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Internet porn may be blocked at source

(366 Posts)
David51 Mon 20-Dec-10 11:05:27

Communications minister Ed Vaizey is working on plans designed to prevent children gaining access to internet pornography.

He hopes to introduce a system that would enable parents to ask internet service providers (ISPs) to block adult sites at source, rather than relying on parental controls that they need to set themselves.

Adults using the internet connection would then have to specifically 'opt in' if they want to view pornography.

Full story:

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/850896-new-porn-contro ls-for-children-on-internet-planned-by-government

Mumsnet PLEASE think about doing a campaign about this. Or at least keep us posted on if & when the government decides to ask for our views.

In the meantime maybe we should all contact our current ISPs to ask what they plan to do and letting them know what we want as their customers.

Ouma Wed 14-Nov-12 16:42:50

OK this is a very late response to this old thread, but I looked for this earlier and didnt find it, and started a thread earlier today asking if anyone knew of an ISP that filtered at source. Two of the MNs above refer to such ISPs above Snorbs and David51. Please can you tell me who they are? I have a teenage son who has learned how to bypass our very mild effective filter (K9 - I recommend for parents with younger children on a shared computer) and is in danger of becoming addicted to porn. It is a huge, unreported problem amongst young men, and I need to protect my son. I’m not in favour of legislation to curb porn but I think a lot of MNs have yet to come across this problem and they don’t have teenage boys who skip school and are at home alone during the day = big problem.

Consuelaa Tue 11-Sep-12 21:01:07

I agree with the people who said it's not a good idea and may not work or be difficult to implement.

There are so many porn sites (professional and free) so how can we possibly block them all (without blocking non-porn material). And what about websites which have nudity in a non-sexual context (eg medical websites)?

Even if there were no porn sites people could still share porn with torrents or file sharing software. People could upload porn to file-hosting websites then share the links on message boards. Or people could email porn to each other.

People can use proxies or VPNs to circumvent blocks. (for example thepiratebay has been blocked in the UK but there is nothing to stop Brits to access it through a proxy).

And even if the internet were to cease to exist people could just trade porn on memory sticks or DVDs.

My point is there is always a way. Bans don't work people will just find a way around them. IMO some people enjoy finding a way around bans it makes them feel clever and something which is banned may become a "forbidden fruit" and seem even more naughty and desirable.

NetworkGuy Mon 02-Jul-12 22:58:03

Acekicker - just wondered if you could remember where that public wi-fi survey was, as I did try to find it but couldn't.... ( unless someone from MNHQ can link to it, please ).

NetworkGuy Sun 17-Jun-12 19:15:51

I know this is an old thread, but just recently spotted that OpenDNS offers their "FamilyShield" free for personal use. See their web page... > www.opendns.com/home-solutions/parental-controls/ <

NetworkGuy Thu 03-May-12 14:13:12

Found a recent blog article about the Daily Mail and its anti-porn stance... > here <

NetworkGuy Thu 03-May-12 14:06:32

MPs from opposition and governing sides are still technically challenged or don't accept that Ofcom and the minister have been told it is impractical to attempt. There's another article > here <

There are others who think that they can force use of the .xxx top level domain suffix for porn sites. Didn't they ever come across descriptions of the internet which include "anarchy" ?

I know the (last) French President was advocating legislation and the USA throws its weigh around when it can (in requesting extradition for anyone merely using a domain name under American billing or hosting, even if the individual has never set foot on the US homeland).

There's simply no way to restrict "porn" sites or sites with descriptions or video of violence into some backwater that can be "blocked" easily, (a) because there are already tens of thousands using .com etc and the .xxx name may have already been registered [by a competitor] and (b) because by the nature of their 'unlawful' thinking (ignoring moral and other objections) the owners will simply give a two finger salute if asked, and may live in other countries where there can be no enforcement of a UK "idea" (or rather "wish"!!!).

Freedom of speech gets used as a defence by US firms peddling porn and nothing some dumb UK MP says will override that constitutional "right" for an American in a US court. No way to compel them from this side of the Atlantic, so the ISPs are the "soft target" and they (ISPs) know attempts are doomed to fail.

Acekicker Tue 10-Apr-12 19:36:07

On a related note, did anyone else do the MN survey about 'public wifi' - some extremely 'interesting' defintions about what is 'family friendly'...

NetworkGuy Thu 05-Apr-12 07:13:09

There's > yet another proposal to force ISPs to filter internet content < (and link to AAISP's MD Adrian "Reverend" Kennard's Blog about why filtering won't work)

NetworkGuy Fri 26-Aug-11 13:04:40

Unfortunately 'all manner of vileness' is easily available via the internet. I'm not in any way promoting free access, but worried that attempts to block, widely regarded as relatively easy for teens to work around, would give parents a belief it 'cannot be done' when it is easy.

While Government is saying they want to slim down central government and get more 'local' decisions, what could be more 'local' than a parent taking control over what is and isn't available in the household, yet there is now discussion about mandating some 'block list' (with no clarity on what organisation controls the list) and for ISPs to use such a list of 'banned sites' as a part of their filtering out of sites, at ISP [therefore customer] cost.

Far from this being voluntary, so some ISPs like 'SO internet' (which offers a 'clean' feed for customers) could offer filtering and others be for 'adults only' (!) the ISPs will be expected to comply, or legislation may be brought in to force them. This is a massive waste of time and money, as anyone with a will to avoid the filters will get around them (including teens, who will pass on the information to others, running rings around parents, as is usual when it comes to technology).

Further, it's a slippery slope from banning porn and violence to banning political dissent sites or anyone the government of the day decides is not to be tolerated. It has already happened in Australia, where a 'block list' was implemented and had a variety of businesses included...

spiderslegs Fri 26-Aug-11 03:06:14

Hate the idea.

spiderslegs Fri 26-Aug-11 03:05:49

Eeek - I expected to disagree with you Network - I hate thye idea my son could access all manner of vileness - horrid.

NetworkGuy Fri 26-Aug-11 02:46:00

> UK Parliamentary inquiry into possibility of blocking websites <

MNHQ - if you see this please consider providing input to the inquiry.

You've previously accepted there are issues over
'who decides' and
'how would blocking work' and
'parents need more education'

and I hope the lengthy threads arguing against blocking (partly as impractical and partly as false sense of [parental] security) don't need to be repeated.

ISPreview article in link above seemed pretty balanced about the main objections, without going into the lack of impartiality concerning the chair of this inquiry!

NetworkGuy Fri 22-Jul-11 21:46:51

It's not my speculation, by the way, just that of whomever put together the piece for the TV.

With the way the internet has been changing in the last say 3-5 years, almost any studies would easily be out of date because 'content' and ability to access it is probably significantly easier in every 6 month period than it was in the previous months, because of changes to mobile phones, addition of 'tablets' etc, etc (even if the iPad doesn't have easy access to Flash or Windows Media Player [perhaps], there will be plenty of other methods to view the web such as games consoles etc).

confidence Fri 22-Jul-11 12:23:56

Sure, that's all possible. It's a reasonable speculation.

It's just that one could also come up with plenty of other speculations that are equally possible and reasonable (such as boys actually finding it easier to go out with girls who don't feel ready for sex, because they can satisfy themselves with porn instead). And there's no basis for believing that your speculation is the way things actually play out in reality.

NetworkGuy Fri 22-Jul-11 12:15:20

While no-one should expect everyone to enjoy everything, the simple fact is that after a few drinks, the "no means NO" message is unlikely to matter to bunch of immature young 'studs' so if they have seen a gang-bang and all manner of activities, and consider them "the norm" (despite some being liked by a tiny portion of women), the odds are some young women may be expected to do things which they may have no wish to do. Yes, it would amount to assault, rape or similar, but seeing (done easily, and free) the 'extremes' (aka variety), could cloud judgement over what is acceptable, and/or expected.

I agree that life is varied, but in terms of some of the less common activities that may have been seen, is likely not to be seen as a 'specialist interest' but as 'normal'. Where you and I may disagree on is that bit about hamburgers, and the (immature) male incomprehension that it is not something this girl wants to do, and the emotional blackmail that might be used to get it from the girl.

confidence Fri 22-Jul-11 11:19:23

Sorry networkGuy, I probably didn't put that clearly. I realise any teenage boys she goes out with are likely to have watched porn. What I meant was, "What makes you think they will have high demands of her sexually because of it?". This fear seems to imply an assumption about a specific way that porn must always affect peoples' behaviour, and I don't think that assumption has really been examined.

I don't really get the "not matching real life" thing either. Real life is incredibly varied, and people are into different things. Pretty much everything that happens in porn is something that someone, somewhere is into - indeed it must be for it to have an audience.

But no one piece or genre of porn pretends to speak for the whole of human sexuality. People erect a strawman by pretending that it does. The fact that there is plenty of anal porn doesn't mean people are going to "expect" that a particular individual likes it, any more than than the widespread availability of hamburgers leads us to expect that everyone likes them.

NetworkGuy Fri 22-Jul-11 03:49:45

"What makes you think that they will?"

Given the high number of teens who have seen porn, there's a pretty good possibility. How do you pre-screen the boys to be sure they've not seen porn?

Explaining how so much of the porn online does not match 'real life' is something they were suggesting on C4, after showing some parents some very explicit porn... After all, it's a long way from a regular boy/girl relationship to have 3 M + 1 F "going at it", same for the other clips that were shown (not to TV viewers).

I think some of the best information (to educate, and perhaps [hopefully?] put the brakes on) was showing teenagers the effects of STIs.

confidence Fri 22-Jul-11 02:19:41

Ell11,

I'm just speaking personally but I don't want my girls going out with boys who have high demands of them sexually because they have "seen how it's done" on the Internet.

What makes you think that they will?

I dunno I must admit I agree with a lot of what SGB has said. There seems to be a presumption behind a lot of this about all the terrible effects that seeing porn must have on adolescent boys, when there's no evidence of it having such an effect. Every piece of supposed "evidence" I've ever seen has been woefully unscientific and in most cases, clearly serving a pre-decided agenda (religious, conservative, radical feminist etc.)

And there's plenty of evidence to the contrary - like studies that showed that after the explosion in availability of porn videos in American and Denmarks in the 70s and 80s, rates of sexual crime actually went DOWN. Which makes sense in some ways, when you think about it.

The anti-porn presumption seems to also ignore the gigantic elephant in the room: the idea that before widespread porn came along, everybody had good, "moral", "healthy" sex within committed relationships and made Jesus happy. Like there were no married women who never had an orgasm in their lives because their husbands didn't have a fuckin clue of course...

I suspect part of the problem is that women largely have no understanding of how sexuality works for men (that's not a criticism - just a fact, and I'm sure the opposite is equally true), and fail to understand how compartmentalised these things can be. Relationships are complex things that people go into for all kinds of reasons, sex being only one of them. The experience of looking at porn is simply different from the experience of being with another person.

I sometimes wonder how the nature of porn use (and thus production) would develop if all the guilt and assumption and fear were dropped. Like I wonder how horny people get when they live on nudist colonies. There must come a point where you just go "meh..."

NetworkGuy Tue 19-Jul-11 21:25:47

All considerations of 'freedom of expression' or 'censorship' should be utterly secondary to this aim.

So you'd accept the "Chinese method" where brute force is used to block sites (yet despite their attempts, they still don't manage to block every site they deem unsuitable).

If you would allow some body (IWF ?, Government ?) to block sites (on a whim, perhaps, in the case of the IWF) then it's not a society I would wish to live in, and far from being a step safer for youngsters, it would be one step away from having the thought police, totalitarian "big brother" situation where any opposition to the ruling party could be wiped from history, not just the internet. Freedom of the press would have gone, too..

NetworkGuy Tue 19-Jul-11 21:16:19

Channel 4 has just started series 5 of the Sex Education Show, this time from Redborne School, with a piece about what teens have seen which rather shocks the parents.

Good to see the show pushed parents as needing to discuss porn and getting more aware of parental controls and moving computers out of bedrooms.

phales30 Thu 21-Apr-11 11:20:47

Silly Snorbs. You're saying and doing exactly what the pornographers want you to. I suspect that a large number of them actually want young teenagers to be exposed to hardcore porn, because: a) this increases the potential for the further spread of porn addiction, b) this is part of a wider normalisation of porn which is their obvious aim, and c) much pornography itself is based around the idea of hyper-sexualised and abnormally precocious teenagers. There is far more going on here than 'free expression'. The porn industry is involved in a campaign to fundamentally alter and distort our society and our culture, so as to further increase their profits and more widely propagate their grotesque view of the world.

At present we have a situation in which whole generations of children are being exposed in some way or another to hardcore pornography. They are either coming into contact with it directly, or else it is having an effect on their peer group and the culture that they share with their peers. The current system of parental filters is clearly not working, and something far more rigorous is needed.

The basic fact is that parental filters do not always work. There are ways in which they can be circumvented, either inadvertently or on purpose. Most current ISPs also require their customers to buy additional software if they want to block porn sites, and this software can be expensive. Why should parents have to shoulder the cost and the responsibility for protecting their children?
This is like arguing that sexually explicit images are acceptable on advertising billboards in the street, and that parents who want to protect their children from seeing them should buy them special glasses to wear when they are out and about.

A further problem is that certain parents may not set up their computers to block porn, for whatever reason, leaving their child to gain easy access to it. This then leads to that child possibly passing content to others, and so on.

If children can access porn through file sharing sites, then they should be blocked from accessing those sites too. If adults want their children to be able to share files over the internet, then there should be exclusive childrens' file sharing sites on which they can do so - properly monitored and regulated.

The basic fact is that we need to establish a society in which it is extremely difficult for a child to come into contact with online pornography, and highly unlikely that they will ever do so. We should use whatever means at our disposal to make this situation a reality - filtering by ISPs at source, parental filtering, etc. We should all be united to bring about a situation in which no child, if at all possible, ever turns on their phone or opens an email or clicks on a weblink and is suddenly presented with the sort of degraded and degrading material that floats around the internet unchecked today. All considerations of 'freedom of expression' or 'censorship' should be utterly secondary to this aim.

NetworkGuy Fri 25-Feb-11 13:32:04

... and they can be tailored to the changing needs of a family.

Amy - I would urge you to read the discussions (it may need a few hours to go through them here on this thread, and in the Site Stuff thread 'recent decision by MNHQ')

MNHQ put a web page online (the day Ed Vaizey had a webchat) which indicated support of the outline for ISP-based blocking, and was invited to the first 'round table' discussion with other organisations and ISPs about the proposed blocking of porn at ISP level, just a week later.

Having seen the Campaigns page, with this policy getting support from MNHQ, I looked at the lengthy thread [the one we are on] where arguments against that proposal went into some significant detail as to why it is not the best way (and no, that does not mean, as some have suggested, that anyone who is against the proposal is in favour of porn, but can see flaws in the proposal).

I started the thread in Site Stuff, to alert others, particularly those who may be aware of the idea being floated back in November/December but who may not know the shortcomings of the proposed method.

After a few days of discussion, some of the points were picked up by Justine, but even then, things were quite hazy as to what should or should not be considered as 'forbidden fruit' - I quote "Maybe the bar should be set at very hardcore porn."

Filtering can be got around, and the teens (and younger) today can mostly run rings around their parents. If what they do is being logged that's one way to determine if they are attempting to avoid filters etc.

But it surely comes back to having a frank discussion about how some of the material online is not intended for youngsters to view, and there would still be a high degree of disgust if they found their adult children were interested in porn, violence, etc.

If it is blocked, then some whizz kid will find a way, someone else may have an unencrypted wireless router that allows teenagers access via their smart phones, or laptops or whatever.

It's simplistic to assume that blocking porn at every ISP will happen, as there will always be methods to avoid the filtering.

However, far more important is that by laying down infrastructure at the ISP (which could be very costly and the bill will not be paid by the government but customers), there is then an easy way to block other sites, such as Wikileaks, or a human rights site that campaigns against some future UK governments 'iron grip' (1984-style) over the populace.

Yes, it could be classed as the realm of sci-fi, but we already have the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, which can force ISPs to divert a stream of internet traffic to government monitoring services under the 'possible terrorist' umbrella. The ISP is not allowed to divulge whether such 'black boxes' are even active, nor who is being monitored, but in theory, all traffic for a household could already be under scrutiny, and anyone telling the members of that household would themselves be liable to arrest and detention.

One ISP moved their mail servers overseas and encouraged users to ask at intervals whether there were any black boxes active. If there was an answer in the negative, we could rest easy. If there was no answer at all, then we had to reach the obvious conclusion, that the boxes were active and the ISP gagged from acknowledging it. So we're not in a society free to do what we want, and ISP-based filtering would be a massive drop in keeping what liberties we still have from being abused at some future time on a government 'whim'. They could no doubt enact legislation which would remove the 'opt out' and increase the scope of sites which could be included, and then where would we be... oh yes, in a similar position to a massive Far Eastern country which had tanks go through a main square in the capital and now has whitewashed it from its history as if it never happened.

PlentyOfParsnips Fri 25-Feb-11 12:07:58

Use your own parental filters, Amy - they work far better than any ISP level filter possibly could.

PlentyOfParsnips Fri 25-Feb-11 12:06:55

Have you actually read the thread, Amy? Or any of the other threads where the techy people are pointing out all the reasons why ISP filtering is unworkable and a Generally Bad Idea? There doesn't seem to be any disagreement that Something Must Be Done, but this is not the right Something.

AmyK1 Fri 25-Feb-11 12:02:21

Roundtheoldoaktree "It is a breach of our privacy and liberty to have to declare if we wish to have the option to browse porn, or not, as the case may be." And it's not a breach of my privacy and liberty to have extreme pornography available in my home against my will?

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