« Facebook now more secure by default – for all users | Main | Canadian Minister attacks Russia over NSA whistleblower »

08/02/2013

UK porn filter to cover more than just porn

The controversy around the UK’s impending porn filter keeps on growing. People are angry enough that they’re doing it at all, but now, it seems that it may extend to more than mere porn.

The UK has encouraged ISPs to implement a ‘pornwall’ that will automatically block pornographic content unless a user specifically decides to opt out of the scheme. But it looks  as though things will go further than that. The Open Rights Group is a digital advocacy organization that has been talking to several of the ISPs implementing the pornwall. It has found that the pornwall as implemented by some ISPs will also automatically block violent material, extremist/terrorist related content, information about anorexia, suicide, alcohol, smoking, web forums, esoteric material and web blocking circumvention tools. Yikes. Will there be any of the Internet left?

 

7560108364_a5041bf38d_o
Image courtesy Bernard Goldbach

In a blog post, the group has criticized the UK government for encouraging people to ‘sleepwalk into censorship’ by making the pornwall an automatic filter that people must explicitly ask to be turned off. Instead, ISPs should at least offer an active choice, it says, asking people up front whether they want the filter turned on or not.

ISPs are already revolting over the idea. UK Internet provider Andrews & Andrews published a statement on its site saying that it will not offer filtered access for users.

One worry about the pornwall is that deliberately opting out of the filter, users may be identifying themselves to the UK government – and no one yet knows whether authorities might later decide to do anything with that information. People may instead try to find other ways around the automatic blocks.

Hackers have already cracked the idea, with one releasing a tool called Immunicity, that unblocks material online.

These tools aren’t really necessary, in any case. Using proxies is an easy way to make it seem as though you’re coming from outside the UK, and from outside Canada, if they decide to implement it here.

Enforcing the pornwall is starting to look like a tougher job than the UK government might have thought.

If your government began blocking porn and other material by default, would you complain? 

Danny Bradbury, MSN Tech & Gadgets

TrackBack

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

The comments to this entry are closed.

advertisement

Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

FACEBOOK
HP on FACEBOOK