back to article PM writes ISPs' web filter ads for them - and it must say 'default on'

Britain's four biggest telcos are under pressure from the Prime Minister to describe their forthcoming network-level internet filters as "default on" by 22 July, The Register understands. A well-placed industry source told us today that Tory leader David Cameron will make an announcement about the web content controls next …


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  1. Anonymous Noel Coward

    No sex please, we're British.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      AC Noel

      Right, you usually replace those scenes with playmobil wasn't it? ;-)

    2. Dazed and Confused

      Re: No sex please, we're British.

      blocking lega> sites that contain porn, violence and other material that parents might deem to be inappropriate for their kids.

      Err no, not actually, they have no interest in filtering out what "Parents feel is inappropriate for their kids"

      What they are only interested in is censoring what they feel is appropriate for my kids.

      Their views and mine are frequently not the same.

      1. MrXavia
        Thumb Up

        Re: No sex please, we're British.


        What I find inappropriate is not what others would, and what others find inappropriate I find acceptable...

        But I am in favour of filters on the router, but NOT at ISP level,

        unless the adults in the house can control which computer can do what, then there is no control..

        Anyway, by the time my kids are interested in sex, I expect them to be able to bypass any filter I put in place...

        But if you trust your kids, and teach them right from wrong, unfettered internet access is no more risk than letting them go to town with friends or to the local library (if they still exist)

        1. Euripides Pants

          Re: the local library

          We still have them in the US. But, then, ours is a backward and uncivilized land.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No sex please, we're British.

        You really think it's only about filtering content not suitable for kids? The parents and single adults are next. In other words, this filtering has abuse written all over it. Just a question of time. (me waves to GCHQ and NSA)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Usually I'm suspicious of almost all government control. But, horror of horrors, I can actually see this working. Just as crime is related to opportunity, so, ahem, children viewing porn is related to opportunity. The reality is *there will be fewer children seeing at porn* and that's going to be a good thing.

      I have to be honest and relate a story here about my own child. When she was about eight years old loads of kids had come round with their parents for a house party. All the kids went upstairs and, as kids left to their own devices are prone to do, they were starting to get overexcited. We could hear them all evening. But then at about 8pm, after a flurry if giggling and conspiratorial voices, suddenly there was complete silence. "What's going on?" I thought, "this is unnatural." I sneaked upstairs and found them all sitting around the computer. They (I won't name names) had been using the web browser and typed and into the browser. Innocence shattered (not sure what's at those addresses now, don't want to know).

      A couple of points here. First my daughter had my partners password. I was always quite careful to ensure different accounts were used, but my partner saw that as me just being anal. Second she had her own account on her own laptop that was pretty much unlimited anyway. I had found the site blocking software at the time to be a pain in the arse, so switched it off and relied on having a good talk with her about the Internet and the fact that generally she was and remains a sensible girl. But if I'm honest, I wonder if that was good enough, and wonder if I could be arsed enough and if my "can't be arsed-ness" was post justified a bit too much by arguments and concerns over freedom from censorship etc. because the reality is, now my daughter is grown up (yes she's well edjusted etc) I do think it would have been better if the bad stuff was less available for her and all her friends, especially between the crucial ages 8 to 14 (well i know because i had logging switched on at the router), but who knows what she saw, at friends houses.

      Clearly this was not going to be enough to prevent all encounters. I'm sure these new measures won't prevent all encounters anyway, but they surely will reduce how much children see. I'm suspicious of most things state controlled, but a can't say I can bring myself to get in a lather about this being the thin end of the wedge, re censorship either. Porn is a pretty distinct category, and there is always the option for the the in-charge member of the household to disable it. This is a storm in a tea-cup. Indeed the biggest problem I see is that the person who likes to think (he) is in charge, may not be. So those who will feel this measure strongest, will be the men who's wives says "this is a good ideas isn't it dear, let's leave the filter on."

      "Absolutely" comes the reply from the man shaking his head.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        > So those who will feel this measure strongest, will be the men who's wives says "this is a good ideas isn't it dear, let's leave the filter on."

        or the women who don't want to own up to their husband that they sometimes surf porn while he's out during the day. Remember the days when corner shops used to do video rentals. Amazing how many videos from the plain cardboard box behind the counter used to be rented after dropping the kids at school and be returned just before pick up time.

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

    The question is who are you trying to protect?

    In a free society of adults it should be opt in not opt out.

    I'll remain a great deal more concerned about what nosy b**tard is looking at my metadata than if someone is looking at pron on my line.

    1. Thecowking

      Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

      Britons, surely?

      That aside I agree with your argument, opt in is the only sensible route.

    2. Piro Silver badge

      Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

      I completely agree.

      We're a nation of adults who can opt in to things if we want. Freedom should be the default.

      Freedom is no longer the default, and that is not just a slippery slope, it's a lube-greased flume.

      1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

        And then no doubt next it will be blocking anything that could be branded as "terrorism" or supporting suchlike, with the usual nebulous and flexible definition of exactly what and who the govt of the time doesn't like (or is told not to like) that should be included.

        It's almost a shame we don't have something more up to date than the Magna Carta as a parallel to the American Declaration of Indepdendence to use as a cornerstone and rallying point towards freedoms of speech and the like.

        Having said that if it's done by screwing around with DNS, presumably underground (or not so underground, or possibly just overseas) alternate DNS servers may spring up offering a work-around for those who may want it, for legitimate reasons or otherwise.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Doesn't seem to be helping....

          "It's almost a shame we don't have something more up to date than the Magna Carta as a parallel to the American Declaration of Indepdendence to use as a cornerstone and rallying point towards freedoms of speech and the like."

          Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to be helping US much....

      2. Tom 38

        Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

        a lube-greased flume

        Exactly the stuff that I'm going to need to register for now.

        Except that I'm not going to. Fuck them. I'm sticking all my internet traffic through a fat pipe to a dodgy ISP in Amsterdam.

    3. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Cameron's looking pretty stupid on this one. But he wants all Britains to feel like this->

      "The question is who are you trying to protect?"

      Obviously, they are trying to protect themselves. Once filtering becomes ubiquitous it will make it much easier to control "leaks", whistleblowers and just journalists with pictures of politicians in compromising positions, or so they think, anyway...

  3. Norman Hartnell

    "The leaked letter also contained some other interesting tidbits,"

    In the UK, the word is, appropriately, "titbits".

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Not any more - unless you want the reg on the banned list

    2. Squander Two

      No, the word is spelt "tidbits" but is pronounced "titbits". Ah, English.

  4. Annihilator Silver badge


    Strikes me as odd that the champion of market-driven solutions and vehement critics of the nanny state are supporting this.

    If there's such a market for a "clean" ISP, logic would dictate that the market would have created one by now.

    1. Real Ale is Best


      I think this will be opening the ISPs to a large number of lawsuits:

      "Argh! My kiddies have seen porn on your filtered Internet! Your advert said it would be on by default!!"

      "But we only wrote that because the government told us to, and we told them it wouldn't work anyway..."

      "I don't care! You said it would be safe, and it isn't!!!"

      1. Professor Clifton Shallot

        Re: Real Ale is Best

        "I don't care! You said it would be safe, and it isn't!!!"

        Right, better a warning of possible danger than a false claim to safety.

        Also agree with your views on beer.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Anti-nanny?

      >If there's such a market for a "clean" ISP, logic would dictate that the market would have created one by now

      There is .... but very few UK domestic users are likely to pay the premium for the (human) work involved in maintaining and managing whitelists.

      The government should centralise filtering, blame and effort for child protection - it's already paying out millions in tax payer cash each year for exactly this kind of service from the educational ISPs.

  5. Rol

    "Mum, who's this woman staring out of the computer screen"

    "Oh, that's Big Nanny"


    "Well marketing didn't think Big Brother would be acceptable"

  6. mark l 2 Silver badge

    If the filtering is based in DNS lookups how will it work if you just change your DNS server to use alternatively DNS such as Google DNS server or open DNS, what about existing customers are they suddenly going to all get filtered by default or is for new customers only?

    I worked out in schools for a few years and the kids know about using proxys to access facebook etc when its blocked on the schools internet so you constantly playing wack a mole to block the proxy sites as soon as they are found. so if it easy to get around with just changing the DNS or using proxys then thats something that kids will easily work out how to do and once one kid does it it will soon get spread around all the other kids in no time. Then the parents will be blaming the ISPs that the kids can get around the filtering rather than learning to actually supervise their kids.

    1. Tom Wood


    2. MrXavia

      Yup, and unlike schools where you can usually track what is going on, at home, parents will not know to do that...

      This is a waste of time & money!

    3. Annihilator Silver badge

      It's not DNS lookups (primarily for that reason), it'll be similar to Cleanfeed - essentially a selective proxy based on IP blacklists that then kicks in with some DPI shenanigans. Same way TPB was blocked.

      But yeah, proxies will work just fine.

      1. wowfood

        Bah, but I don't want to have to watch my porn through a proxy. Half of the proxies are either stupidly slow, or they charge extra to stream video.

        Any other easy way to get past the idiocy once implemented?

        And I agree with the masses on this, every other service is opt in, legally you have to opt in to getting spam, you have to opt in to giving away your organs. So why do you have to opt out of filtering?

        And lets face it, it's targetting the masses, when it's only aimed at a certain market. "Stop your children seeing smut" 23.6 million households in the uk. And only 12 million families with or without children (taken from 2011) so they're blocking content for the majority when it's targetting the minority.

        If anyone finds a "Don't autoban our porn" petition let me know about it.

        1. Annihilator Silver badge

          "Any other easy way to get past the idiocy once implemented?"

          Yes, you phone your ISP and say loudly and proudly "I'm a grown-up - switch my Internet back on to include porn and kindly eff off out of my browsing habits"

          Or switch to a provider that just won't implement it. AAISP springs to mind.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @mark I 2 : they intercept and proxy responses. I've been seeing some examples of this on Sky recently, none of which persist more than a couple of days (Sky testing?) but I know for sure on one domain Sky were proxying a response which said the zone did not exist. It did & does, had nothing to do with IWF or any court order as BT Broadband worked fine.

      tl;dr its not rocket science....

    5. h3

      Even on so called filtered mobile internet you can use opera mini or I suppose opera normal with turbo set up like mini or ucweb. Slightly less featured but it works.

  7. David Hicks

    "nobbles DNS lookups"

    So... is it actually going to detect these and discard them, or is it just going to return NXDOMAIN when someone looks up something naughty on the BSkyB DNS server?

    Because that latter is circumvented with a quick change of DNS setting to

    I also forsee a lot of teenagers getting this "tor" business figured out pretty quickly.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"

      Step #1: Download Tor

      Step #2: Extract to folder

      Step #3: Run tor exe

      Step #4: Search for [*removed by No 10*]

      Step #5: GG

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

        Step #1: Log in to router

        Step #2: Change router DNS servers from default DHCP assigned ones

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

          You have to remember that this is stuff drawn up by politicians for application to adults. Hence whilst it may bamboozle Joe and Jane Public, their kids will of course just side-step it as kids always do in new and imaginative ways.

          It sounds more like the internet equivalent of child-proof medicine bottle lids. You know, the ones that only kids are dexterous enough to open...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

          Can't do that with the Sky Routers as they are locked down unfortunately

        3. Blacklight

          Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

          Not quite. All the ISP has to do is intercept and re-route all port 53 traffic, then regardless of which DNS IP you *think* you're talking to, you're not.

          I do this at home, to ensure anything on my LAN *cannot* bypass my OpenDNS settings.

          If you want to get around it, go investigate "DNSCrypt", as that encrypts your DNS and allows you to point to an upstream server which isn't on port 53.....

          (and moving on beyond DNS resolution, any IP which is blacklisted will still be blacklisted, so regardless of how you lookup/get the IP resolved, a filtered site is still a filtered site. Unless you start using a VPN...)

          1. David Hicks

            Re: "nobbles DNS lookups" - correction

            >> All the ISP has to do is intercept and re-route all port 53 traffic, then regardless of which DNS IP you *think* you're talking to, you're not.

            Well, DNSSec works around this, and is already usable with Google's public DNS, so you should be able to tell if you're getting doctored results.

            >> I do this at home, to ensure anything on my LAN *cannot* bypass my OpenDNS settings.

            Unless they have a tor client, which to be fair is something that mimics VPN, and gets around any/all IP blacklists etc. I only really mentioned DNS in particular because if that's all that Sky are messing with then that's pretty damn easy to work around.

          2. Dr Dan Holdsworth

            MI5 howls of outrage

            At this point, I can almost hear the howls of outrage from MI5. Effectively, what the Government are doing is teaching the entire intelligent population of the country how to communicate with the outside world in ways which are impossible to sniff. Doing this throws a gigantic spanner in the works for tricks like metadata sniffing, especially if someone with serious marketing power starts up a combined VPN and email service based in Switzerland.

            At that point the spooks might as well give up and go take up chicken farming, since very little metadata are going to be leaked from such a set-up; this also does a neat end-run around any local filtering system. Block it, and big business will scream blue murder. Leave it, and politicians look like complete numpties (not for the first time, either).

            Cameron's best option right now is to try to force some sort of ISP-subsidised router-level filtering and leave it at that, retreating gracefully whilst trumpeting loudly about having solved the problem without treading on precious civil liberties. It ain't a perfect solution, indeed doing so is pretty much admitting defeat, but it works better than any other course of action.

            1. Steven Roper

              @Dr Dan Holdsworth

              "Block it, and big business will scream blue murder."

              For now. As more and more people start using VPNs to hide their copyright-infringing and porn-surfing activities, they will come under greater scrutiny. We've already seen the start of this with Visa and Mastercard refusing to process payments to some VPN providers.

              Ultimately what I can see ending up happening is that you'll eventually need some kind of "business licence" to use a VPN, and if you're detected using one without a licence (e.g. by sniffing your traffic and finding it encrypted to a specific domain all the time) you'll cop a hefty fine.

              Of course, getting a VPN licence will cost a small fortune and you'll have to "reasonably prove that you require the use of a VPN in the normal course of business" or some legalese wank like that. This way, "big business" can still make use of VPNs as they need but the proles will be locked out of them and left exposed for Big Brother to spy on.

              I predict the Western Nanny States (USA / UK / Aus / NZ / Canada) will introduce something like this within the next 5 years, as a greater proportion of the public cotton on to VPNs. And the endless march of the erosion of human liberties will continue...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"

        "Step #1: Download Tor"

        Your attempt to download this EEEEEVIIIIILLL TERRRORRRRRIST<FNORD> program has been blocked. Your access to BigBrotherNet has been terminated. Please gather up your things and report to your front door for apprehension and reeducation.

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"

        "Step #4: Search for [*removed by No 10*]"

        Of course, a quick Freedom of Information request will deliver the actual list of banned sites, maintained at tax-payers expense for the convenience of teenagers too lazy to search for their own porn.

    2. Steven Raith

      Re: "nobbles DNS lookups"


      It's like putting a chocolate padlock on a two foot high fence. to stop the kids getting out of the garden.

      Getting past it is such an offensively simple task that it's just not worth wasting time on - might as well just leave it open and stop inconveniencing people.

      If they don't want people getting out of their garden, parents (or ISPs selling a soltution) will have to do it properly - install a five foot high fence with steel padlocks (or locked down routers, dropping any DNS requests that aren't their own, etc) for those who *want* it.

      Anything else is an utter waste of time.

      Steven R

  8. Christoph

    a "collective financial commitment" to fund an "awareness campaign"

    We will make you pay for our propaganda

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is such a bad idea. Not only will it not stop the kids, who generally will be told how to use google dns by all there friends, but it'll make going to blocked sites even more attractive.

    Yea, that's how kids work.

    1. Don Jefe

      Not About Kids

      This isn't about the children, things like this never are. This is insurance for the politicians: 'See here peasants, my policies have engaged [company x] in protecting [popular thing]. [Politician x] didn't do anything. If you care about [thing] then you will recognize I am the only logical choice to lead us into the future.'

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The battle between the government and telcos ..."

    What's really disturbing about this bollocks is the whole tone of the letter, which implies that the PM seriously believes he just has to express a wish and the ISPs will give it serious attention (to a given timescale, no less).

    That means either that the PM is delusional, or the battle between government and telcos has already been lost by the telcos, and they are merely trying to save face by feebly protesting what they know they are going to roll over for at some point.

    1. Simon Westerby 1

      Re: "The battle between the government and telcos ..."

      "That means either that the PM is delusional ..."

      Well he is an MP after all...

    2. Colin Millar

      Re: "The battle between the government and telcos ..."

      Give him a break - he probably doesn't give a shit about filters and intertube crap - it just that he thought that this prime ministering gig would involve him getting his own way on something, sometime and 5 years in he's getting a bit frustrated and putting his foor down on anything that moves. Maybe George will let him pick a the next three legged dog that they are going to bet everything on.

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. HamsterNet

    DNS look up

    Now you know why the routers the ISP provide no longer allow you to change the DNS settings. - Simple enough to use a different router and set the DNS to Google or anybody else you fancy.

    1. Irongut Silver badge

      Re: DNS look up

      Or set DNS at PC level. Probably a better idea for teens anyway since parents' PCs will still apparently show that there is no porn available on their line.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        Re: DNS look up @Irongut

        They can knobble this as well. All they have to do is block TCP and UDP to port 53 on any systems other than their DNS servers in either the router they supply to you, or within their infrastructure.

        Would be hugely unpopular with most of the readers of this site, but would make no difference to the majority of their customers.

        1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: DNS look up @Irongut

          > All they have to do is block TCP and UDP to port 53 o

          and in no time at all a bunch of dodgy DNS servers will appear using a port other than 53, which will appear to solve the problem but in fact will direct the juicier porn site names to virus-laden scam sites.

          This is just DRM all over again, it won't stop the people who know what they're doing, and will just make life unnecessarily difficult for ordinary users.

    2. Tim Jenkins

      Re: DNS look up

      Yup - last couple of generations of BT Homehub haven't had DNS as a user-available option, even under 'Advanced' settings, for at least 2 years:

      "With regard to the way we work with DNS, for security reasons the Home Hub will not allow its DNS gateway address to be changed" - BTCare Community Mod (dated June 2011)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1. Download Opera Browser

    2. Enable Turbo Mode

    3. Bypass Blocks

    4. ????

    5. PROFIT!!

  14. Anigel

    Filtering because one of the first lessons kids learn at school is how to get around filtering to get at fakebook and other sites they are not supposed to be using from school.

  15. DrStrangeLug

    Is it a national blocklist ?

    Whats on the list - do we get to see what we're opting in/out of?

    What if my commercial site is wrongly put on the list, how does my company appeal this ?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Is it a national blocklist ?

      The "Internet Watch Foundation" produce the list, they are a charity so they are independant of government (snigger) but also don't have any official oversight - they ban what they want and you have no appeal.

      you also have no idea who their backers are, who is funding them or what their political/economic/religious motives are - but you can't possibly have a problem with this because they are protecting the children

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is it a national blocklist ?

        Really? the IWF?

        I thought they were adamant they would not produce this list, they only produce the list for kiddie porn last I checked....

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Is it a national blocklist ?

          I'm sure the government will leave it open for the ISP's to choose a list and they will choose the list that they are already using "to protect the children".

          It doesn't cost them anything, everyone else is doing it and if you object you are obviously a peado

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Violent Sites Included

    If this is blocking violent sites then I am all in favour, no more problems with facebook having beheading videos as facebook will be blocked for showing violence, and Youtube will be blocked for showing body part carnage on Russian roads..........

    What do you mean it doesn't work like that, oh it's only the sites that Dave and the Daily Mail don't like, well I never.

    1. Werner McGoole

      Re: Violent Sites Included

      Hmm, well the protect-the-kiddies content filter that came on my wife's phone (and was on by default) also blocked alcohol-related sites. So her first attempt when on holiday to locate a good pub for a meal was singularly unsuccessful.

      Never mind, I'm sure the government don't have a thing about alcohol.

      Oh, hang on...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As long as they don't block sCUNThorpe

    *oops caps lock, my bad

  18. frank ly

    .. and telcos are furious with 'misleading' words

    Up to 10MB/s unlimited internet

  19. Ian 62


    Dear ISP,

    cc Government of the Day.

    I 'the upvoter below' do not want.

    If you should implement such a system I will take my business else where.

    If all of you should implement such a system I will encrypt my traffic via an offshore thirdparty.

    That'll screw you over either way, wont it now? Either no business, or no ability to traffic shape the protocols you dont like.

    1. Shrimpling

      Re: If you should implement such a system I will take my business else where.

      So you are leaving the country?

      Personally I will just ring BT and ask them "Can you make porn come on my computer please?"

      1. Jediben

        Re: If you should implement such a system I will take my business else where.

        Best Alan Partidge episode ever!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: If you should implement such a system I will take my business else where.

        Phrasing. You don't want BT to send a guy round your house to jizz on your keyboard now do you?

  20. Tom 35


    parents in control of what content is permitted in their households.

    So the block list will be publicly available, and will have a simple open system to remove any stupid blocks right?

  21. alain williams Silver badge

    Who makes the list ?

    Ie what should be on it ? Will the list grow to contain things that are, by some, deemed ''bad'' ?

    I assume that it will contain sex sites, but what about other things that can damage young minds, eg: violence, astrology, suicide, anorexic encouraging, religion ??

    I could add: BNP, taliban & facebook since some would regard those as damaging ?

    Daily Mail readers will never agree with Guardian readers, so best to leave it down to the individual household and what they see as right for their kids -- ie their prejudices.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who makes the list ?

      Screw the porn, block pop music. I have a choice over whether I watch porn or not and I'm actively aware it's pornographic. I don't want to walk down the street however and hear every radio blurting out profane rubbish about how a girl wants to be touched in her special place and used like a piece of meat.

      Moreso, I actually hate (and this part isn't being sarcastic) when you walk down the street and there's a little girl like, 5-6 years old singing their favourite song about how they want to get fucked. (back to sarcasm) Before going after the stuff that can be ignored conciously we need to ban the smut on the radio.

      (slightly sarcastic again) and how about banning newspapers. I'm tired of buying the daily fail or the sun and finding nipples everywhere. And these aren't even out of reach of children. I demand that all newspapers stop posting nip slips and camera clunge this instant, it's abhorent and it is warping the young children who read them (going by the quality of writing in the sun, I assume it's aimed at 10 year olds)

  22. smudge

    What is this "default-on"?

    Easy for us in IT, but I would wager that a sizeable percentage of the population would not understand what "default" means.

    "Do we need this fault thing on or off?"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What is this "default-on"?

      yes, I used that phrase with my parents and they had no idea what it meant!

      1. Mystic Megabyte

        Re: What is this "default-on"?

        In the context of filtering, "default-on"="fuck-off".

  23. Rikkeh

    the Headlines/court cases of tomorrow

    If it's anything like O2's current mobile network blocker, it'll restrict a lot of sites without a trace of p0rn on them as well. Even a nun (was going to say priest, but bad example) would need to ask for the block to be taken down for the full browsing experience.

    Of course, once the filters are in place you'll have tabloid headlines of "TV personality/school teacher gets dirty internet [sic]", taken from the inevitable leaked lists.

    Far more worryingly, there's a very good chance that prosecutors would seek to have how a defendant's internet filter is set up put entered as evidence and an even greater one that the police would see an opt-out as grounds for suspicion. "He's gets teh p0rn, he must be a bad 'un!"

    And all because our politicians are too gutless to tell Joe Public and the Daily Fail that, if someone's too stupid to be able to tick a box and opt in to the blocking if they want it, then they probably can't be trusted with the magic box powered by sparks that gives them the internet in the first place.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: the Headlines/court cases of tomorrow

      I doubt the law would be very interested. They can easily get a complete list of everything you've ever looked at so this filter setting won't make much difference.

  24. WonkoTheSane

    Counting the days...

    Until we can tell Cameron to "Default Off".

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A lot of people (mainly Mumsnet, the Daily Mail crowd, etc.) seem to forget that their six-year-old or whatever will eventually grow up. (CHILDREN DO THAT!?)

    I wonder how fucked up they'll end up being unable to look at porn when they're 16 or whatever, and how many of them will end up becoming rapists, murderers or sex offenders.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They'll just buy the sun for page 3. It's good enough when you're a teen.

  26. Scarborough Dave

    bit pointless anyway

    This would mean that say most of the results from a "big boobies" image search on Google would be filtered.

    But what about Facebook and Twitter, for example would the EvilPostman (NSFW!) on twitter be filtered, or some of the Facebook groups which can also be very raw.

    We are probably better teaching the kids to filter themselves and keep safe.

  27. John G Imrie

    Cameron can't tell the difference

    Between the internet and the web.

    I can't remember the last time I went to a web site to expand my collection of porn.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'd love to see the system they can implement that would survive five minutes in front of a 15 year old wanting grumble flicks or facebook or whatever it is you try and block.

    Be the easiest QA/testing job in the universe.

    Plonk a 15 year old male in front of it and say "bet you can't find any porn" and see how long it takes.

    *five years into the project*

    V124.2 - Failed (10 minutes)

    Please submit V125.0 by the end of the month. Thanks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      When I were a lad.

      The best non-technical method to get grot past the schools proxy server was to reach for a French dictionary.

      They're probably a bit cleverer now, mind.

      1. Joel 1

        Re: When I were a lad.

        If your school had a proxy server when you "were a lad", then you clearly still are!

        Eee, youngsters today, thinking that schools had access to t'web. I remember the joys of ascii porn being passed around on fanfold paper round back of t'bikesheds.

        You were lucky! We had to get our porn on punchcards, line them up and then project light through them onto t' darkened walls of coal celler where we 'ad our lessons...

        1. wowfood

          Re: When I were a lad.

          We just turned on google images.

          What's that? The google cached images aren't filtered? Oh dear.

          Or the just as comical.

          This site has been blocked

          LOL BOOBIES!

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simplified reassurance

    The only reassurance I need from Tory nanny is that they'll collectively be departing on the soon-to-be-built Golgafrincham B Ark along with the staff of the Mail, its readers and frankly a good sixty percent of the rest of the population, particularly those who think "family friendly" should be obligaTory for the happily childless too.

    I had thought that the scariest bit of political debate I ever witnessed was three local councillors waiting at a childrens home one wet Sunday afternoon for a grip 'n' grin with Ronald McDonald. To fill the time, they discussed - seriously (no, really) - whether there was only one extremely busy "Ronald McDonald" constantly criss crossing the Atlantic, or a number of actors attending events while the genuine Ronald McDonald remained at HQ.

    The Westminster crowd are quite their equal in cluelessness, but much, much more dangerous.

  30. PassiveSmoking

    Fairly obvious what the plan is.

    1) Force the ISPs to say their filters are "always on"

    2) Wait for complaints from little Timmy's mum when she catches him looking at MILFS Gone Wild

    3) Sic the ASA on them

    4) Internet censorship by the back door

    5) ???

    6) PROFIT!

    1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

      Internet censorship by the back door

      I expect them to block THAT, too...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Is their web tracking tool that follows you round the web still a complete and utter pile of shite?

    Thumb Down

    Why is regulation a bad thing?

    Versus the alternative; unaccountable ISPs imposing opaque censorship restrictions on wholly lawful communications.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Why is regulation a bad thing?

      Because there won't be an official regulated government list created by sane (or at least accountable ) people - that would be Big Brother.

      There will be an order to "use a list" but the ISPs are free to pick any "unaccountable opaque censorship restriction" list they choose.

  33. nevstah

    if its on by default..

    then they are at liberty to change and update the terms of the filtering without asking, because you have already agreed to it. a bit like when your bank changes its terms and conditions

    what about folks without children? surely they dont need parental controls? surely its instulting to be assumed to be a parent? what about folks who *can't* have kids?

    that said, they can and will filter whatever they choose. they don't have to tell us - the reason they do, is to win political brownie points

    theres a lot they don't tell us though, because its 'in the nations best interest' not to. internet censoring is no different.

    you can't miss what you don't know about afterall!

  34. Gith


    This isn't really any great shakes. Many mobile providers filter adult content by default unless you choose to opt-out. Some have done so for years. The world didn't end then either ;-)

  35. cotsweb

    Top 4 ISPs only

    A quick search tells me my ISP is only number 8 in the list.

    Perhaps this will be a self-selecting measure if only those who use BT, Virgin, Sky and Talk-Talk will be affected. If you care enough about it you will change to a smaller (and almost certainly better) ISP.

    The majority will be "protected" and the rest of us can carry on taking responsibilty for our own lives (and those of our children).

    1. Tom 38

      Re: Top 4 ISPs only

      Did you not notice BT, Virgin, Sky and Talk Talk bought all the decent ISPs already? Yeah, it's fine, I'll go with PlusNet - no, its really BT? ok, BlueYonder - oh they gone too? - BeThere - gah, fuck Sky. Ok, I've been saving this choice for real disasters - Pipex. Wait, TalkTalk did what to Pipex??

      1. cotsweb

        Re: Top 4 ISPs only

        Yes; I used to be with Nildram before they got swallowed by Pipex and then as you say...

        Pipex. Wait, TalkTalk did what to Pipex??

        I have been very happy with Zen for several years now and they still look strong, my main worry is that the politicians may eventually see past the top 4.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Statistics make this seem even worse!

    I'm already against this. Just by gut feel and instinct I'm against this.

    But I've just had a look at the statistics. The 'top 4 uk ISPs' account for something like 19mil subscribers.

    The census said there were something like 22mil households.

    Assuming a household has one subscriber.

    Assuming 'most' households have some sort of ISP provided connection.

    By brow beating just those 4 ISPs into applying the Government flavourite filter, they can block whatever content they dont like from at least 86% of the population.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    ( o Y o )

  38. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Jobs bonanza!

    To filter a URI request that request has to be categoried somehow. Ok, where are the job adverts for thousands upon thousands of people to check the content of billions upon billions of URIs to categorise them?

    1. Cucumber C Face

      Re: Jobs bonanza!

      >the job adverts for thousands upon thousands of people to check the content of billions upon billions of URIs to categorise them<

      Nah... cheaper to issue a whitelist : Job's done.

    2. Tridac

      Re: Jobs bonanza!

      There have been open source no charge url filter lists around for firewalls like ipcop for years and being open source, don't have the dead hand of nanny state. The entries for each list are individually enabled / disabled, so you have all the fine grained choice in terms of what content comes into your home.

      Some of the content on the internet has no place in any home with children, unless you are really sick. Imho, of course and your mileage may vary :-)...


  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. bag o' spanners

    Know your target

    ISPs don't have a vote(unless dodgy political contributions count), but lazy, ignorant, and gullible parents do.

    Once again, gubmint airheads expect third parties to do the parents job of educating their offspring in the ways of the world, while simultaneously screwing everyone who doesn't have any progeny. Cameron being a prime example of a gormless clot who refuses to take responsibility for any of the failed policies his lobbyist cronies dream up.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Official! Cameron + fiends = Shit for Brains

    I have an idea. Why don't Cameron and fiends install a shit filter in their brains/mouths*.

    Maybe Nick Clegg could take his head out of Cameron's arse, smell the fresh air and at least try to debate this. But no. Never going to happen.

    Autocracy... It's alive and well and living in Cameron's dreams.

    *Let's not forget, our illustrious leader didn't even know the simple difference between "debt" and "deficit" (and this shower are running the country? Ouch!)

    1. David Black

      Re: Official! Cameron + fiends = Shit for Brains

      Democracy can only work if you have a diversity of opinion. Much as I loathe Cameron and all he stands for, where's my choice? Can you think of any credible politician who would stand against this?

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Official! Cameron + fiends = Shit for Brains

        Nope. However, I can think of about 649 who should :)

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    active-choice: Cameron out of office.

    We designed a filter system for a new ISP, parents could control everything, inc who there children could contact with email/IM and in our 3D worlds. We had a whole department generating content and games and were getting ready for launch. The money men did some more market research and the day before I signed the contracts for the ADSL pipes the project was canned and everyone given P45s. There was no market for it, it's all special interest groups & politics, same now and it was then.

    If this gets pushed on to people there will be a market for smaller "default off" providers, who will be, as usual, providing a better service for their clients too..

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As a parent

    I'm far more concerned with the graphical level of news coverage.

    My nine year old daughter asked me about Jimmy Saville and what is a paedo. I'm afraid to put the radio on in the car when on a family outing because of the news bulletins.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: As a parent

      That is a real problem in all Western news media. The 'news' gets away with some pretty terrible stuff because it is 'news' (by their definition anyway) and any moves to control it is interference by the government. It is a fine line to walk for sure.

      Here in the U.S. I listened to 'experts' describe, in detail, how to make a bomb out of a pressure cooker. What had once been niche knowledge was being publicly disseminated from multiple sources just so 'people could understand how dangerous common household items can be'. Over here it used to be that inherent morals and ethics prevented some things from being broadcast but that system was taken advantage of by a greedy few. The worst part is that there was almost no public outcry, they were making money and creating jobs you know.

  44. Maty

    this isn't about protecting kids

    It's about getting control of the net.

    Of course the current idea won't work. But now we've accepted that our web usage should be 'filtered' (read 'censored'), the govt can 'tweak' the system till it has Chinese-style control.

    Legislation has been steadily working in that direction for years.

  45. Wanda Lust

    Sick, sick, sick & tired of this imbecile Cameron

    Every week there's some populist, lame and inconsequential idea or policy spun out and fed to the sheeple. Everything's just a distraction from the main issue which is that these pillocks are shafting the greater proportion of the citizens they claim to govern.

    This is going to be a waste of time, it's totally legit for Mr & Mrs Smith of 3 Acacia Avenue to surf on over to "" & so they will do switching off the controls thus leaving little Jimmy & Jessica exposed! What about gambling, what about protecting the little ones from the mountain of advertising ridden kids sites, the ........

    Argggh I'm just exasperated .....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sick, sick, sick & tired of this imbecile Cameron

      You mean Jackie Smith right? Labour want this as much as the tories,

    2. Tridac

      Re: Sick, sick, sick & tired of this imbecile Cameron

      Like Cameron makes all the poilicies ?.

      Definately the stench of rancid po faced lefties still embittered about losing the last election. Well sorry, but they deserved to lose....

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bl**dy New Labour - enough of this nanny state bs. I can't wait until the election to get ride of this shower. Oh wait ....

  47. Michael Habel Silver badge

    How will this work? On BT & BSkyB or Virgin Media Routers ONLY?! Or must every Manufacturer now bow to this? I for One can not see how the ISP is to filter anything mildly upsetting to anyone. Without it being labeled as blatant censorship on the other side. I certainly do not see how this would work over the Web though.

  48. Robin Bradshaw


    Its not perfect but you can bypass alot of the filtering on uk mobile phone networks by using https instead of http to get your smut, im sure this new filtering isnt going to be much better.

  49. Herby

    Block everything?

    If they want to block content that is "objectionable", then they should block ALL content. That way there can be no decision made. Then have the dialog box state:

    This content is blocked, to unblock tick this box

    Of course then ALL content gets passed, but ISPs can claim that the user asked for the content!

    (Un)Fortunately this is the only proper blocking scheme!

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More Choice

    Why, why, why?

    The internet here in the uk is already rubbished enough as every site asks you if you want a cookie with that webpage you just click on.

    Remember when "Homosexual" won the Olympics....due to the software changing it from Gay?

    If you have kids it should be YOU looking after them......YOU put the boundaries in place....You take steps to make sure they are not over stepped!

    Same as is there legal to all is YOU who must instil some kind of order within your family not me or big gov.

    If the internet is as evil as you money, play with the kids and do not pay the monthly bill for it.

    Rant over :-)

  51. Mark 110

    Calm down

    I don't see the problem - they aren't saying that you can't optout.

    Just got a new sim card. Parental control was on by default. I phoned them and its now off. If they remove the right to turn it off then yes I will scream but this seems a good thing to me. There is some awful nasty stuff out there and if I had kids then I would prefer they get well into their teens before they run into it.

    I would filter it myself true, but not everyone is a techie.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Calm down

      >I don't see the problem - they aren't saying that you can't optout.

      One step at a time, one step at a time....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Calm down

      Coz then you go on the perv list at the ISP, which then gets stolen and given to a red top news paper, who then cherry pick enough to get "FILTHY PERV TEACHER OPTS IN FOR PORN!" "Are your children being taught by a pron watching perv? Check this list!" "Is your neighbor a potential rapist? Check this list!"

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So we have gone from blocking paedophile content, to blocking pirate software, to blocking porn.

    What next? blocking political comments the government dont like??

    1. Ted Treen
      Big Brother

      Welcome to the Brave New World...

      "...What next? blocking political comments the government dont like??..."

      Sole purpose of exercise, old lad.

      Disguised as them having some concern for us election-fodder. As if...

      Preposterous idea...

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in x years time...

    1. the filtering will have had no noticeable effect (although, as always, "involved" parties will be making claims to the contrary, based on some random figures in carefully

    2. the system WILL stay "on", regardless (as the restrictions are ALWAYS one-way traffic).

    3. meanwhile, a usb pen drive left on the train by a public servant / senior police officer / unknown party will be found to contain a list of of all the people, including their personal details, addresses, etc. who happen to have actively told their ISPs to turn the filter OFF. This will be front-page news. Briefly.

    4. the number of RIPA requests will be dramatically higher against those individuals, who happen to have chosen to have the default OFF, than against the other, "law-abiding" citizens. And if not RIPA, then other methods will be applied to keep an eye on the pedo-terrorists. If nothing concrete, at least their details will be cross-linked to their travel details, buying habits, and other records, to produce a more in-depth psychological profile. But this won't be news, even briefly, because those RIPA requests are not subject to FOI requests, are they? Unless some junior UK government contractor, uncomfortable with the gap between "protecting the homeland" and day-to-day reality of his job, will claim political asylum in Scotland, having released those figures.

    5. etc.

  54. Ted Treen


    "...Tory leader David Cameron..."

    He's not a Tory


    he's no leader...

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not DNS

    It's either a layer 7 port mirror (more configurable) or a passive tap (less failure prone) to load balancers that deliver your connection requests to one of a number of detection systems.

    They parse the URLs, do look ups in a table. If the URL is banned, the system issues a TCP reset to the target server so you never get the data returned to your browser. It can do the same to the client or send back a naughty boy warning page.

    This method reduces the load on the system by many factors as you are not proxying any traffic, the request go on to the destination as normal and return valid data if you're not browsing content the Govt don't like. It also has the extra benefit that if something fails, a bit of porn gets through, but the non porn viewers still access the Internet too, so you don't get support calls about the Internet being broken.

    Added value, you collect all the meta data the Govt spooks want and the spooks systems can target the actual data content of the "thousands" of terrorists and "bad people" out there flagged by the filter. Additionally, you can use another list to track visits to other URLs or parse key words like "Home made burm" and send alerts to the boys in blue, who can then come a knocking. Having this in place makes MITM stuff trivial at a later date and a tap in place permanently makes normal intercept cheaper too.

    The latter is probably why the Govt are suddenly interested in this, the ISPs will be funding the general snooping of citizens allowing them to concentrate on the more intrusive stuff and state that they have stopped the generalised Govt data harvest.

    Yes, I have done this myself in the past on a purely opt-in and pay for it basis. My next project is a non state SSL VPN DSL private no configuration consumer service, might be quite popular.

    1. Tim Jenkins

      Re: It's not DNS

      Does "Home made burm" trigger the filter for terrorism, or pr0n?

  56. John Savard

    Politicians are right this time

    A term like "Active Choice +", unlike "on by default", doesn't warn people hard enough that their Internet connection will be tampered with unless they pay attention and make sure to do what is necessary to turn the filtering off.

    1. paulc

      Re: Politicians are right this time

      The filter will STILL be there even if it's supposedly turned off, they'll still be blocking sites they don't want you to see. It's just that you will be able to browse porn though.

  57. Tumpin

    It wont be long before everyone uses a VPN service as default. Firstly for security and secondly to gain access to the whole web not just the BBC version.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So kids can watch as many beheading videos and videos of people dying. But how dare they watch some filth.

  59. Frankee Llonnygog

    Faith based policy

    Cameron 'believes' filters will work.

    Duncan-Smith 'believes' his welfare policies work.

    I believe a huge Martian death ray will zap down from space and leave no trace of them save for wisps of smoke wafting up from their hand-lasted brogues.

    I have no evidence for this, but I strongly believe it.

  60. Winkypop Silver badge

    The kids are way ahead of these numpties

    So it's a clear fail then.

  61. demented

    Web blocking not far from the next election, co incidence or not ?

    As the title says , i think such blocking by default is definitely the start of a slippery path in a downward direction for the so called Democratic society that we are alleged to live in,

    Such things as web blocking are not democratic, they are a form of dictatorship ,If or one do not have any children living at home, so no need for any filtering , Another question is this who will end up paying for this unnecessary web blocking it won't be ScammerCON will it?

    They have recently (government. and the likes of the BPI ect ) been colluding with VISA and Mastercard to no longer process payments for VPN services that they are told are used to violate copyright ect, so the likes of Ipredator VPN now have to use other methods , its a bit like the paypal thing, of them no longer processing payments to cyber lockers

    shows how corrupt they all are

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have to disagree. Though I don't agree with censorship of any kind, I really don;'t want some of the internet rubbish available to my kids and in fact I really don't want that kind of stuff anywhere in the house. I've run h/w url filtering firewalls on the home internet feed for around 10 years, until the kids were old enough to make their own choices. Now they are, and there's no filtering at all. This is not only altruistiic either, since parents could get prosecuted because of dodgy content innocuously downloaded by their childred. It's a parents job to protect, at east until kids reach the age of reason...


  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look beyond the headlines.

    ISPs can only effectively do such blocking on the wire-level.

    Wire-level filter = Deep Packet Inspection.

    Deep Packet Inspection = Spying on your connection.

    "For the kids", "for the purity of our society" slogans being thrown around are just fronts to legalise DPI. Politicians has always been crafty and child protection groups are being used.

    Even tweaking DNS lookups consist of DPI. This is nothing but a repackaged Phorm.

    Though I'm sure GCHQ already had DPI in place, this now means more people get access to data to see what you're looking it.

    Nevermind freedom, your privacy is at risk as well to the point that it might just be possible for nosy pricks to blackmail you if you're a "respectable" gentleman on the "outside".

  64. MJI Silver badge

    Mail is definately scum

    They pushed for it

    Cameron is a twat

    Written by a centre right voter who could never vote Labour (TSR2)

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