expect Claire Perry MP, who is responsible for this mess, to call for this problem to be remedied. Transparency will reveal the huge extent of overblocking, which will be as bad for her career as it is for ISPs reputations.

It is up to the public to expose this deliberate suppression of information, and to shame government into action. If you care about Internet freedom, please tweet BT , TalkTalk , Sky , David Cameron and Claire Perry to ask why we cannot easily see what is being censored; and also ask O2 when their URL checker will be back online. Use the #CensoredUK hashtag in your tweets, and we will retweet them!



Offsite Article: Self-regulation cannot be anything other than a very short term, and very imperfect, solution...

Link Here5th February 2014
Elspeth Howe explains why she is continuing to push for internet wrecking censorship in the name of protecting the children

See article from



Offsite Article: UK Government Admits Filters Have Failed...

Link Here 3rd February 2014
The government can't hope to prevent overblocking any more than the ISPs can, but at least they can ensure that key UK charities are not blocked. This announcement is an admission of failure.

See article from



Update: Blocking her Eyes and Ears...

Claire Perry in denial over crap website blocking algorithms

Link Here 30th January 2014
Reports that ISPs' website blocking algorithms are targeting legitimate sites are fanciful , according to David Cameron's personal Mary Whitehouse, MP Claire Perry.

Perry dismissed recent reports that the newly implemented filters were blocking harmless sites - including her own - as anecdotal evidence . She made her claims at a Westminster eForum event:

When these filters came out there was anecdotal evidence, some of it completely, completely fanciful, that sites were being overblocked. Including mine, which is ridiculous, because it wasn't

There's no database, there's no surveillance, there's no mad sense of government interference that people like to talk about. The filters you get [now] are far better, far stronger, much more effective and will not overblock.

Contrary to her comments, ISPs have faced continued criticism for blocking harmless sites.

Jane Fae, who campaigns against unfair blocking, has responded to Perry's claims:

Given that much of the evidence of overblocking takes the form of individual stories, subsequently verified by journalists such as myself, it is probably correct to state that these are anecdotes - but hardly helpful. After all, what other form would evidence of overblocking take?

At a meeting earlier this month, members of parliament heard significant evidence from a range of groups as to the sorts of overblocking that was going on. This ranged from filter systems that allow adults to block access by abuse victims to sites where they can seek help, to a wholly legitimate business site that appears to be being blocked for no better reason than that its owner is a transgender businesswoman.

It is clear that there are issues with filtering - and for the government's adviser on this subject to dismiss all evidence of this fact in such a cavalier fashion is wholly irresponsible.

I hope she will take up my offer to meet, and i will be happy to provide her with the more than ample evidence that has been amassed on this topic already.



Updated: Legendary Crap Filtering...

Video game updates blocked by shoddy ISP website blocking

Link Here 23rd January 2014

Negligent website blocking taking full effect in the U.K. this month is causing problems for some League of Legends users who haven't called their ISPs to opt out of the screening. It seems the patcher is trying to access a couple of URLs with the letters S and E followed by X in them, and that's enough to get a block.

Summoner Boompje noticed this a couple of days ago , posting about it on both League of Legends' official European forums and in the game's subreddit . The offending URLs are a couple of files---Varu sEx pirationTimer.luaobj and XerathMageChain sEx tended.luaobj.

Still, for a controversial policy that has kicked out its share of anecdotal, unintended victims, snaring a League of Legends patch shows how unsophisticated things can be.

For anyone affected, the simplest solution is the best: just ask the ISP to turn off the filter. For kids in a household that won't remove the filter, the alternative would seem to be getting the patch as a .zip file from a friend.

Update: Not so fast!

23rd January 2013. See  article from

Speculation that updates for the League of Legends game were blocked by ISPs' adult-content filters is incorrect, PC Pro has learned

Although the ISPs haven't fully detailed how their filters work, PC Pro understands that none block files in the way described above - they block specific URLs, rather than downloads.

Sky told PC Pro that League of Legends is still available to customers. BT said it had yet to receive any complaints.



Update: Toxic Climate...

Demented campaigners blame online porn for contributing to a toxic climate of stress and pressure

Link Here21st January 2014
Children in Britain are suffering from growing up in a toxic climate of stress and pressure at school and online, according to survey commission by campaigners.

Fear of failure, bullying, the burden of trying to be thin and attractive, and depression were among the multiple threats facing young people. And almost a quarter of youngsters questioned said their relationships with their peers had been harmed after viewing online porn, according to the poll.

The survey, commissioned by the campaign group YoungMinds questioned 2,000 children and young people aged 11 to 25, found that 50% of 11-14 year olds have viewed online porn. The survey also found that children feared exam failure, 50% are bullied, 40% skip meals to stay slim, and a third don't know where to get help (presumably YoungMinds is conveniently willing to step in to help out).



Update: Censorship Without Accountability...

Minority groups meet with MPs to discuss over-blocking by negligent ISP website blocking algorithms

Link Here 16th January 2014

As concern grows that filtering and blocking by internet service providers and mobile companies may be disproportionately targeting minority groups , organisations affected have met with MP's in parliament to assess the scale of the problem and look at ways to make companies that filter more accountable.

Central to the meeting will be claims that filtering systems are disproportionately blocking sites with the least connection to the LGBT community, as well as sites dealing with sex education, violence against women and child abuse.

The meeting also looked at whether the present filtering system is adequately regulated.

The meeting was organised by journalist and campaigner, Jane Fae, who said:

According to David Cameron, filtering is so important that if companies fail to implement it, government is prepared to force them to do so through legislation.

However, this supposedly vital protection for the nation's children has been handed over to a bunch of commercial interests, based for the most part in the United States -- one of just two countries worldwide that refuses to recognise the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

There is no transparency to the solutions applied -- and a strong suspicion that these systems systematically block access to the very sites that vulnerable children most need to access. The excuse that every single block of an LGBT site was a one-off or mistake is beginning to wear thin."

As far as supervision of this system is concerned, that task appears to have been delegated to a sub-committee of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS).

That body, which is heavily skewed towards representing commercial interests and lacks any significant technological expertise in this area has met just once -- some weeks after the new blocking regime was set up.

Government claims that this is an important issue: yet unlike every single other form of censorship in the UK, it is not subject to regulation or independent oversight.

I believe it is time for government to consider the licensing of filtering solutions -- and to refuse licenses to any organisation that fails to explain its filtering adequately or is in breach of basic UK legislation, such as the Equality Act 2010.

Amongst the two dozen organisations that came together to discuss these issues were London Friend and Stonewall, organisations concerned with sex education and abuse, and representatives from relevant trade bodies. MP's Kate Green, Caroline Lucas and John Leech have indicated an interest in this meeting, which was sponsored by Julian Huppert, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, who opened the meeting by setting out his own views on the subject: it was endorsed by publications GayStarNews and Diva

Extract: What was discussed

16th January 2013. See article from by Jane Fae

The following include some of the principle next steps/actions arising from discussion:

- ISP's and mobile operators should be providing a single central point for checking whether something is blocked and by whom

- ISP's and mobile operators should be providing a single central point for objecting to particular blocks

- ISP's/mobile operators should be prepared to open themselves to more techy review of their systems by some of those present and qualified to do so: request to be put back to relevant bodies

...Read the full article



Offsite Article: What does David Cameron's Great Firewall look like?...

Link Here14th January 2014
The PM panders to parents' fears, offers false hope, and imposes a regime of unaccountable censorship. By Cory Doctorow

See article from



Update: Not Fit For Purpose...

LibDems distance themselves from Cameron's crap website blocking scheme

Link Here 11th January 2014
Liberal Democrats have vowed to overturn David Cameron's plans to install crap website blocking systems on home networks by default.

Lib Dem party president Tim Farron said the Government should enshrine the digital rights of the citizen and halt requirement for filters, lists or controls on legal material . R

Farron said filters were misconceived, ineffective and illiberal . A motion set to be adopted at the party's spring conference will say families and individuals should decide how they wish to use them . He warned essential sites on sex education and gay rights were being blocked, while porn was slipping through filters. He said:

Our motion is designed to strengthen Lib Dem ministers' hands in challenging this nonsensical policy, which has yet to be brought before the House of Commons.

If the Prime Minister really wanted to protect children from inappropriate material, he'd ensure they had access to good sexual health and relationship education.

Conservative MP Julian Smith claimed: Tim Farron is clearly putting his Lib Dem leadership ambitions ahead of our children's protection.

Helen Goodman, Labour's media spokesman, said:

It is important our children are protected from 18-rated material. That should not include gay helplines or normal sex education websites but if anything the initial problems strengthen my belief that we need one unified standard and filtering system.

Labour has pledged to bring in mandatory filters if the coalition's voluntary approach is found to have failed. The party wants all filters to abide by British Board of Film Classification ratings.



Offsite Article: ISPs need to be sued way out into the Atlantic...

Link Here10th January 2014
Punishment for hurting the Net and their customers. By Rick Falkvinge

See article from



Offsite Article: Creating a porn filter is one thing, creating a transparent and functional one quite another...

Link Here2nd January 2014
The Government has entrusted the safeguarding of children to a bunch of non-UK, unregulated, commercial interests. By Jane Fae

See article from



Update: Twats Blocked as Promised...

Claire Perry's website blocked by O2's crap blocking system

Link Here 29th December 2013
David Cameron's Mary Whitehouse, Conservative MP Claire Perry has been campaigning for the censorship of the internet via overbroad website blocking well in excess of the claimed porn blocking.

Having got her wish granted she found out for herself, the ISP algorithms are crap and block everything including her own website.

The Independent reports that Perry's site was among those added to the blocked list by O2's blocking system. It's thought all the mentions of porn and sex on her site in relation to why we need such censorship was enough to flag it up as one requiring blocking.

An O2 spokesperson told The Independent that the network had since changed its filter, allowing access to a few of the many negligently blocked sites.



Update: O2 takes down its URL blocking checker...

It provided excellent transparency into what websites were blocked. Unfortunately for O2 this revealed how cheap, shoddy and negligent its blocking algorithm is

Link Here 25th December 2013
Following complaints, media attention and general realisation that O2's website blocking algorithm is shite, O2 have permanently taking down the transparency tool.

While O2 are the only company providing any transparency with their checker , this is a bad move. People need to see how the filters work, and the checker helps them do this.

O2 claimed on the website that the facility closed for maintenance , but no doubt everyone will see through the propaganda bollox an realise the closure is due to bad publicity for the web blocking.

Before being alerted by the media, O2 were blocking general access to Childline, the NSPCC, the Police and many others. Pink News reports that: O2 has labeled Stonewall, BBC News, the Conservative Party and the Number 10 Downing Street website as unsuitable or uninteresting to under 12s.

What this emphasises is that transparency needs to be of right, and not something that can be withdrawn for commercial or public relations purposes. Websites need to identify that they are blocked, or not. Complaints should not only be dealt with because of Twitter campaigns.

ORG is now intending to generate a tool for anybody to check website blocking by any ISP. See project to make filtering and blocking transparent  from



Offsite Article: Discriminatory ISP Blocking?...

Link Here 25th December 2013
The secret censorship stopping you seeing gay websites Companies you have never heard of are busy blacklisting LGBTI websites, and in doing so they may be breaking equality laws

See article from



Updated: O2 Bullshit...

O2 claims that its 'block everything' website censorship system has the BBFC classifying all websites. In fact the BBFC just provides a flimsy set of classification guidelines for ISPs to read (and obviously ignore)

Link Here24th December 2013
An interesting piece from Strange Things Are Happening

Despite Cameron's assurance that only the most pornographic sites would be blocked -- he specifically stated that things like The Sun 's topless Page 3 girls would not be caught by filtering -- it turns out that the companies are all using their own systems, often supplied by filtering companies in the USA and China (yes, a nation that is home to companies that think a female nipple is obscene and a Communist dictatorship where free speech is virtually non-existent) and which use a simplistic, catch-all method of defining porn. And of course, it's not just 'porn' that is being restricted. Adult material was the Trojan Horse used to introduce wholesale blocking of a wide variety of content.

At the moment, only O2 actually allow anyone to check which sites are blocked under their system. You can depress yourself with it here: Naturally, Strange Things Are Happening is forbidden, listed as 'pornography' (here's a challenge -- find me a single genuinely pornographic image on this site). But the last couple of days have seen the internet digging into the filters and finding that, yes, a whole load of innocuous sites are also blocked. These include Childline, The Samaritans, various sex education and domestic abuse sites, the British Library and even and Inevitably, it seems that pretty much every LGBT site is blocked.

Bizarrely, O2 have tried to blame this on the BBFC. The British censors have drawn up guidelines as to what is considered 'adult content' (you can read them here and yes, they are problematic), but they're certainly not vetting individual sites, because that would require a staff a hundred times bigger than the one they have -- but 02 have been telling people on Twitter "all websites are classified by BBFC" , which suggests that either someone doesn't understand how their own system works or that someone is being rather economical with the truth. Because I can pretty much guarantee that the BBFC would not classify The Samaritans or Childline as 'adult content'. Oh, and guess what Mr Cameron? Page 3 is also blocked.

O2 have been explaining their crappy blocking system on Twitter:

O2: @C9J Websites are classified by BBFC ( ) whether 18+ or restricted for under 12 audience, or open for everyone.

Read the full article

So what about the BBFC website classification guidelines?

See mobile internet website classification from

In fact the BBFC guidelines on website classification are almost incompetently flimsy. They have a background that hasn't really prepared them for being used for ISP website blocking. The rules were drawn up by an obscure group (The Independent Mobile Classification Board, IMCB) to classify content for mobile phones. This was before the internet became available on phones and was more about classifying the likes of Playboy video clips that the mobile companies had hoped to sell to their subscribers.

The rules are more about video clips than wider internet conten,t and in fact the BBFC guidelines for film and video censorship map well into this initial requirement. The BBFC recently took over the mobile content censorship task and updated the guidelines in line with current video classification rules.

Another historical characteristic of the guidelines is that they only support 2 classifications:

  1. Available for all (not necessarily suitable for all) or
  2. Restricted to over 18s

However the guidelines are really only based on film/video issues. They simply do not cover the myriad of issues about websites. Eg they do not speak of how website links effect the classification of websites, does a non-porn site linking to a porn site get classified as a porn site. The guidelines speak of frequency of strong language that makes sense in the context of film or video but  say nothing helpful about what frequency means in terms of a multipage website with mixed content.

One wonders how the BBFC would classify its own site given that it has an extensive database of hardcore pornography descriptions. It would be interesting if it declared itself to be age rated.

In fact it would be fascinating to get a few website rating from the BBFC.

What would be the rating of YouTube. It has loads of video 18 rated content (albeit not much hardcore porn). In reality it would be totally untenable to give YouTube any sort of age restricted rating).

We would all be fascinated to know the rating for The Sun's website complete with Page 3.

And of course the ultimate, is know how the Daily Mail website would be officially rated.

Update: BBFC sort out O2 and their bullshit

24th December 2013. From Twitter

In response to bullshit tweets from O2, eg:

O2: @C9J Websites are classified by BBFC ( ) whether 18+ or restricted for under 12 audience, or open for everyone.

The BBFC have tweeted:

We've been working with @ O2 today to correct how they communicate the BBFC's role in classifying content available via mobile phones

We provide the Classification Framework which is applied by @ O2 & their commercial content suppliers ( )



Extract: Crap Website Blocking at BT...

Kids who's parents opt to block gay and sex education sites probably need the information more than most

Link Here 24th December 2013

Over the weekend, people were appalled to discover that BT filters supported homophobia, with a category blocking, sites where the main purpose is to provide information on subjects such as respect for a partner, abortion, gay and lesbian lifestyle, contraceptive, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy.

BT have since reworded this description to remove the gay and lesbian reference , but given that their filtering is provided by an unnamed third party supplier it seems highly unlikely that the filter itself has changed overnight -- merely the description. Such measures would never be taken against the heterosexual lifestyle - this is discrimination, pure and simple, hard-coded into our national communications infrastructure.

Of course it's impossible to see what's been blocked other than through tedious trial and error. One website owner (@pseudomonas) asked BT on Twitter for information about whether their site was blocked, and their experience was something like talking to a brick wall who only speaks French. The bottom line here is that even parents have no idea what they're actually blocking, and we have no way of assessing the harm caused by BT's measures.

...Read the full article

Meanwhile O2 unblock a few high profile unfairly blocked sites, no doubt leaving millions more smaller sites still unfairly blocked

See  article from

The telecoms company O2 has been forced to amend its so-called porn filter after it negligently blocked access to charity sites including ChildLine, the NSPCC and the Samaritans.

The recently unblocked sites are:

  • National charity dedicated to preventing child abuse
  • Online version of the NSPCC's ChildLine helpline for kids in trouble, especially busy at Christmas
  • Highly regarded charity helpline is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and also sees its greatest demand at Christmas
  • Portal to a huge range of government websites
  • Democracy in action
  • British Library, with details of events including latest exhibition, Georgians Revealed
  • Devizes MP Claire Perry, campaigner for tighter controls on internet content

Update: Go Away Cameron

25th December 2013. See

I built this Chrome extension to bypass UK's censorship. It is the easiest way to access blocked sites. Simply install the GAC Chrome extension, login, and the blocked sites are immediately bypassed.




Offsite Article: Ten recommendations to ISPs for dealing with over-blocking...

Link Here21st December 2013
Newsnight has helped demonstrate once again that over blocking by ISPs internet filtering systems is a real and serious

See article from



Offsite Article: Never have so many children been harmed to so little effect...

Link Here20th December 2013
ATVOD held a conference on 12 December on protecting children from online porn. LSE's Benjamin De La Pava reflects on the discussion arguing that there remains little consensus upon which to base policy

See article from



Update: An internet fit for 13 year olds...

Sky Broadband launches its website blocking system

Link Here 5th December 2013
Sky has launched its network-level mature content blocking system.

Called Sky Broadband Shield, the blocking system is available to new and existing Sky customers from today, and will block content if they fall into one of ten categories, including porn, self-harm and suicide. Sky isn't categorising that content itself and is instead working with Symantec.

Customers will have the option of three blocking levels - PG, 13, and 18. The adults-only setting won't block content, but, according to Sky, will provide some defence against phishing attempts and malware.

Users can switch off filtering entirely through their My Sky settings, and parents can also tailor the block list by adding or removing specific sites, as well as switching on or off each of the ten categories.

Since it's a network-level filter, it will implement the same blocking definitions for all devices using that connection.

Any new customers signing up to Sky from today will see a page asking them to approve their blocking settings; the settings for 13-year-olds and up will be pre-ticked.



Update: Awaiting the Announcement...

Open Rights group do a good summary of where we are at with regards to government proposals for extremist website blocking

Link Here 29th November 2013
Rumblings about a forthcoming announcement to block extremism and terrorist content began this summer. Then last month the Prime Minister made comments during Prime Minister's Questions about blocking extremism:

We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force---it met again yesterday---setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites.

Yesterday, in response to a question from Patrick Robinson of Yahoo! at a conference, Home Office Minister James Brokenshire confirmed that an announcement is forthcoming .

The Extremism Task Force , mentioned by the Prime Minister, was set up in the aftermath of the Woolwich murder and is due to report very soon. So one assumes this announcement will likely be related to that.

We don't know what this forthcoming announcement will be. We don't know what sort of content the Government want to see blocked, or why, and how much it extends beyond what already happens through the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit .

There has been no public discussion about this so far. As far as we understand, no freedom of expression groups have been involved. The Guardian suggests the Government want to follow the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) model, who supply Internet Service Providers (ISPs) with a list of child abuse material they then block.

But the Government's policy on extremism content can't just be that ISPs should block sites that have been classified as extreme by some secretive government body, without any court decision about a law being broken or any public, democratic discussion in Parliament about the process involved.

This should not be another drift towards vague, unaccountable and privatised Internet regulation. This sort of Internet regulation is about who decides what we - not just terrorists - can look at and do online.

Once again we see that website blocking has become the go-to button for politicians to press when they need to be seen reacting strongly to the latest media outcry.

But website blocking is not an easy or effective option. Anyone who wants to look at blocked content will find a way to do so - it is fairly simple to get around any blocking for a start. It also, unhelpfully, adds an edginess to blocked material if those making or sharing it can say it is banned by the government.

We also know that unrelated content gets caught by blocking systems. Extremist content is not easy to define. Moreover, as Big Brother Watch point out in their blog, law enforcement agencies can define words like extremism broadly enough to include groups like political activists or protestors who are not terrorists or seemingly breaking any laws. If law enforcement agencies are responsible for drawing up a list of sites to be blocked, it is not a huge stretch of the imagination to think that block lists would include material that is not illegal. By accident or abuse blocking powers are likely to lead to blocking lists featuring content that has little if anything to do with terrorism and national security.

It looks like James Brokenshire and the Home Office are following a well trodden path with this approach. When it comes to the Internet the government seems to like voluntary arrangements in which they arm twist Internet service providers into doing what they want.

That spares the Government from having to deal with complicated issues like involving a court to prove a law has been broken, or a normal policy process that would involve public, democratic scrutiny of their ideas.

The IWF model for dealing with child abuse images is tolerated because their focus is such abhorrent and unequivocally illegal material. This model is not appropriate for less clearly defined content.

Maybe the Government will surprise us with their announcement. But we have seen that when it comes to Internet blocking the government has a tendency to prioritise making favourable headlines above a smart, effective policy fix. So fingers are crossed in hope rather than expectation.



Commented: More Questions than Answers...

David Cameron announces that ISP level website blocking will be applied to terrorist websites

Link Here 28th November 2013
Prime Ministers Questions, 23rd October 2014

Paul Goggins (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab):

Two weeks ago, the head of the Security Service warned about the extent of Islamist extremism. This week, two individuals have been charged with serious terrorist offences. What is the Prime Minister going to do in January when, as a result of his Government's legislation, some of those whom the Home Secretary has judged to pose the greatest threat to our security are released from the provisions of their terrorism prevention and investigation measures?

The Prime Minister:

We have put in place some of the toughest controls that one can possibly have within a democratic Government, and the TPIMs are obviously one part of that. We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force---it met again yesterday---setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites. Now that I have the opportunity, let me praise Facebook for yesterday reversing the decision it took about the showing of beheading videos online. We will take all these steps and many more to keep our country safe.

Offsite Comment: Who decides what we can read

28th November 2013. From

The Prime Minister told Parliament on October 23 that:

We have had repeated meetings of the extremism task force --- it met again yesterday --- setting out a whole series of steps that we will take to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites.

Such an announcement has not been preceded by a public consultation, or any engagement with civil liberties and freedom of speech organisations. The threat the freedom of speech is only too clear.

As we have previously warned around the shift of the child safety debate from illegal content to legal content, there is a danger that politicial figurues become embroiled in deciding what we can and cannot see online. The starting point should be if material meets a criminal threshold, can those involved be prosecuted. Blocking must never become an easier alternative to prosecution.



Update: As if it is not the first thing they look for in all surveillance subjects...

The NSA is said to have targeted muslim extremists by collecting details that could undermine them, including online porn viewing habits

Link Here28th November 2013

The NSA has been collecting details about the online sexual activity of prominent muslim extremists in order to undermine them, according to a new Snowden document published by the Huffington Post .

The American surveillance agency targeted six unnamed radicalisers , none of whom is alleged to have been involved in terror plots. One document argues that if the vulnerabilities they are accused of were to be exposed, this could lead to their devotion to the jihadist cause being brought into question, with a corresponding loss of authority. As an example of vulnerabilities, it lists: Viewing sexually explicit material online or using sexually persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.

The names of the six targeted individuals have been redacted. One is listed as having been imprisoned for inciting hatred against non-Muslims. Under vulnerabilities, the unnamed individual is listed as being involved in online promiscuity .

Shawn Turner, press spokesman for the US director of national intelligence, in an email to the Huffington Post, said it was not surprising the US government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalise others to violence .



Offsite Article: Is Internet Porn to Blame?...

Link Here 27th November 2013
After watching 'depraved' porn on the internet, millions of boys are turning into good husbands, fathers, businessmen, sportsmen, teachers, company employees, and even politicians, campaigners and journalists

See article from



Extract: Open Season on Internet Censorship...

Parliamentary committee enjoys a talking shop of countless ideas for censorship

Link Here 20th November 2013
Parliament's Culture, Media and Sport Committee has been listening to countless ideas for internet censorship.

Under the heading of Online Safety the committee has been hearing evidence from campaigners, ISPs, ofcom etc. And all the evidence seems to be in favour of censorship.

Tuesday 29 October 2013: 2nd session to hear evidence

See  uncorrected transcriptoin of oral evidence from ISPs and Jim Gamble via

Tuesday 19 November 2013: 3rd session to hear evidence

See  TV recording of oral evidence from Ofcom and Claire Perry via

For example.  Claire Perry said internet firms are currently not doing enough to tackle bullying online and called for more prosecutions of people who make online threats, that she described as misogynistic.

She said bullying would be "driven down" if users could choose to block communication from anonymous users. Perry, who received online threats over the summer, said there should be an online verification process, so people can see if they are dealing with other users who have supplied their real names or chosen to remain anonymous. She said:

Having been on the receiving end of a storm of Twitter abuse, I don't think the companies do enough. Part of the problem is anonymity of usage.

People post about how they'd like to rape you and kill you because they think you don't know who you are. If there was some way of the company knowing and being prepared to verify that identify and to show you that verification, I think it would lead to a diminuation in that kind of behaviour.



Update: All Guns Blazing...

GCHQ, IWF and the National Crime Agency all set to seek out child abuse material

Link Here 19th November 2013
The Internet Watch Foundation does not at the moment pursue images and videos on so-called peer-to-peer networks because it lacks permission from the Home Office. But it was announced on Monday that the watchdog would begin a six-month pilot scheme in collaboration with Google, Microsoft and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection agency (Ceop), so that IWF can develop procedures to identify and blacklist links to child abuse material on P2P services.

Separately, David Cameron said the dark net , a general term for areas of the internet not accessible through search engines, was policeable. And he said that the government listening service GCHQ would be brought in to tackle child abuse images. Cameron told the BBC's Jeremy Vine:

There's been a lot in the news recently about the techniques, ability and brilliance of the people involved in the intelligence community, in GCHQ and the NSA in America. That expertise is going to be brought to bear to go after these revolting people sharing these images [of child abuse] on the dark net, and making them available more widely.

A No 10 spokesperson said the details of the project had yet to be confirmed but roles and responsibilities between IWF and the National Crime Agency would be clarified in due course.

Jim Gamble, former head of Ceop, said rather contradicting the need for all the Google work to block searches:

Nobody actually knows how much child abuse material is on the dark net, but the vast majority is shared on P2P. I think the government is masking the problem by not investing in real human resource.

IWF itself currently has only five staff monitoring the internet, though it has been given approval by its 110 industry members for a bigger budget, following a large donation by Google, and more resources from April 2014.



Update: Searching for Words...

Cameron takes the credit for solving a Google search problem that didn't exist

Link Here 19th November 2013
On 18th November the Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a key summit at Downing Street to welcome progress made by internet service providers, leading search engines and police agencies to better protect children from harmful material online and block child abuse and other illegal content but warned that there is still more to do.

Speaking ahead of the event, the Prime Minister said the internet search engines in particular have made "significant progress" since July to prevent child abuse content from being available across the world but will make clear that he will still bring forward legislation if they fail to deliver.

The Prime Minister also said:

Back in July , I said I wanted to do much more to protect our children from the risks posed by the internet and those who seek to use the web to look at and share illegal and vile content.

Since then, we have made real progress on filters and parental controls to protect children, and on the government side we've strengthened Britain's ability to combat child abuse online with the new National Crime Agency, with over 4000 specially trained officers.

But we were clear that we needed the search engines to do more to ensure people can't access extreme material via a simple search.

At the time, Google and Microsoft - who cover 95% of the market - said blocking search results couldn't be done, that it shouldn't be done.

They argued that it was against the very principle of the internet and search engines to block material even if there was no doubt that some of the search terms being used by paedophiles were abhorrent in a modern society.

I did not accept that then and I do not accept that now.

Since then, we have worked closely with both Google and Microsoft and they have made significant progress in preventing child abuse content from being returned.

Both companies have made clear to me that they share my commitment to stop child abuse content from being available not only in the UK but across the world.

This must mean making sure that it is not possible for people to find child abuse content via search engines now or in the future.

If the search engines are unable to deliver on their commitment to prevent child abuse material being returned from search terms used by paedophiles, I will bring forward legislation that will ensure it happens.

With the progress that has been made in 4 months, I believe we are heading in right direction but no-one should be in doubt that there is a red line: if more isn't done to stop illegal content or pathways being found when someone uses a child abuse search term, we will do what is necessary to protect our children.

Changes introduced by search engines

Google and Microsoft have introduced a number of changes to their search function, not only in the UK, but across the world and National Crime Agency testing of the new measures shows that child abuse images, videos or pathways are no longer being returned against a blacklist of search terms at present.

The changes introduced by the search engines include:

  • the introduction of new algorithms that will block child abuse images, videos and pathways that lead to illegal content, covering 100,000 unique searches on Google worldwide
  • stopping auto-complete features from offering people child abuse search terms
  • Google and Microsoft will now work with the National Crime Agency and the Internet Watch Foundation to bring forward a plan to tackle peer to peer networks featuring child abuse images
  • Google will bring forward new technology that will put a unique identification mark on illegal child abuse videos, which will mean all copies are removed from the web once a single copy is identified
Action must be taken

The internet safety summit came 4 months after the Prime Minister said that action must be taken in 2 different areas: first, to end the proliferation and accessibility of child abuse images on the internet and, second, to stop so many children viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very early age.

Following the Prime Minister's speech in July, CEOP, part of the National Crime Agency, gave the search engines a list of terms which they said were unambiguous. If you used these you were looking for child abuse images online. In the speech, the search companies were challenged to block these terms, to make sure that no illegal content or pathways to illegal content were returned.

That was not the case in July but the new measures mean that is now happening.

The government will work with the National Crime Agency and others to monitor the effectiveness of the new technology introduced by Google and Microsoft. It is imperative that they can show they are preventing imagery or pathways are returned against blacklisted search terms identified by the National Crime Agency.

A recent deterrence campaign from Google led to a 20% drop off on people trying to find illegal content, showing this sort of action will make a difference.

Progress already made

The key areas where progress has been made include:

  1. Hundreds of thousands of homes have already been given a whole home family friendly internet filter just months after the Prime Minister signed up internet service providers to do more to help parents keep their children safe online. The providers will confirm to the Prime Minister that 20 million homes -- 95% of all homes in Britain with an existing internet connection -- will be required to choose whether to switch on a whole home family friendly internet filter by the end of next year. The 6 largest public Wi-Fi providers across Britain have switched on family friendly filters in all areas where children might access the internet.
  2. Britain and the US have team up to target child abuse online with a new UK-US taskforce, set up between US Assistant Attorney General and the UK government, that will identify cross-Atlantic targeting of criminals who think they are hidden from the law, including those operating on the 'dark web'. Ex-Google and Facebook chief Joanna Shield will lead an industry group of technical experts to explore what more can be done.
  3. Internet service providers have announced a new £25 million internet safety campaign over 3 years that will reach out to millions of parents on how best to protect their children and make good use of filters.
  4. The newly formed National Crime Agency will target child abusers online in Britain, working with crime agencies across the world. Britain has strengthened its ability to combat child abuse online via the new National Crime Agency and 4,000 staff are available to help track, investigate and arrest paedophiles. In the National Crime Agency's first month, 24 people were arrested on suspicion of distributing indecent images of children as part of a stand-alone operation.
  5. The Internet Watch Foundation -- the industry body tasked with identifying and taking down illegal content -- will now expand its operation with an additional £1.5 million funding boost. A new group of skilled analysts are being recruited and will be operational within months, effectively tripling the team. With the additional fire-power, the IWF will for the first time ever proactively seek out child abuse sites, so that the more material is blocked and warning 'splash' pages put in place.

Comment: Child abuse image policies risk looking like cynical manipulation

19th November 2013.  See  article from

A police officer specialising in child abuse told PC Pro that the announcement is hype :

"I simply do not see people using Google, etc to search for child abuse," the source said. "It's too risky for them."



Update: Seeking a Good Image...

Google reveals technology to prevent searches for child abuse material

Link Here 18th November 2013
Google is targeting 100,000 terms associated with online child sexual abuse in a move hailed by David Cameron, who will announce a series of measures to tackle the problem at a cyber-summit in Downing Street. The prime minister said that Google and Yahoo had come a long way after the internet firms announced a series of initiatives to try to block access to child pornography.

Cameron is set to announce that British and US law enforcement agencies are to jointly target online child abuse by monitoring those who operate on the hidden internet.

Google's chief executive, Eric Schmidt, has announced that a 200-strong team has cleaned up Google Search to target 100,000 terms that can be used to locate child pornography. The changes will soon apply to more than 150 languages. The company is also showing warnings at the top of its search results for 13,000 queries. Schmidt said:

In the last three months put more than 200 people to work developing new, state-of-the-art technology to tackle the problem. We've fine-tuned Google search to prevent links to child sexual abuse material from appearing in our results.



Update: David Blunkett has a goose stepping Basil Fawlty moment...

With a rant about porn, Sodom, Gomorrah and a moral climate that allowed Adolf Hitler to flourish

Link Here25th September 2013

A loose moral climate fed the paranoia and fear that allowed Nu Labour to flourish:
(Picture by MichaelG)

Former Home Secretary David Blunkett has called for internet providers to block pornography, ludicrously warning against a descent into Sodom and Gomorrah .

Blunkett backed an opt-in system of censorship, claiming the Lib Dems had been wrong to reject it at their party conference last week.

He was speaking at a Demos fringe meeting at the Labour conference:

The Lib Dems in Glasgow debated this and decided they were against automatic protection unless people chose to over-ride it, in terms of pornography on the internet and the protection of children. I think they were wrong.

I think we have a job in this country, in a civilised, free, open democracy, to protect ourselves from the most bestial activities and from dangers that would undermine a civilised nation.

Drawing a parallel with Germany before the rise of the Nazis, he suggested a loose moral climate had fed the paranoia and fear that had allowed Adolf Hitler to flourish:

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Berlin came as near as dammit to Sodom and Gomorrah. There was a disintegration of what you might call any kind of social order.

People fed on that - they fed people's fears of it. They encouraged their paranoia. They developed hate about people who had differences, who were minorities.

There always has had to be some balance, in terms of the freedom of what we want to do, for ourselves and the mutual respect and the duty we owe to each other in a collective society. They developed hate about people who had differences, who were minorities.



Update: Protest Objects...

Gender extremists set to protest at an XBIZ adult industry conference in London

Link Here 23rd September 2013
Gender extremists say they will protest at a three-day conference for adult website operators which began in London today, with talks including State of the Industry: The War on Porn .

The US adult trade group and conference organiser, XBIZ, said the debate would look at the Government's plans.

The extremists from London Feminist Network and Object will wear overalls and masks alluding to their view that the adult industry is toxic . Julia Long from the London Feminist Network said:

At the very moment we are having a national debate on the harms of pornography, and not least the enormous amount of porn in teenagers' and children's lives, XBIZ is holding sessions specifically aimed at combating any attempts to curb access to internet pornography. Pornographers don't care about the damage their industry does. Their only concern is profit.

Industry lawyer Myles Jackman told the conference website:

Successive governments have mounted a sustained campaign against the UK porn industry and now's the time to fight back.



Updated: Presumably few people want their internet to be sanitised so as to be suitable for young children...

Lib Dem conference delegates reject mandatory website blocking policy

Link Here17th September 2013
Liberal Democrats have resoundingly rejected plans for an automatic block on internet pornography.

The motion, proposed by Floella Benjamin, the former children's television presenter, suggested all computers should block out pornography unless a user specifically opts to receive it.

The rejection of the motion will be seen as a warning to Nick Clegg, who has already signed up to coalition proposals that means people will automatically have an anti-pornography filter on new computers unless they switch it off.

Despite the leadership's position, several Liberal Democrat speakers stood up to oppose the motion, with one arguing it was counter to all liberal instincts .

Jess Palmer was cheered by members after saying a pornography filter would have prevented her from discovering fan fiction with some adult themes and finding out about asexuality.

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge, successfully asked for the motion to be referred back to the party's policy committee for a rethink. He said there are some problems with children accessing internet pornography but this is not the solution.

Update: Crappy website blocking algorithms cited in vote against internet censorship policy

17th September 2013. See  article from

Cllr Sarah Brown, who represents Petersfield on Cambridge City Council, was successful in urging Liberal Democrat members to reject calls for software companies to filter out pornography.

Adults would have had to opt in to view pornography under the proposals, which will now go back to party bosses for redrafting. The vote put the party at odds with the Conservatives.

Cllr Brown, who campaigns for transgender rights, said filters on public computers had stopped her from visiting her own blog - as well as websites on issues such as safe working conditions for prostitutes. She said:

As an equality campaigner I have seen first hand the effects of Internet censorship. I have been frustrated when trying to access LGBT news sites, or reading blogs of people campaigning for quality, sex education, breast feeding, safer working conditions for those involved in sex work, drugs information, and so on.

I have even been disallowed access to my own blog, which, by the way, was shortlisted for a Lib Dem Voice award this year, because, apparently, it contains adult content .

Perhaps campaigning for equal rights for vulnerable and abused minorities is adult content , but so-called porn filters shouldn't be blocking it.

She said the motion had good intentions, but argued:

In seeking to protect children from porn, automated filters will block political campaigners, satire, support sites for victims of homophobic bullying, sexual abuse and eating disorders, breast feeding campaigners and the blogs of members of this party.

It is profoundly illiberal and will cause real harm to things of value.



Update: So who decides what moralist propaganda should be taught to kids about porn?...

Sex education should include dangers of menacing internet porn, Nick Clegg warns but accuses the Tories of blocking the idea

Link Here6th September 2013



Update: Imaginary vs Real Harm...

Government told to stop banging on about internet porn, its suicide and self harm that most concerns parents

Link Here 5th September 2013

The ISP TalkTalk has told education minister Sarah Teather that the government should downplay its focus on pornography blocking and try to stop suicide sites instead, the Guardian learned.

In a meeting with Teather, who as an MP led a campaign against the sexualisation of children, TalkTalk chief executive Dido Harding said:

Suicide is more important to parents than porn, so why mandate [filters against] porn and not suicide?

According to notes from the meeting in May 2012, released under a Freedom of Information request, Harding said that the government's plan to make users choose whether to opt in or out of being able to access sites designated as porn would be ineffective.

David Cameron has said that he wants to see ISPs being more proactive over pornography. But a source at one ISP criticised Cameron's overt focus on pornography and claimed politicians and the media are absolutely obsessed with it .

A TalkTalk spokesperson said suicide was the most commonly blocked subject matter by customers using its Homesafe content filtering software, followed by self-harm, pornography, weapons and violence in that order.

By 2010, suicide had become the single biggest caused of death for those aged 15-49 in the developed world, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.



Update: Bollox About Internet Porn in Parliament...

300,000 attempts to access porn in Parliament over the last 12 months

Link Here 5th September 2013

All sorts of bollox has been written about MPs accessing porn but surely a figure of 300,000 in a year is just about zero.

There are about 650 MPs each with say a couple of staff, perhaps 2000 people in the House of Commons. Presumably the House of Lords is included so adding another 1000 lords and staff.

So in a year on average each staff member accesses a 'porn' site 100 times or say once every 3 days.

Now porn blocking software is cheapo rubbish, and classifies all sorts of sites as porn, when they are simply MelonFarmers. It is classed as porn in most of these filters.

So all it would take to reach this tiny figure, is for each computer user to try to access a site like MelonFarmers every 3 days.

Big numbers are no so big for an organisation the size of Parliament over a year.



Update: Noting current website filtering inability to distinguish between education and titillation...

Prominent writers warn Cameron that people will be blocked from accessing to educational websites

Link Here23rd August 2013

   Porn or literature?
Don't bother asking ISPs

The current crop of website blocking options are totally over the top in overblocking with a safety first approach that blocks websites over totally trivial use of eg strong language. It is not clear if the Government or ISPs are intending to upgrade their filters to prevent businesses being trashed over negligent website blocking decisions by automated software. But presumably they will stick with the current crap. Related issues are that educational websites are being likewise blocked merely for using words associated with sexuality.

David Cameron's plan for UK households to block internet porn with default search filters will be very damaging for LGBT people and vulnerable adults who could be denied access to legitimate sexual health and education sites, a group of authors and journalists has warned.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, prominent figures including the Belle de Jour writer Brooke Magnanti and feminist blogger and author Zoe Margolis, warned that the Government was taking:

A dangerous and misguided approach to internet safety. Focusing on a default 'on' filter ignores the importance of sex and relationship education and sexual health. Worse, you are giving parents the impression that if they install Internet filters they can consider their work is done.

They point out that faults with existing internet service provider filters have been reported numerous times and warn that any default filters could:

Unintentionally block important sites related to sexual health, LGBT issues, or sex and relationship education. This will be very damaging for LGBT young people, for example, or vulnerable adults who may be cut off from important support and advice, in particular those with abusive partners who are also the Internet account holder.

Lee Maguire, technical officer at the civil liberties organisation the Open Rights Group, said that filters could never distinguish:

Between sites that seek to titillate and those with frank discussion of sexuality.

Sites dealing with issues surrounding sexuality are likely to fall foul of miscategorisation as they often contain certain keywords that filters see as inappropriate for children. Even when humans categorise sites, categories will often be set by individuals with their own cultural values.

The open letter, which was also signed by the science-fiction writer Charles Stross and the New Statesman journalist Laurie Penny, said that by promising families one click to protect the whole family , the Prime Minister was:

Giving parents the impression that if they install Internet filters they can consider their work is done. We urge you instead to invest in a programme of sex and relationship education that empowers young people and to revisit the need for this topic to be mandatory in schools. Please drop shallow headline grabbing proposals and pursue serious and demonstrably effective policies to tackle abuse of young people.



Offsite Article: Like Flies Attracted to a Cow Pat...

Link Here 12th August 2013
German politician sniffs around David Cameron's internet censorship policy

See article from



Offsite Article: Porn filters: 12 reasons why they won't work (and 3 why they might)...

Link Here9th August 2013
I wonder how many people realise that they will lose half the internet if they turn on David Cameron's website blocking option

See article from



Update: Never Enough Censorship...

Now the Daily Mail pushes for UK adult websites to be forced into the .xxx top level domain

Link Here 5th August 2013

Britain hosts the third biggest volume of internet pornography in the world and is home to more than half a million sites. There are more than 52million pages of pornographic content in the country registered under the national domain

There are no restrictions on pornographers registering their sites under Britain's domain name, for which a private company called Nominet UK is responsible.

John Carr, an anti-porn campaigner acting as an adviser to the government on child internet safety, called on Nominet to ban websites containing certain words like rape and said the free for all should end. He said that all porn sites should be under the domain name .xxx and declared:

The UK should not provide succour and comfort to porn merchants. Nominet should have a policy that websites registered under the national domain name do not contain depraved or disgusting words. People should not be able to register websites that bring disgrace to this country under the national domain name.

Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, is now writing to Nominet to ask what its plans are to prevent abusive behaviour . He added that he took Carr's complaint 'extremely seriously' .

The evidence that Britain hosts more pornography than any other country apart from the US and Holland will be presented by a web analysis company called MetaCert this week. Apparently Britain hosted six times as many porn web pages as Germany in fourth place and ten times as many as France in fifth place. The US is home to nearly two-thirds of the world's pornography.



Update: Encyclopaedic Knowledge...

Wikipedia founder explains that Cameron's internet censorship plans are absolutely ridiculous

Link Here 4th August 2013

David Cameron's plan to protect children from obscene material online has been dismissed as absolutely ridiculous by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. He said:

It's an absolutely ridiculous idea. It won't work. The software you would use to implement this doesn't work.

My view is that instead of spending literally billions of pounds, billions of dollars, snooping on ordinary people and gathering up all of this data in an apparently fruitless search for terrorists, we should devote a significant proportion of that to dealing with the real criminal issues online - people stealing credit card numbers, hacking into websites and things like that.

Unfortunately we're not seeing a lot of that. We see a lot of flash and a lot of snooping. But this is, at the end of the day, going to take an investment in real, solid police work.

Wales said problems like online child abuse, hacking social media sites and abusive or threatening messages could be tackled without the introduction of new legislation.

Wales also spoke of the issue of abusive tweets. He suggested that Twitter should make it easier for users to report abuse, but rejected calls for tighter censorship of the social network. He said:

When you think about rules about verbal threats, human society has a long history of rules and laws around this, and those rules and laws are very well thought-out. They deal with complicated cases.

I do think that Twitter has needed in the past to do more to give people more control of the environment, to allow faster means for people to complain and to have people behaving badly exposed, blocked or arrested as necessary.

But it is not like we don't have a law against threatening people. We do, and people are quite rightly being called up on this.



Offsite Article: Crap website blocking algorithms by Fortiguard...

Link Here3rd August 2013
Blocked! Pornography, The Filter and Me by Pat Higgins

See article from



Update: The Censorative Party...

57% of Conservative MPs support David Cameron's internet censorship policy

Link Here 1st August 2013

The ToryDiary website writes:

Respondents were asked in our latest survey whether or not they supported David Cameron's proposals on the internet and pornography.

  • 57 per cent said that they do.
  • 27 per cent said that they don't.
  • 15 per cent said that they have no view.

This represents decisive support for the Prime Minister's proposals, which have been strongly driven by the Culture Department. It's worth adding that at this stage this is very much support in principle: we have yet to see the detail.

However Tory MPs don't seem to be lining up make their pro-censorship views known to the electorate. Perhaps too many votes to be lost.



Update: Censorship, Content and Consumers...

DCMS outlines its plans for the suffocation of the British internet industry

Link Here 1st August 2013

The DCMS has published an official wide ranging paper on internet and communications policy. Many of the censorship aspects have already been described by David Cameron in his recent speech. Here are a few paragraphs fleshing out some of the proposed censorship ideas:

Material Promoting Terrorism

The Prime Minister has convened an Extremism Task Force which will be looking closely, in the coming months, at the role the communications industry can and should play in reducing the availability of material promoting terrorism online.

A watershed for internet TV

We want to ensure that the living room remains a safe space for children.

TV remains central to our lives, with people in the UK watching on average more than four hours of broadcast TV every day. Families still get together to sit around the television and watch the latest period drama, talent competition, or catch the latest episode of their favourite soap.

But increasingly, set-top boxes and TVs connected to the internet enable programmes and films to be viewed on-demand, to fit viewing around our own schedules. These can fall outside of regulatory frameworks. People tend to consider connected TVs to be a TV-like experience and expect to be more protected than they are from content accessed through PCs and laptops. Yet, the technology means that it is easy to flick  between regulated and unregulated spaces. Since this is not always clear, this increases the risk of people inadvertently accessing content that may be offensive, inappropriate, or harmful to children.

The technology is already available to enable people to be provided with more information about programmes, and for locks to be put in place to prevent post- watershed programmes from being viewed by children on-demand. But more needs to be done to make sure that these practices are adopted more widely, and to make sure that tools, like pin-protection, are straightforward and easy for people to use.

We also want it to be clear to people when they are watching TV in a protected, regulated space, and when they move with just a few clicks to an unregulated area of the internet. We want industry, broadcasters, manufacturers and platform providers, to lead the development of consumer tools in this area, working with regulators to consider what mechanisms can be applied to clearly label regulated and unregulated content. One such mechanism, may be, for example, using the electronic programme guide itself to define the protected space. We will work with industry to ensure that best practice is developed and can be shared and standardised. Given this is an area where we are seeing rapid developments, we will keep progress under close review, and if necessary, we will consider the case for legislation to ensure that audiences are protected to the level that they choose

R18 on internet TV

The popularity of video-on-demand services (VoD) has grown dramatically in recent years, providing consumers with great new choices about what they want to watch when and where. But with this new opportunity comes risk, and this is particularly the case when it comes to harmful content that is now more readily available. In hard copy, content rated R18 by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) is only available in licensed sex shops and content that was even stronger is banned outright. The VOD regulations in this area do not currently provide the same level of certainty and protection as on the high street. As on-demand services become increasingly prevalent we want to make sure that regulation of on-demand content is as robust as regulation of content on a DVD, bringing the online world into line with the high street.

We will legislate to ensure that material that would be rated R18 by the British Board of Film Classification is put behind access controls on regulated services and we will ban outright content on regulated services that is illegal even in licensed sex shops.

More Dangerous Pictures

We will also close a loophole in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, so that it is a criminal offence to possess extreme pornography that depicts rape.

Website Blocking

We are seeing good progress in this area:

  • Where children could be accessing the internet, we need good filters that are preselected to be on, and we need parents aware and engaged in the setting of those filters. By the end of this year, when someone sets up a new broadband account, the settings to install family friendly filters will be automatically selected; if you just click next or enter, then the filters are automatically on.

  • By the end of next year ISPs will have prompted all existing customers to make an unavoidable decision about whether to apply family friendly filters.

  • Only adult account holders will be able to change these filters once applied.

  • All mobile phone operators will apply adult filters to their phones. [Does this allow adults to turn off the blocking?]

  • 90% of public Wi-Fi will have family friendly filters applied to wherever children are likely to be present.

  • Ofcom will regularly review the efficacy of these filters

But we are clear that industry must go further:

  • We expect the smaller ISPs to follow the lead being set by the larger providers.

  • We want industry to continue to refine and improve their filters to ensure they do not, even unintentionally, filter out legitimate content.

  • We want to see mobile network operators develop their child safety services further; for example, filtering by handset rather than by contract would provide greater flexibility for parents as they work to keep their children safe online.

Paying for PC advert censorship

The UK benefits from a healthy and successful advertising sector, underpinned by an exemplar of successful self-regulation, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). The A administers a system which is flexible and responsive, and is industry funded, through 0.1% levy on non-broadcast advertising spend levied by the Advertising Standards Boa of Finance (ASBOF). This levy is voluntary, but is well supported by industry; however, will be important to ensure that this continues to be sustainable in the future. The relatively recent extension of the ASA's online remit to cover marketing on companies own websites and on social media demonstrates the increasing importance of online advertising, and advertising spend in the future is likely to increase its focus on these online markets. Therefore, it will be important to ensure that this self-regulatory, industry-funded model remains sustainable for the future, and that the regulation of online and offline advertising alike can continue to be supported by the industry levy. Some concerns have been raised over the degree to which collection of the levy in the digital world has kept pace with the rate at which advertisers are now operating there.

We think it is incumbent upon all parts of the industry, including the digital media, to safeguard this continued funding by playing their part in the collection of the levy.



Offsite Article: Should we ban banning things?...

Link Here 29th July 2013
The political addiction to mere prohibitions (without even bothering to think through the consequences) by David Allen Green

See article from



Update: Just Like China...

But Perry, Cameron and the Daily Mail will be happy

Link Here 28th July 2013

Microsoft has introduced a pop-up warning on its Bing search engine that tells UK users that they are searching for illegal child abuse images. Yahoo will also introduce them in the coming weeks, but Google has no plans to.

Microsoft announced that anyone using its search engine to look for material that shows the sexual abuse of children will trigger the Bing Notification Platform message warning that tells them the content they are looking for is against the law. The notification will provide a link to a counselling service.

A Microsoft spokesman said:

If someone in the UK tries to use search terms on Bing which can only indicate they are looking for illegal child abuse content, they will activate the Bing Notification Platform which will produce an on-screen notification telling them that child abuse content is illegal. The notification will also contain a link to who will be able to provide them with counselling.

The Bing Notification Platform is triggered by search terms on a list provided by the The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).



Update: Ethical Bullying...

Claire Perry seems to think that the Church of England should follow her pet morality concerns and disinvest from Google

Link Here 28th July 2013

Christian campaigner and Conservative MP Claire Perry has told the Church of England to pull its money out of Google in a bid to force the company to take a stronger line over pornographic and child abuse images she claims are widely available through its search engine.

She told The Daily Telegraph:

It is quite clear that many companies, in particular British ISPs, are finally now taking a really responsible approach to this. They are seeing that we want a level of social responsibility. There are others out there who have not got that attitude.

They (the Church of England and other investors) have a role to play, they have questions to ask themselves. They are moral leaders.

Her demands follow the Archbishop of Canterbury's pledge to to review the Church's investment strategy, after very embarrassing revelations that it has holdings in firms that profit from payday lending.

In the name of pressurising organisations to do more about child abuse, then perhaps the church should also pull its investment from religious organisations too. And it's not as if political organisations are a paragon of virtue either. In fact it makes one wonder if there is anything that passes muster as totally ethically correct.



Update: Sleepwalking into Censorship...

Open Rights Group explain how blocking choices will be presented

Link Here 26th July 2013

After brief conversations with some of the ISPs that will be implementing the UK's "pornwall" we've established a little bit about what it will be doing.

The essential detail is that they will assume you want filters enabled across a wide range of content, and unless you un-tick the option, network filters will be enabled. As we've said repeatedly, it's not just about hardcore pornography.

You'll encounter something like this:

(1) Screen one

"Parental controls"

Do you want to install / enable parental controls

[ticked box] yes
[unticked box] no


(2) Screen two [if you have left the box on screen 1 ticked]

"Parental controls"

Do you want to block

[ticked box] pornography
[ticked box] violent material
[ticked box] extremist and terrorist related content
[ticked box] anorexia and eating disorder websites
[ticked box] suicide related websites
[ticked box] alcohol
[ticked box] smoking
[ticked box] web forums
[ticked box] esoteric material
[ticked box] web blocking circumvention tools

You can opt back in at any time

The precise pre-ticked options may vary from service to service.

What's clear here is that David Cameron wants people to sleepwalk into censorship. We know that people stick with defaults: this is part of the idea behind 'nudge theory' and 'choice architecture' that is popular with Cameron.

The implication is that filtering is good, or at least harmless, for anyone, whether adult or child. Of course, this is not true; there's not just the question of false positives for web users, but the affect on a network economy of excluding a proportion of a legitimate website's audience.

There comes a point that it is simply better to place your sales through Amazon and ebay, and circulate your news and promotions exclusively through Facebook and Twitter, as you know none of these will ever be filtered.

Meanwhile ISPs face the unenviable customer relations threat of increased complaints as customers who hadn't paid much attention find websites unexpectedly blocked.

Just as bad, filters installed with no thought cannot be expected to set appropriately for children of different ages.



Update: Guess Who is Censoring the British Internet?...

So how come Britain is allowing China to suffocate British internet businesses by letting Chinese censors take the decisions to err on the side of overblocking

Link Here26th July 2013

The adult content blocking system championed by David Cameron is controlled by the controversial Chinese company Huawei, the BBC has learned.

UK-based employees at the firm are able to decide which sites TalkTalk's service blocks.

Politicians in both the UK and US have raised concerns about alleged close ties between Huawei and the Chinese government.

Even customers who do not want filtering still have their traffic routed through the system, but matches to Huawei's database are dismissed rather than acted upon.

One expert insisted that private companies should not hold power over blacklists, and that the responsibility should lie with an independent group.  Dr Martyn Thomas, chair of the IT policy panel at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, told the BBC:

It needs to be run by an organisation accountable to a minister so it can be challenged in Parliament,

There's certainly a concern about the process of how a web address gets added to a blacklist - who knows about it, and who has an opportunity to appeal against it.

You could easily imagine a commercial organisation finding itself on that blacklist wrongly, and where they actually lost a lot of web traffic completely silently and suffered commercial damage. The issue is who gets to choose who's on that blocking list, and what accountability do they have? 'Policing themselves'

Huawei's position was recently the subject of an Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report. It criticised the lack of ministerial oversight over the firm's rapid expansion in the UK. The committee said:

The alleged links between Huawei and the Chinese State are concerning, as they generate suspicion as to whether Huawei's intentions are strictly commercial or are more political.

In the US, intelligence committees have gone further, branding Huawei a threat to national security.

Initially, TalkTalk told the BBC that it was US security firm Symantec that was responsible for maintaining its blacklist, and that Huawei only provided the hardware, as previously reported. However, Symantec said that while it had been in a joint venture with Huawei to run Homesafe in its early stages, it had not been involved for over a year.

TalkTalk later confirmed it is Huawei that monitors activity, checking requests against its blacklist of over 65 million web addresses, and denying access if there is a match.

The contents of this list are largely determined by an automated process, but both Huawei and TalkTalk employees are able to add or remove sites independently.



Update: Moralist with No Morals...

Claire Perry threatens to use her influence to get journalist sacked after making technically illiterate claims about the hacking of her website

Link Here 25th July 2013

Claire Perry acts as David Cameron's Mary Whitehouse, pushing for internet censorship in the name of 'protecting the children'.

Well her website was recently hacked and defaced with links to pornographic images.

When Guido Fawkes, a reporter and blogger, wrote about it on his website, Perry took to Twitter to ludicrously accuse him of sponsoring the hack, and publicly announced that she would be speaking to his editor at the Sun (Fawkes has a column with the tabloid) to punish him for writing about her embarrassment.

She was way out of her depth in speaking about technical details of the hack that it makes her appointment as internet censorship adviser seem very dodgy.

The accusations that Guido Fawkes had something to do with the hacking has led the blogger to consider taking her to court.

Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing noted of her conduct:

When a powerful politician threatens to get journalists fired for reporting inconvenient news, she abuses her office and acts as a public bully. Perry is perfectly awful in every single way, and has committed a major ethical breach, as well as likely violating Britain's (ridiculous) libel laws.



Update: Blocking Thoughts...

Commentators on Daily Mail Dave's internet porn ban

Link Here 24th July 2013

Offsite Comment: Would the Daily Mail website fall foul of the online porn filters it has championed?

Ban this sick filth. No, not THIS sick filth, obviously.

See  article from by Alex Hern

Offsite Comment: I'm Sorry to Have to Say This, But It Should Not Be a Crime to Fantasise About Raping a Woman

In a civilised society, we recognise that a distinction must be made between what people think and what people do. We insist that while it is very often legitimate to punish people for their actions - particularly their violent actions - it is unacceptable to punish them for their thoughts and their fantasies, however perverse they might be.

See article from by Brendan O'Neill

Offsite Comment: Please, Prime Minister, do your porn research

David Cameron is using a legitimate crusade against child abuse images to infiltrate policy on adult content per se, while demonstrating that he doesn't understand either what porn is, or how the internet works.

On the Jeremy Vine show this lunchtime, the PM demonstrated just how ignorant he is. Vine quite simply asked Cameron to define pornography. He couldn't -- or wouldn't -- and told Vine that that was up to the internet service providers to decide . So the Prime Minister wants to block access to something he can't even relay in layman's terms, and expects global businesses and millions of adults up and down the country to agree to this undemocratic, miasmic proposal. (Did we really democratically elect this man? Well, I didn't -- but someone must have).

See  article from



Update: Laughable Censorship of Search Terms...

David Cameron admits that he has not thought his internet censorship policy through

Link Here 23rd July 2013

Daily Mail Dave is facing criticisms and serious questions over how his plan for automatic internet porn filters in every British home would work.

The former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), Jim Gamble, said Cameron's plan to tackle child abuse images by removing results from search engines like Google would be laughed at by paedophiles:

There are 50,000 predators...downloading abusive images on peer-to-peer, not from Google. Yet from CEOP intelligence only 192 were arrested last year. That's simply not good enough.

We've got to attack the root cause, invest with new money, real investment in child protection teams, victim support and policing on the ground. Let's create a real deterrent. Not a pop-up that paedophiles will laugh at.

In interviews after his speech, Cameron seemed unclear of exactly which legal sites should be banned by the new filters - and accepted that the technology still had weaknesses. Speaking on the BBC's Jeremy Vine programme, Cameron said what would be included in the filters would evolve over time:

The companies themselves are going to design what is automatically blocked, but the assumption is they will start with blocking pornographic sites and also perhaps self-harming sites

It will depend on how the companies choose how to do it. It doesn't mean, for instance, it will block access to a newspaper like The Sun, it wouldn't block that - but it would block pornography.

Cameron said he did not believe written pornography, such as erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey, would be blocked under the plans. But he added: It will depend on how the filters work.

He also admitted it could lead to some interesting conversations in families. Asked if the opt in system meant a husband would have to fess up to his partner if he wanted to look at porn, he finally said: Yes, it does. He then added:

I'm not saying we've thought of everything and there will be many problems down the line as we deal with this, but we're trying to crunch through these problems and work out what you can do and can't do.

Cameron was even attacked by one of his former female MPs, Louise Mensch, for attempting to ban video containing rape simulation. She suggested such fantasies were common in more than half of all women. She wrote on Twitter:

It is not for our government to police consensual simulation, between adults, of one of women's most common fantasies,

Padraig Reidy, of the Index on Censorship, said people should not have to opt out of the filters:

If we have, as the Prime Minister is suggesting, an opt-out filter we have a kind of default censorship in place.

Families should be able to choose if they want to opt in to censorship. If a filter is set up as a default then it can really restrict what people can see legitimately. Sites about sexual health, about sexuality and so on, will get caught up in the same filters as pornography. It will really restrict people's experience on the web, including children's.

Dr Paul Bernal, from the University of East Anglia's law school, suggested Cameron's crackdown on child abuse images was also inadequate:

Plans like these, worthy though they may appear, do not, to me, seem likely to be in any way effective. The real 'bad guys' will find ways around them, the material will still exist, will keep being created, and we'll pretend to have solved the problem -- and at the same time put in a structure to allow censorship, create a deeply vulnerable database of 'untrustworthy people', and potentially alienate many of the most important companies on the internet. I'm not convinced it's a good idea.



Update: Cameron to Attempt to Ban Everything on the Internet...

We're being governed by someone who believes what he reads in the Daily Mail

Link Here22nd July 2013

Back on May, following up the conviction of Stuart Hazell for the murder of 12 year old Tia Sharp, Amanda Platell of the Daily Mail wrote a piece claiming that child porn could be readily found using Google search terms that were noted in the trial.

Of course it was all bollox and the 'child porn' noted by Platell was found to be a commercial adult video. The supposed 'child' was either 18 or 19 depending on which month her birthday fell. Her age was properly recorded and is available for checking as required by US law.

But the damage was already done and Daily Mail readers and campaigners were easily convinced by Platell's bollox piece. And so a new evil was born, easy to find child porn just waiting to be revealed by a few search terms in Google.

And now it appears that David Cameron was one of those who believes everything he reads in the Daily Mail.

In a press release David Cameron announced a series of censorship measures to placate the Daily Mail and its readers.

  • All internet users will be contacted by their service providers and given an unavoidable choice on whether to use website blocking. The changes will be introduced by the end of next year. As a first step, the system will be mandated for new customers by the end of 2013. The subscriber making the choices will be subject to age verification and further updates to the blocking options may only be made by the account holder.
  • Website blocking to be applied to all new mobile phones
  • Prohibited possession of extreme pornography will be extended to scenes of simulated rape.
  • The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is to draw up a blacklist of 'abhorrent' internet search terms to supposedly prevent paedophiles searching for illegal material.
  • All police forces will work with a single secure database of illegal images of children.
  • Videos streamed online are to be subject to the same R18 censorship rules as those sold in shops.
  • There will be stronger powers for watchdogs to investigate the hidden internet -- heavily encrypted forums and pages that allow abusers to cover their tracks
  • Adult content will be banned on public WiFi
  • Ofcom to oversee this implementation of these measures.

In a separate move, Twitter is to use Microsoft's PhotoDNA system to check all uploaded pictures against a database of known child abuse images.

Cameron will say:

There are certain types of pornography that can only be described as 'extreme' ... that is violent, and that depicts simulated rape. These images normalise sexual violence against women -- and they are quite simply poisonous to the young people who see them.

The government today has made a significant step forward in preventing rapists using rape pornography to legitimise and strategise their crimes and, more broadly, in challenging the eroticisation of violence against women and girls.

I have a very clear message for Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest. You have a duty to act on this -- and it is a moral duty. If there are technical obstacles to acting on [search engines], don't just stand by and say nothing can be done; use your great brains to help overcome them.

You're the people who have worked out how to map almost every inch of the Earth from space; who have developed algorithms that make sense of vast quantities of information. Set your greatest brains to work on this. You are not separate from our society, you are part of our society, and you must play a responsible role in it.

We are already looking at the legislative options we have. This is quite simply about obliterating this disgusting material from the net -- and we will do whatever it takes.'

Offsite Comment: Cameron becomes a bit of an embarrassment on the world stage

22nd July 2013. See  article from

Cameron's Bizarre Warning To Google, Bing and Yahoo Over Child Pornography

There are times when I'm not sure that the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, actually understands this technology stuff. An example is this threat in a TV interview in England today. He's huffing and puffing that if the search engine companies don't do what they're told then they'll be forced to by law.



More Innocent People to be Jailed...

Cameron looks set to extend Dangerous Pictures Act to the depiction of rape and other serious sexual offences

Link Here 20th July 2013

Daily Mail spokesman David Cameron is set to announce that the Dangerous Pictures Act will be extended to cover the glorified depiction of rape and other serious sexual offences.

In a speech on Monday, David Cameron will also laud agreements between the Government and internet firms to restrict access to pornography online to those opting to see certain sites and to introduce new censorship requirement for public Wi-Fi connections.

The Government hopes that such actions will convince Daily Mail readers that it is taking action.

Internet firms have also called for tougher legal safeguards on pornography if ministers want to police the web, as the companies do not believe they should be held responsible for deciding what content should be restricted.

The Telegraph has obtained a letter to campaign organisation Rape Crisis South London from Damian Green, the Policing Minister, in which he said the Coalition is actively considering amending legislation on so-called rape pornography .

In his letter Green said: The Government is now actively considering the serious matters [raised by campaigners] including amending the existing criminal law.


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