back to article Britain looks to export net censorship model to Europe

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is a British success story - and one that our government would dearly like to export overseas. Although it would rather not pay for it, if it can possibly avoid doing so. That is the somewhat Johnny Bullish assessment of how we regulate the internet here in dear old Blighty, taken from the …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Cameron Colley


    So, a private company* which controls what the public see in this country wants to do so abroad because they can't make money properly in this country alone, and the government back this?

    Not sure if that makes the UK better or worse than China.

    *non-elected, not part of law enforcement and paid before the pedants start.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Using Iran as a model no doubt.

    Australia was an example of a failed internet censorship model. Their list was leaked, it was found to be junk.

    Britain is the model of success for internet censorship, its list is still junk BUT IT'S SECRET SO FAR, so nobody can prove it's junk.

    In Australia they are trying to ban people from discussing their block list after it was shown to be full of political sites (anti-abortion sites etc.). It's closing the gate after the horse has bolted, the list is out, its full of junk and everyone knows it now.

    Britain does not have an elected government, i.e. no popular mandate in their own country.

    Their previous contributions have damaged the EU. UK Independence party has risen in the vote as a result, various UK initiatives have seriously damaged the EU, biometrics, data retention directive has been challenged as illegal in several states. Their choices are demonstrably bad choices, making their leading party unelectable.

    Their Home Secretary was regularly overruled by the European Court of Human rights. i.e. out of step with Europe.

    Simply on the basis that the idea comes from Britain, should by default mean you do the opposite, because everything they have done previously has caused a rise in the vote against Europe. Or do you want the EU to be as popular as NuLabour?

  3. Leigh Smith
    Thumb Down

    How about?

    How about negative infinity points for foisting the IWF on the British public?

  4. Wortel
    Black Helicopters


    So they can't find enough support in the UK and come looking for a shoulder to cry on across the border? That'll work.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "blatant attempt to foist a British model on everyone else in Europe without first checking that it fits their own concerns"

    Does it fit in with what we like to do in this country? ie tell someone when they are accused of a crime and treat them as being innocent until such time as they are proven guilty? It doesn't seem to...

    Or do you mean that our European friends might want to use Wikipedia to look at the cover of certain albums by the Scorpions? (I hear the Scorpions are pretty big in Europe)

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    how do we know they were not set up by people who want to look at the type of pictures they want to block. It would be the perfect cover, and it is a common ploy.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    british patrols on european murky interwebs?

    well given the excellent grasp of all other european languages shown by the british we will soon witness the wrath of censorship on websites about spanish cheese (queso) or greek seaside resorts because they are mistaken for al-queida or piratebay websites.... :)

  8. Georgees
    Thumb Down

    "The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) is a British success story"

    And that's where I stopped reading.

  9. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Europe will love this...

    ... an un-elected, unaccountable body, doing what it likes without any real controls, banning sites based on a list that nobody but them has access to...?

    Sounds very European to me.

  10. cybersaur 1

    What's wrong with Blighty?

    You guys have cameras pretty much everywhere but the loo (did I say that right?) and an Internet censorship faction rivaled only by China. I'm so glad us Yanks have that First Amendment thing to slap away the hands of the theocrat busybodies over here. You guys haven't gotten around to censoring posts that mention the First Amendment yet have you?



    Stop icon for Internet censorship.

  11. not'known@this.address
    Black Helicopters

    Lies, damn lies, and statistics

    "(The IWF is praised internationally for its work and) its achievement in bringing down the proportion of child abuse sites hosted within the UK to 1% of the total accessed."

    Sez who?

    How much kiddie porn was accessed before IWF? How much of the reduction has been through other agencies (ie the Police, Childline, other abuse-reporting procedures - maybe even including social workers)? How do "they" know that it's 1% of all sites? Accessed from where - within the UK, from within the EU, or from anywhere in the world?

    Given the number of websites hosted in the UK, a mere 1% still means there are a hell of a lot of these sites around. Of course, if you take the view that /anyone/ having pictures of kids on a website is merely pandering to the perverts then I suspect there's a bit more than 1% still active... and given the reports of a tiny minority of parents in public places (parks, playgrounds, swimming pools, school sports days) getting arsey when someone takes photos near their children, I can quite easily see the politicos mistaking "innocent kiddie photos" for "evil kiddie porn" when telling us what a wonderful job the IWF have done, and are doing.

    Beware Citizen. The Computer is Watching YOU.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    RE: Graham Marsden comment

    ...or actually British (see Gordon Brown)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jeez ...

    You could not make this shit up.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How many IWF sites are hosted in the EU?

    If a website is hosted in a country where child pornography is illegal, is it better to ring the ISP and get the site taken down? Or is it better to block the website only in that country?

    In the EU you can get any childporn website taken down with a telephone call to the ISP hosting it.

    So why are their websites on the IWF list that are hosted in the EU (or US for that matter where the same rule applies!)? The list therefore must be junk.

    You should bar censorship of EU sites, because if the site really was a child porn site it would be better to have it taken down, and so the censorship must be a falsehood.

  15. bertie bassett
    Black Helicopters

    IWF List Analysis on WikiLeaks

    Have a read of this article on wikileaks - which does an analysis of the IWF list and points out ways in which you might be able to reverse-engineer the details some of the sites black-listed.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Regarded as a model"

    Note the lack of adjectives such as "good".

  17. Andraž Levstik

    Please please please

    Lock the IWF away in a dark dark sub sub sub sub basement and keep it there... We don't want it... We have a perfectly workable system around here... -> english version:

    It actually works reliably and it is about EDUCATING children and parents about issues on the internet as well as a point to report kiddie porn and such. Though some points I don't agree with like monitor your kids behaviour online, check their chat logs, browsing history etc...

    I would prefer if kids and parents actually had a dialog about what's going on instead of this being a one sided the parent is always right debate.

  18. PPPie
    Paris Hilton

    Vomit worthy hypocritical british bs

    It's fine for the UK to filter, but if any other country does it it's human rights...

    Paris, because she wished her leaked video was censored...

  19. fajensen

    That would be progress!


    Or do you want the EU to be as popular as NuLabour?


    The EU is not up for election: It is a system of graft created by politicians for politicians - in that regard too the EU is like NuLab!!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Mixed feelings...

    I think the IWF are quite often the subject of unfair critisism, imo. As an organisation they are often painted as this tiny masonic right-wing coven of people censoring anything they consider inappropriate; the truth is undoubtedly quite far from this.

    True story - a while ago a came across a file on a website which freaked me out - it was a pornographic audio file (no pictures) but claimed to be of a 17 year old. I reported it to the IWF who got back to me and told me that it wasn't within their remit because it wasn't an image. I contacted them to ask further questions, and they sent me back a detailed email explaining the law, how this applied in this case and suggestions on who else I could contact if I wanted further clarification.

    My point is that they didn't simply go ahead and blacklist the site I referred; and they were very open to telling me their reasons. I never got the impression of any kind of conspiratorial secrecy - they were laying out their logic and interpretation of law quite clearly for me in response to my questions.

    The real problem is not the IWF but the way in which the legislation is written. The most recent research the IWF did last year was carried out to encourage people coming into contact with illegal material to report it; but people are terrified to do so because the laws are so draconian and as a 'strict liability offence' people naturally feel they are in danger of being accused of the very thing they want to report. The initial decision of the Germans to try and log every IP attempting to access something on the block list, and report them to law enforcement, would have done nothing but increase peoples paranoia and fear about contact with this material. How can you ask for the public's assistance in tackling this stuff if they are left unsure about where reporting it will leave them?

    Surely a better solution would be to make the whole thing open - actively encourage the public to find and report this stuff and then make a concerted effort to target the providers? After the wikipedia issue many people will consider the kinds of things the IWF is blocking to be equivalent to the Scorpions Cover. While I can't know that this absolutely isn't the case, I doubt it is and I suspect the true nature of what they're blocking is far worse than anything I would want to imagine. Why not use the overwhelming intolerance and anger of the general public (towards child abusers) in a positive way to help make a significant dent in this problem, rather than restricting it to cartoonish lynch mobs outside court rooms?

This topic is closed for new posts.