Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hugo Swire proposes Ministry of Porn Surfing?

Why oh why do MPs keep insisting on coming up technically inept stupid ideas for making the Internet safe from porn and the like? The Tory MP Hugo Swire has apparently said that Internet Service Providers must provide two-tier services where the default is safe for children.

Guess what, that's not an Internet Service Provider, that is a Content Service Provider, a very different thing indeed. An ISP provides service to the Internet, that is the network. It is not a content provider OK?

The more ludicrous part of the idea is that the default tier would be controlled by a blacklist of sites that a Whitehall department would draw up. Is he mental? Is he aware of how many different types of porn sites exist on the Internet that would need to be blocked?

There are specialists sites for lactating lovers, ebony, ivory, shemale, gay, lesbian, transvestite, trangender, lingerie, big girls, small girls, big guys, little guys, sellotape, BDSM, Jesus the list is endless, just go and type a random sex related search into Google, hell it doesn't have to sex related. There are people out there that get off sexually on twiglets! Seriously.

Is Swire seriously suggesting that there is going to be a Whitehall Department for Porn Surfing, because that is what it will require to maintain a blacklist. I hereby dutifully request a job overseeing such a department... damn I typed that out loud didn't I?

Serious Hugo, have you ever heard of a whitelist? That's where you say you can go everywhere in the list but nowhere else. It's what many parental control software packages do already. It's what people like AOL have been doing for years. It's the industry's job not the Government.

This idea that there will be yet another superduper database (how big will it be is anybodies guess?) that will contain every dodgy site in the world and the Government will allow everyone to access it for referencing is.. well it's bloody stupid OK. It would fall over in seconds. It's yet another IT failure waiting to happen being proposed as ever by people that don't think about the practical realities of what they propose.

21 comments:

Rockfall said...

Newton's Fourth Law:

Politicians + The Internet = Fail.

Terry Tibbs said...

Ha ha you crack me up Dizzy!!!;-) Is there a sex site for sexually frustarted MP's with nothing better to do with their time?!! Controlling porn consumption is like controlling drug consumption - it ain't ever going to happen!!!

The Grumbler said...

It's a bit like when the government pledged to ban 'violent pornography' websites after that teacher was strangled during some S&M. The logistics just make it impossible, and none of them have any idea what they are talking about. Also, I'm not sure I like the idea of Civil Servants a) getting paid to look at porn, and b) saying what is acceptable and what isn't.

yokel said...

He just wants to do what Labour have done in Australia. There, it is intended that if you want to visit more than childsafe sites, you will have to formally request it. So when the Police come knocking on the ISP's door, they will have their instant list of potential perverts.

The Internet is an unsafe place for ordinary folk these days, not because of the criminals, but because of the forces of "law and order"!

Andy P said...

I think he meant that an ISP serving the UK would automatically do the parental control bit unless requested otherwise by the user. T-mobile do it on my mobile phone - I have to prove I am over 18 before being able to access certain sites. I listened to his speech and didn't find it so ridiculous becuase I thought that given the T-mobile example, it seemed easy enough to implement across the board.

And I can see why its a good idea. With one click of a mouse, a child could inadvertently be exposed to any of the types of porn (or worse) that you listed in your post and who wants that?

Porn is not available on TV at all times of the day to protect children. The safeguard in place is the watershed regulated by TV watchdogs. The same time based censorship cannot be applied to the web so it seems sensible to look for other solutions.

D'ya know what I mean, like?

dizzy said...

Err I think you'll find he clearly said he wants a Whitehall blacklist database that everyone would have access to to mange controls.

gman said...

Its quite easy to implement if the isps wanted. The maintainance of a blacklist (or for the truly oppressive, the operation of a whitelist) is crude and simple. The truly devoted will of course get around it, but for the majority of cases such a process would work.

I have seen content filtering software that works exceptionally well. Scalling it up to run from the isp servers would be a piece of cake.

I know my mobile phone company (t-mobile) already operate a two tier system, with mature content blocked by default.

dizzy said...

T-Mobile's system is just web based. There is more to the Internet than the web.

Andy P said...

See Dizzy - not such a big deal after all! Got any better ideas or just content analysing other peoples?

Alan said...

"Is there a sex site for sexually frustarted MP's with nothing better to do with their time?"

A quick search results in 5 hits.

1. "Uptight, sexually frustrated people start fights; uptight, sexually frustrated politicians start wars."
2. "Why then if these greedy sexually frustrated politicians are using Global Warming as a way to get to everyone's wallets"
3."When I think republican I think gay sexually frustrated politicians."
4. "I suspect it was because of certain sexually frustrated politicians who have a thing for sleeping with part time student-hookers."
5. "as the 1960s-70s idea that the Vietnam War was the result of sexually frustrated politicians--psychologizing is no substitute for a true critique"

So that will be a no then. And it seems to me to be the most realistic explanation for going to war with Iraq....

wonderfulforhisage said...

See what happens when you stir the porkers up.

I'd rather they kept their noses firmly in the trough than start trotting around bossing the rest of us about. As if we didn't have enough on our plates paying the taxes that keep them in the manner to which they have become accustomed.

Mark my words, ere long, they'll all be queuing up to interfere with everything and nothing; thus proving they are worthy of their hire.

If we gave them all £500k pa each to bugger off it would only cost a third of a billion. What a bargain.

Damon Lord said...

Can you provide links to each of those kink examples please? For illustrative purposes for clarification only, honest...

dizzy said...

Err Andy P, it's not simple because the T-Mobile example is completely different. All T-Mobile do (in the UK at least), and Orange for that matter, is whitelisting... NOT blacklisting, you're in a walled garden basically, that;s not two tier.

However, as I pointed we're not just talking about the web here. There is other type of traffic on the Internet across a range of TCP ports. THe vast majoriy of people have routers today that are permanently connected to the Net. In order, therefore, to have a system that restricted content - across the board - not just web, you'd need more than a proxy server.

If you want a better idea here's one. The Government should butt out of trying to nationalise Internet access through legislation and start educating parents about the Internet. Even better, ask the industry to implement black/whitelisting features on home networking devices so that parents, not the state, decide what their kids can and cannot do online.

Anonymous said...

If the Government really want to do something useful, they should make available to ISPs a whitelist of child-safe sites.

It wouldn't be difficult to implement a system where the bill payer decides whether they want to use the whitelist all the time, by default but with the ability to override, or not at all. And then ISPs can tunnel traffic through a proxy to ensure that the correct policy is applied.

Alex said...

I don't always agree with Dizzy but I agree 10000% here. Yes, a child clicking on a porn site is undesirable but you don't need the government to spend millions of taxpayers money to try to purge the world of undesirable things. It costs the taxpayer nothing for parents to exercise a little vigilence. And anyway, rea;;y young kids don't actually want to look at porn, so in the not very common schenario of them stumbling across a sex site, they'll probably just close it. And if they don't, the parent should be there to close it for them. "Undesirable" does not equal "government must spend money to sort out".

Anonymous said...

Hands off my internet, this kind of thing really winds up anon.

mark said...

"a Whitehall Department for Porn Surfing"

Ofwrist?

geek parent said...

Politicians who have never had a proper job understand little and IT is probably the worst area of all. The gulf has widened with the increasing pace of development and rise of the internet. They are such buffoons that they can't even engage appropriate people to help them, so it's the blind leading the blind. But I digress...

I've never gone for this "internet is corrupting our children" business. I have two kids who are now 16 and 14. They have grown up with the internet and have computers in their bedrooms. Through their genes and my own humble efforts they are growing up to be normal, decent non-malevolent types. I have not deployed any sort of blocking or filtering software. My son could defeat it anyway.

It's a big bad world out there and I am happy for them to know that. My router has a logging port. They know that and they know their traffic is logged and can be reviewed. So it's up to them. Cross a line (constantly moving as they grow) and you lose internet access. Simple.

I bet many MPs are hardly paragons when it comes to internet usage, certainly if their other exploits are anything to go by. By all means educate the masses about internet and computers if you can but piss off and leave me to make my own decisions.

Fred Luke said...

Dizzy, i dont understand Hugo did not advocate a Whitehall department or Government censorship but a new regulatory body modeled on the press complaints commission or the advertising standards authority. he suggestted that it could be called the "internet standards authority".

I dont think anyone disagrees that children should be protected from some internet content.

Hugo was clear that adults should be able to access the internet as now but he floated a couple of ideas of protecting children such as filtering at the ISP level, all internet ready platforms sold with robust internet filters and, as you mentioned, improving the education of children and parents.

He was always going to get knocked by bloggers but perhapes you should read the speech - there are some good ideas.

Julian the Wonderhorse said...

What will the regulator be called - OFFGROT?

How about OFFSHAG?

Henry Crun said...

andy p said: With one click of a mouse, a child could inadvertently be exposed to any of the types of porn (or worse) that you listed in your post and who wants that?

Andy please enlighten me as to how a child can with "one click of a mouse" access pornography. How?

One has to either type in the known URL or do a google search or similar in order to obtain the web address in the first place.

To suggest that the childruuuuuun can somehow be scarred for life by one click of a mouse is just plain stupid.