back to article ISPs and Vaizey set to bump heads over default porn filter

A meeting on Monday between Minister for Culture Ed Vaizey and representatives of UK ISPs could be a game-changing moment for the way in which we are all allowed to use the internet. At stake is the seemingly academic question of whether PCs should arrive with adult filters turned off - the current default - or on. Presently …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    If it is the "mobile" filter level it covers not only porn

    Try researching something on World War history or history of the more recent wars.

    You will find a lot of material prohibited by default at least on Vodafone because it mentions such profoundly dangerous subjects like guns and munitions.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: mobile filters

      I recently visited a manufacturer of slot machines, and needed to verify their address en-route (the sat-nav was misleading).

      Out with the smartphone. Searched for their name. Tried to go to their "contact us" page.

      Got the "this is an adult site" block page.


  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you'd have thought

    You'd have thought Childrens charities would have something more important to do with their time, like support sporting facilities, youth groups, better education for teachers and parents in noticing danger signs of abuse, and a half dozen other things.

    Remind me again the last time a child went out and bought a computer and then subscribed to an isp?

    The government has no role inside our homes and should get on with what it's supposed to be doing and that's making sure we have a working economy and infrastructure once they can manage that competently, well then they can have some time off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The government has already arrogated itself a role within every aspect of our lives. The "debate" has become how forceful and obvious it should be about that.

      As for getting the economy running, the government should do as little as possible in order to allow private enterprise to take the strain. Every goverment job is a net drain on the economy and as many as possible should be eliminated.

      How much of what the government does is actually necessary? One could argue that healthcare is necessary, and roads. Local government should take care of basic infrastructure and keeping things clean (they were originally set up as water authorities to guarantee the quality of water supplies and that was it, everything else has been tacked on since then) along with law enforcement. Education, perhaps could be considered an absolutely vital government function. What else should they do beyond that? That's your absolute basics and all that a government strictly needs to do to provide a functional society. Everything else the government is involved in could easily be handled by private organisations and charities, and probably to a better level of quality as well as long as the government doesn't decide it needs to tell them exactly how to do their job.

      There we go, two problems solved at once: the government is out of our lives and the budget is cut almost in half overnight. Hurrah!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        However freeing the economy of self perpetuating bureaucracy would technically be a thing government would do (though they would, as they'd be doing themselves out of a job)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Cos it worked so well with the trains didn't it!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Did you use the trains before they were privatised?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward



            Shite as they were, they were still far better than the crap that National Express provides now.

            There's quite a ream of other examples, which some may agree with and some won't. Rather than listing them (because I can't be arsed on a Friday) I'll just say there's a reason a lot of people detest Thatcher and friends.

            Privatisation does work sometimes though

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            @AC 1259

            Yes. We didn't have the best railway in the world, but it was a damn sight better value for the user (and particularly the taxpayer!) than anything we have seen since. Oh, and you could buy a ticket from anywhere to anywhere without studying a 400 page decision tree to guide your purchase.

            If British Rail had seen half the public money pee'd away on private operators, we might well have something more like a proper service.

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        1. MarkieMark1

          no jury service for you then

          'a trustee of the National Churches Trust' != 'shares the religious viewpoint of -- radicals'

          "Our mission is to promote a culture that recognises and supports church buildings of historic, architectural and community value. If you have an interest in churches, we hope you will find something useful here"

          I'd wager good money he'll be happy to promote 'opt-in' to filtering, as a sensible measure, your apparent animosity to everything the 'Church' stands for should not cloud your objective judgment.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Filter Tip

            Porn is not something that children stumble upon accidentally, it has to be sought out as any hormonal teenager will confirm. All the major search-engines provide graded levels of filtering that parents can select and set as appropriate for their children.

            What we parents don't require is an ignorant religious bigot like Perry trying to impose her views on the rest of us.

      2. Naughtyhorse

        when i think of protecting children...

        Its mostly about protecting them FROM repressed god botherers.

        but what do i know about it :-S

        1. Anonymous Coward


          "when i think of protecting children Its mostly about protecting them FROM repressed god botherers."

          Religion is like a penis.

          It's fine to have one.

          It's fine to be proud of it.

          But please don't whip it out and wave it about in public.

          And never try and ram it down my childs throat.

          Nope, no bible in there.

  3. fivegoldstars
    Paris Hilton


    ...lead to some interesting FOI requests...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    And premium rate phones services to be "opt in" too

    Funny, how when big business stands to *lose*, they suddenly become interested in freedom of choice.

    My son, aged 7, managed to saddle us with a £20 phone bill, after he dialled a premium rate "tips line" advertised on one of his PS2 games, without our knowing. Contacted Telewest (as 'twas) and discovered you need to pay £1/month to have premium rate numbers blocked.

    Ever since then, it's been a personal bugbear of mine that such services should be OFF by default - if you want them, you need to ask for them.

    After all, it's not as if the telcos business model relies on people abusing the premium rate system to make money is it ? I mean all revenue they gain from operating premium rate services is from people who really want to use the service, isn't it ?

    Anyway, back to the story in hand. Personally I have no problem with filtering being on by default, as long as grown-ups can removed or modify it themselves. I do not want a "uk.plc approved" internet.

    Now, where's that list of VPN providers ?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It's allways someone elses fault, eh?

      "Ever since then, it's been a personal bugbear of mine that such services should be OFF by default - if you want them, you need to ask for them"

      This is EXACTLEY what I HATE. No, they should not be off by default. It's only your fault the situation occurred. In this case you didn't know what your kid was doing AND you didn't know about the services and facilities offered by your phone company.

      Only yourself to blame and absolutely no justification to make any changes.

      Thanks for a clearly demonstrating my complaint.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        You won't be so smug ...

        when you get burgled, and the theives run up a £1,500 bill on your phone, which your insurance doesn't cover, and your telco takes you to court for ...

        It's got nothing to do with raising kids, or abrogating responsibility, and everything to do with being sensible. How many people use premium rate services as a proportion of the population ? 10% 5% 1% ? So how does that justify leaving the service "on" by default ? Bear in mind we needed to get to >50% of the population being non smokers, before the smoking ban started to be discussed seriously.

        1. Dr. Mouse

          Beg to differ...

          "It's got nothing to do with raising kids, or abrogating responsibility, and everything to do with being sensible. How many people use premium rate services as a proportion of the population ?"

          I would say this has nothing to do with the argument.

          Any "filtering" system which blocks access to legal content of any kind should be opt-in.

          If you wish to have premium-rate numbers blocked on your phone, it should be up to you to ask for it. If you wish to have internet porn blocked on your connection, you should set it up. If you do not want your little girl playing with Barbie dolls because they "promote an unhealthy body image" (or some such reason), don't lobby the toy shop to stop selling them or place them in an out-of-the-way corner, it's not your place to dictate to others.

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge


          I don't think them being ON by default is really an issue.

          The telco charging you monthly to block them is what I'd be complaining about.

          As for being burgled and running up a 1.5k bill, what f*ckin thief is going to do that? Maybe if they own the premium rate number. Dunno about you, but I could probably fence most of my stuff for more than that.

          And he's right, you should've known what your kid was doing.

          Getting back on topic, don't want your kid to access porn? Read a fucking book on how to properly install and configure a filter. Don't expect me and every other ISP subscriber to pay so that you can stay ignorant on a subject that you _claim_ to care about

          1. Mark 65

            @Ben Tasker

            "As for being burgled and running up a 1.5k bill, what f*ckin thief is going to do that?"

            Probably the same sort that smears their shit on your walls I'd imagine.

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  5. Pirate Peter

    and how long??

    "This approach is rejected by Safermedia, which takes the line that an opt-in system, verifying that a user is over 18, is a simple common sense protection for children."

    and how long before a teenager gets a freing to set up a profile so they can access adult content?

    the same friend who goes into the local off licence and buys the drinks using the money provided to them by the under age drinker so long as they get a free bottle or two

    its another case of low hanging easy fruit that makes big headlines but actually achieves bugger all of the objectives

    just puts yet more holes in the rights of UK citizens and then the list of filtered topics / material will increase until we can only see tesco and asda's websites

    1. Elmer Phud


      I went on a site yesterday that wasn't NSFW but still wanted me to put in a birthdate beofre going any further (I was looking at a site for a company that does rum).

      I simply put in a date that satisfied the machine and carried on -- similarly with those sites that have the option for 'click here if you are over 18' - -is that really, really going to stop your average teenager?

      how about a young person who wants to do research on kiddy-fiddlers? Left to the 'advice' of the Mail, Telegraph, Express etc. etc.?

      Gawd, they'll have us going back to sharing dodgy pics by floppy disc.

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  6. Skrrp


    Get the children off the adult internet. Easy.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up


      ... the question is simple: Do you treat everyone as adults or everyone as children?

      Should we all be required to say "Please Sir, can I look at this" or should we say "If I have children *I* am the one responsible for their safety be it out in the big wide world or inside on the big World Wide Web...?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Purpose of Filtering

    "At the moment, awareness of filtering technology is low and filters can be worked around, especially by IT-savvy children."

    At the point when kids are deliberately and actively going looking for it, then you might as well not bother. They're sexually curious and are going to get it one way or another. I'm under no illusion about how 14 year old boys think, or the lengths they will go to. They will just trade information about gaps in the filtering or one kid will be the source of all images to USB sticks behind the bike sheds. And if they're looking for it, they're hardly likely to be shocked either.

    The reason for filtering is that your kids are not accidentally or maliciously exposed to such images when they aren't expecting it. It protects your 8 year old from seeing stuff they could be disturbed by because they misspelt a domain or were sent some spam.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Every time this kind of issue comes up, the focus is almost exclusively about sex and nothing else.

      There are plenty of things on the internet that are far more disturbing, damaging (and just down right sick) than watching people shagging, but yet this rarely seems to be acknowledged.

      I've had (ex) friends send me stuff for "a laugh" that torments me to this day, so I can only imagine what a child would make of it.

      Are the people making these proposals really so stupid that they think sex is the worst possible thing that a child (or adult come to that) could see on the internet?

      I'm not suggesting for a moment that children should be allowed access to sexually explicit material, but if these MPs and organisations are claiming that their aim is to "protect" children, then why do they only ever focus on sex to the exclusion of all else?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Monkey rapes frog?

        Just asking.

        Never want to see that again!

      2. Semaj


        "Are the people making these proposals really so stupid that they think sex is the worst possible thing that a child (or adult come to that) could see on the internet?"

        Yes. Yes they are.

        Notice that in films you can have as much gore and shocking scenes as you like (as long as it's a "fantasy" setting) but anything even remotely sexual is an instant 18.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "why do they only ever focus on sex to the exclusion of all else?"

        Because sex/nudity is wrong (imagine that - natural human appearance and behaviour is a sin! What a great deal for those who run the church.) but a bit of violence never hurt anyone! Especially religious violence, the best and most prolific kind. Ever.

        You see there's this pretend guy called Satan who lives in a pretend place called Hell. If you want to kill someone, just pretend that Satan is controlling him/her and start cracking those skulls together. Just make sure you check which god they believe in first. Wouldn't want to score any own-goals.

  8. s. pam

    Fucking Nanny State

    I love the UK

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Fucking Nannies?

      That will be blocked by the filter

  9. Anonymous Coward


    "Education is of limited value given children generally do not understand the dangers..."

    What do Safermedia think education is?

    Let's not teach children literacy, since children generally can't read. Let's not teach children arithmetic, since children generally don't know how to do sums. Let's not teach them PE, since they're generally unfit. Let's not teach them how to cross the road, or about drugs, or sexually transmitted diseases, since "children generally do not understand the dangers".

    What do Safermedia think childhood is?

    1. Naughtyhorse

      godbotherers are, by default, against education

      it's a survival trait.

      prolly came about by some kind of natural selection :D

      Every tech advance seen by our civilisation has been fought tooth and nail by the godbotherers, the more dark corners we illuminate, the more obvious it becomes that their invisible friend is just 'lies told to children' <tm terry pratchett>

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Silly woman

    "MPs like Claire Perry, the Conservative member for Devizes, who back in November last year proposed an opt-in age verification system before anyone could access internet porn" - as if she honestly believes that it is possible to block porn from anyone, under age or not.

    Oh, yes, she does believe it. That is why she is promising the undeliverable which is what all good politicians do when they haven't got any solid promises to offer that they can keep.

    1. Mark 65

      Re:Silly Woman

      Yep, I'm sure she thinks she has come up with a real barn-stormer of an idea until she realises that, given they all live in the same household, any verification that can be done by the adult can no doubt be performed by the child pretending to be the adult.

      1. Кевин

        Re:Silly Woman

        Just before the big puberty hit, I used to manage my mothers landline account as she was far too busy doing other things than parenting.

        I can tell you it's not that difficult if you sound remotely like them, speak in a manner that an adult would and know those key bits of information such as Date of Birth, Post Code and Full Name.

        I'm now 27 and I'm pretty sure I could still pull it off if I ever needed to. Sorry Claire :(


    Its not an 'academic question'

    Its a fundamental question of freedom of speech, freedom of association, and parental responsibility.

    Communications censorship is a fools paradise; it amounts to a dereliction of parental responsibility and supervision.

    It is impossible to categorise child safe material - sexuality, religion, art, music, war, health being particularly complex topics to delineate.

    As a protection measure, censorship can never safeguard children from grooming or bullying.

    And if it is restricted to a single unencrypted protocol (like http) it will be easy to circumvent by means of email or SSL. did ask Ed Vaizey if he would meet with anti-censorship campaigners to discuss, but he didn't bother to reply.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about increasing awareness of existing solutions.

    If you don't want to be subjected to various stuff on the net opendns can filter it for you, there's probably others, I don't really care. It's free and existing. I don't want to have to pay a share of the cost of my ISP implementing a filter that i'm only going to disable anyway.

    To be honest, if you're technically naive to implement a filtering solution that your child can't circumvent (opendns + non-default pwd on router should do the trick) then you probably should cancel your isp subscription before you hand over your bank details to a criminal anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      (opendns + non-default pwd on router should do the trick)

      It is my understanding that you can point a client machine to any DNS server.

      Therefore you would need to lock down the client machines too. At this point you might as well piss into the wind. With physical access, a 12 year old can root pretty much any Windows or Linux box. The tools/instructions are out there, and I don’t suppose for a second that you’ll be able to effectively filter them. If worst comes to worst kids will invite the school nerd over and he’ll have their system dual booting Linux in 5 minutes.

      There is no substitute for parenting. If you can’t be assed to teach your kid how to behave, or you can’t be assed to raise them as a trustworthy person, then they won’t be. And it will be YOUR fault.

  13. Tigra 07

    Not looking forward to these developments.

    Sickipedia and Fitlads are favourites to block by o2.

    One is mostly offensive jokes and the other is a gay social network with the option for naughty photos.

    It's how you use the web really, without painting everyone as a parent with underage porn watching kids.

    Besides, how can they slag off the Australian Firewall if they're implementing one anyway but at a slower pace?

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      @Tigra 07

      "One is mostly offensive jokes and the other is a gay social network with the option for naughty photos."

      But is it O2's *business* to require it's customers to verify their age? Or keep track of your interests?

      Do they have *need* to ask? Or a *need* to know?

  14. Kevin Johnston

    and just how?

    "MPs like Claire Perry, the Conservative member for Devizes, who back in November last year proposed an opt-in age verification system before anyone could access internet porn"

    How do you think that would actually work then. You would need everyone to have a defined standard of ID which would prove conclusively that they were over 18. Something like a national ID card scheme perhaps?

    As with ALL these ideas, they only cause an issue for the middle ground. The people who don't want go there won't have a problem, the ones (including the under-18s) who are determined to go there will get there but the poor old middle ground who might, just possibly, think about having a quick peek to see what the fuss is all about......they are royally stuffed.

    How about Occam's razor......the simplest solution is for parent's to ensure their little darlings are aware of the risks and monitored on a random basis to let them know you want them to take responsibility but that you still care for their safety. They will make mistakes and cause you headaches but that is part of the learning process for all involved.

    If you are never allowed to learn to assess risk in a safe environment, how the hell will you manage it when you are sent out alone into that cold, cold world.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      @Kevin Johnston

      "and just how? "

      Well I'll tell you how she *thinks* it would work.

      She says there are roughly 250million websites and about 30million of them are porn.


      There are only 450 land line UK ISP's and about 6 of them hold IIRC 92% of the market.

      Apparently gambling sites require entry of your name and a valid UK bank account. They can actually check this information against the UK electoral roll and valid UK bank accounts (thank you Tony Blair and the last round of OMG TOTC b*****ks)

      Get every web site age graded (she did not mention how that would happen. See para 3)

      From then I guess no valid UK name + bank account means nothing above a U certificate. she did not specify if this is at browser startup, router startup or on a site by site basis (but in her words "It doesn't take Bill Gates to figure out how to make this work")

      Hey presto children will be forever shielded from the menace of "Inappropriate content"

      Yes. She really is serious about this. Vaizey represented the government at the debate (all 44 mins on her website. 44mins I'll never get back) and loved her idea. BTW there were only about 7 MP's who turned up for this "major issue"

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From: Hustler Magazine V's Falwell Supreme Court Decision.

    "The fact that society may find speech offensive is not a sufficient reason for suppressing it. Indeed, if it is the speaker's opinion that gives offense, that consequence is a reason for according it constitutional protection. For it is a central tenet of the First Amendment that the government must remain neutral in the marketplace of ideas."

    Seems so obvious when put like that.

    As for the "think of the children" aspect, it ain't my job mate, they're your kids.

    1. LegalAlien

      and in Europe...

      ..."Freedom of expression applies not only to information which is favourably received, but also to that which shocks, offends and disturbs" (European Court of Human Rights, Handyside v UK judgment 1976)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Now all we need is for my fellow Brits to get it, everyone else seems to understand what free speech means.

  16. Lamont Cranston


    "ISPA’s view is that the most effective way to control children and young people’s access to content on the Internet is through parental control software."

    That seems reasonable. I'm pretty sure that my DVD-player has a parental control option, but I've never needed it, as my kids don't get unmonitored access to it (or the DVD collection). Likewise, I'll let them on the PC, under my supervision. When they're older, I'll make some effort at filtering what they can access, but not be so naive as to assume that it'll be 100% foolproof - it'd be like asking boys to not look at the top shelf in the newsagents.

    Parental responsibility, what a crazy notion.

    "parents can be too busy, or uninterested and sometimes not even literate" - no excuse for the first two, the third is just depressing.

  17. JaitcH

    The UK's facing unforeseen financial challenges and they waste their ...

    energy and resources discussing InterNet filters? Some one has their priorities severely mixed up.

    Porn for one person is light titillation for others. It doesn't matter what medium looks in to there is someone's idea off porn. It doesn't matter whether it is an art photograph, a famous painting, a statue even abstract art - someone will complain about pornography.

    The government would dare allow standards to be set by communities - it means relinquishing too much control.

    It works in other countries. Police in other countries consult with the prosecution and then, if judged as having crossed the line, off to court and a judge, with a jury, render a decision - some decisions are quite forward looking.

    Why should the decisions be made by do-gooders who think their morals should be foisted upon the general population?

    Let the government clean up the banking industry, the pollution crisis and the crowded roads before they waste their time on this.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Human Rights...

    Why is it that I have a human right to be protected from second hand smoke, but don't have one to protect me from second-hand Christian fundamentalism.

    As a tax paying, productive member of society, why should I be forced to embarrass myself to someone in a call centre by requesting I have access to "adult" material (by whatever definition the religious fascists determine that to be), just because someone else's sky fairyism tells them they shouldn't do it?

    Anon, expecting a flaming from the moralising right, called a "paedo" or some such because I don't agree with them...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Human Rights

      Surely you must understand that people like Ayatollah Perry are much too busy doing god's work and collecting their parliamentary salaries to actually spend time supervising their children. The hired help look after her kids while Claire Perry tries to impose her will on how we choose to bring up our own kids.

      Can we please have a religious filter (on by default) to constrain this minority of deranged lunatics from imposing their beliefs on everyone else. Mr Vaisey?

    2. Anonymous Coward

      ... you've volunteered to give those up

      Don't worry, for the moment they're only collecting names. It won't be until Jacqui and the Frauleiters get back into power that you will be interviewed about your "issues" and if necessary sent to the re-education camp.

      They're only trying to protect society. Just as the Chinese do against Tibetan insurrectionists, or the STASI did when they kept tabs on people who talked to dangerous foreigners.

  19. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    But the thing is

    Yes, you can quite reliably block porn - while blocking almost everything else. If that's acceptable - to the government - it certainly is feasible.

    On other forums I've seen parents apparently worrying that the "Call of Duty" video game they got for their kid is so violent. Most editions are a certificate 15 or 18. I'm not sure if that means it's illegal to give the game to an underage player, but my point is that parents aren't careful, maybe don't know to be.

    How about if the passcode to unlock the mandatory porn filter is on a card supplied in the box with the PC, so you don't have to make the embarrassing phone call? Just make sure the card goes straight it!nto Dad's wallet and not into little Jimmy's pocket.

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Vaizey *promised* this meeting in the adjournement debate in Novmeber*

    So you see the definition of a honest politician.

    One who keeps his word.

    To other MP's.

    *It's in the last 10-14 mins of the debate (total audience <10) when he promises to act as an "honest broker" and offers Ms Perry the chance to invite whoever she wants along.

    BTW Vaizey "Does not believe" ISP's are "dumb pipes". But it's OK as they aren't like the Royal Mail, opening every letter and parcel on the off chance that they are doing something illegal.

  21. Cam S


    Who exactly is being "bombarded" with porn? Seriously, who? It's not like you go to Google, Wikipedia, Youtube, Facebook or anything like that and 6 porn videos instantly start playing simultaneously without warning. You generally have to be looking for it in the first place. I'll admit that sometimes one comes across it by accident, such as when conducting certain searches of an ornithological nature, i.e. great tits. (NSFW, but a Google Image search with Safesearch off turns up lots of birds and great tits hehe). The solution to that is to practice safe browsing. Use Firefox, Adblock Plus, NoScript, a good hosts file, and even OpenDNS if you so wish. There are more than plenty of tools out there for parents to safeguard their kids' online experiences. Hell, the ISPs are even offering help! However, the best tools of all are supervision and talking to your kids about what they see online. Oh wait, that would require people to actually take some responsibility for themselves.. can't have that! It MUST be someone else's fault, someone else's burden, someone else's responsibility!

    The worst part is that groups like Safermedia never stop. They create the illusion of a problem so they can push their solution. They make it seem like the only reason they exist is to get porn blocked, but if they succeed they don't just say, "Job well done, let's pack it in," they find some new monster under some kid's bed to blow out of proportion. Where does "think of the children" stop? Where does the filtering stop? Who decides what gets filtered? Is the process transparent? Is there a way to get a site removed if it's added by mistake? Will it always be optional? Will Mother Government tuck us in at night and tell us nice, happy, censor-approved bedtime stories? "Don't worry, we've always been at war with Eastasia..."

  22. Mark .

    It's opt-out, not opt-in!

    They are arguing for *opt-out*.

    Please let's not confuse the terminology - the pro-censorship lobby are twisting the words so that they refer to it as "opt in" when actually they mean filtered by default. Their reasoning being, you "opt in" to porn. This argument is wrong on a technical level (it implies that sites being filtered is the default unless you unfilter them), and on a semantic level (the "thing" we're referring to is not pr0n, but the filtering system, and that system is definitely opt out).

    In the earlier Commons "debate" (I use the term loosely), MP Claire Perry was proposing that anything unsuitable for under *14* year olds should be filtered by default. Now I doubt we'll get something that mad, but it does show what they're pushing for, and how this isn't just about pr0n.

    Last time I looked, children can't get non-mobile Internet access without parental permission - they're getting it because they're parents allow them to go online with their connection. So we already have the default situation being that children can't access it (and for mobiles, it's already filtered by default anyway).

    A problem with opt-out system is also, what about sites that are wrongly filtered? This could be businesses losing customers, or other sites - how do they get all of their potential viewers to switch the filter off?

    The comment about being beamed "unasked" for shows little understanding of basic Internet workings. Material is only downloaded if people request it. How about we have the Safermedia website censored by default, so we don't have to have it "beamed unasked" into our homes? See how they like it.

    1. Pablo
      Big Brother

      Of course

      "Children's" charities are the undisputed masters of newspeak. War is peace, opt-out is opt-in, restrictions are rights.

  23. LinkOfHyrule

    "from flower-arranging to extreme dogging"

    "from flower-arranging to extreme dogging - Microsoft Bing - the only search engine you need!"

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just as an aside

    Why does Jerry Barnett pick out single women? Does he not think single men would be equally embarrassed? I certainly do.

  25. Fuzz

    filtering doesn't work

    Even if you decide that this is fine and you have no problem opting in or out there's only one kind of Internet filtering that works and that's to have a white list of all the OK sites and only allow access to those. Problem with that is that you can't possibly know all of the OK sites so most of the Internet is suddenly unavailable.

    Internet filtering has to be dealt with locally because it's only at a local level that you can decide what is suitable and what isn't.

    How much do they think this service is going to cost to run? I'm guessing they're expecting the ISPs to pay for it. That just means that Internet users will have to pay for it. Well I don't want to.

    Who's held accountable the first time a child manages to visit a site that isn't on the blacklist?

    If this was possible to do ISPs would already run a service where you could opt in to a filtered Internet connection, but it's not so they don't. What they do is offer advice on how to do this yourself at home.

    1. Pablo

      And it gets better

      One kind of site that DEFINITELY has to be kept off the safe list is anything with unmoderated user-generated content. So that's like... every popular site on the internet.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Common sense", moral panic style

    "Safermedia, [...] takes the line that an opt-in system, verifying that a user is over 18, is a simple common sense protection for children."

    Because at heart, we're all children, including everyone who is over 18. Always. This is turning "innocent until proven guilty" on its head.

    "This means that children and those not wishing to have pornography beamed unasked for into their homes and on their mobile phones are not being bombarded, while those adults who do, can opt in."

    It seems so reasonable. But do explain, how come I'm not getting bombarded now without ever having to have opted out?

    "At the moment, awareness of filtering technology is low and filters can be worked around, especially by IT-savvy children. Education is of limited value given children generally do not understand the dangers and parents can be too busy, or uninterested and sometimes not even literate."

    So because *some* parents *can be* irresponsible ("too busy" is never an excuse, "illiterate" means you haven't done your homework), everybody must always be treated as such, including those who do not have children?

    As a parent _it is your job_ to be responsible for your children and if that means staying ahead of your children's learning curve, then that just adds to the burden of being a parent. Don't you go offloading that on everybody else, you bad parent, you.

    "Neither can they police every device or their children's friends homes."

    Nobody needs to police every device possible. All you need is to strictly control what devices the children come into contact with, just as you would need to strictly control what other kids you let your children play with, in what homes, and so on. It does mean you have to have a clue. Which is clearly sadly lacking in this bunch.

    "Therefore it is not feasible or reasonable to rely on parental responsibility alone to protect children from the material the industry is producing."

    Demagogue's rhetoric. Nobody said you had to rely on parental responsibility alone. The industry is falling over itself to accomodate you with tools to strengthen that parental responsibility on as-needed basis. Censorship by default, as you want, simply isn't reasonable.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    I've got a little list...

    I guess the "Safermedia" secret agenda is to create (in effect) a database of people interested in what they regard as illicit content. Once you have such a list you can do all sorts of things. How about linking it to CRB checks? Using it as a filter to decide whose traffic deserves extra attention? Or just the good old fashioned tactic of leaking names to the press or various self-appointed ayatollahs? Speaking of which, I don't see any mention in the Safermedia propaganda of the need to restrict children's access to fundamentalist religious websites. What a surprise!

    If this comes about, it really should be termed the Vaizey Register, so when the unpleasant consequences become obvious, he can't wriggle out of the blame.

  28. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    I'd love to know what Safemedia showed Ms Perry at their recent conference.

    Not see it.

    Just a rough description.

    Only if it's what I *think* it is that's a strict liability offense and she *and* they should go to prison for it.

    Oh wait.

    She (and they) are *special* (like all such groups) and should not be locked up for it and will not be harmed by viewing it, even though in a sense they *want* to view this material.

    I don't think Safermedia are subject to FoI requrests.

    But what about Ms Perry?

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Setting a precedent.

    I think the this might have more with setting the precedent that ISP's can be held accountable for the content they supply far more than "thinking of the children".

    Just look at who's advocating this, Vaizey has responsibilities in both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

    Media and business eh. could his motivations be more focussed on piracy than porn?

    I might be just paranoid but it smells to high heaven.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suggest

    I suggest someone does this at the meeting

  31. C. P. Cosgrove
    Thumb Down

    Caan it work ?

    Two aspects of this debate puzzle me. The first is that you can arrive on a porn site totally by accident, as happened to me once when I was looking for some CAD software on Google - I think the exact search terms were 'PCB design software' . This isn't even closely related to the 'Great tits' quoted earlier !

    The second is that any form of control tends to be a blunt instrument. As a volunteer, I teach basic computing in our local library - yes, we still have one ! I was showing someone how to use a search engine, and it is more relevant when teaching if the student has an interest in the subject. In this case it was angina, this student suffered from it. Plugging 'Angina' into Google came up with the message 'Access denied, information of a medical or sexual nature' !

    When I queried this, I was told it was for child protection. Following a complaint from me, this policy has now been changed. The public access computer in the childrens' area is now fully restricted, the five or six in the adult area now have, as far as I know, unrestricted access. I haven't actually tried to access my favourite porn site from the library - why should I ? - but I can get information on angina without restriction !

    Chris Cosgrove

  32. Dick Emery

    Stupid idea

    Anyone with a family and a computer will know this.

    Password protect Windows OS (Most used OS out there on the desktop).

    Adult logs in. Stays logged in. Child wants to use computer. Do they logout and use their own login? Hardly. They use the adults login that is already open.

    Same goes for internet access. So you verify you are an adult on first setup. From then on everyone in the family who uses it as 'an adult'. Even if you had to verify you were an adult to login each time I doubt everyone who is an adult will logout of the net each time 'just in case' little Precious wants to log into the internet. And on every net connected device in the house ?

    I don't think so!

  33. Annihilator Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Bombarded and beamed

    "This means that children and those not wishing to have pornography beamed unasked for into their homes and on their mobile phones are not being bombarded, while those adults who do, can opt in."

    Where is this happening and how? Is there a pornographer outside this woman's house with a projector pointed through her window? Or has she missed how the internet works, in that you *request* it.

    Bloody oxygen thieves...

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Laws do not stop criminals

    Simple statement,

    No law has ever stopped a crime frome being commited.

    Fear of being caught and punished will stop most crimes.

    The pornographers will simply tag their junk as child-friendly to bypass the filters.

    Regarding premium rate calls:

    A burglar can break into your home and dial a premium rate line then leave the phone off the hook.

    The service provider hands on the bill payer's hard earned cash tto a criminal in Brazil or wherever.

    The bill payer is then taken to court for not paying the bill.

    That is the law!

    The service provide will not help the bill payer unless served with a court order.

    The police and courts do not care.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge


      "Laws do not stop criminals"

      Quite true

      "The pornographers will simply tag their junk as child-friendly to bypass the filters."

      You equate adult entertainment with breaking the law. Most of these folk already subscribe to *all* the main web filtering services (the ones already *fitted* to all new UK PCs) which Ms Perry can't seem to work (or hire someone to work for her). You might also notice the age buttons warning people of adult content and asking them to confirm they are over the age of consent.

      Note that. You might *go* to the site by accident but you'd have to be illiterate in the language the web site is written in (and the website would have to have no pictures on its welcome page) for you *not* to realize what you're about to do.

      This is *not* a self certification scheme. She expects someone to "Certify" them.

      All c250 million web sites.

      To meet the standards of the Obscene Publications Act (watch the video. She outlines her whole "cunning" plan to the other 7 odd wingnuts who actually turned up)

      An Interesting side point (she neatly avoids) how would YouTube work? *many* "content suppliers" who aren't familiar with the contents of the OPA. And frankly WTF would they be?

      It's a tolerant smile. which is rather more than you can expect from Ms Perry.

  35. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Most actual adult sites don't *want* to show things to underage viewers.

    This is because they are in the *adult* (as in by and for) entertainment industry.

  36. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Big Brother

    Funny how these proposals always start

    Let's make a little list.

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