Identity theft anyone?

The Conservatives say they will force hardcore pornography websites to put in place age-restriction controls or face being shut down if they win the election.

Hmm.

Under the Tory proposals the system would be overseen by an independent regulator with the power to compel internet service providers (ISPs) to block sites which failed to include effective age verification.

Hmm.

“That is why we need effective controls online that apply to UK and overseas.”

Hmm. Now, the way that is written means that anyone in the UK wanting to see hardcore would have to prove their age to the site (note, not the ISP!) that is providing the hardcore. To foreign sites which are streaming it for example.

Hmm. So, we live in a country where we don’t have ID cards. So, how do we prove age?

More importantly, how do we prove age to foreign porn merchants without giving them the information to nick our identity?

Leave aside the basic desirability (or, as the case is, the undesirability of this) and just consider the mechanics being proposed. Every Brit that wants to see a pair of messy tatas is going to have to give sufficient proof of identity to some unregulated foreigners to prove that it is actually them.

No, no, I can’t see that that might cause a problem at all.

89 thoughts on “Identity theft anyone?”

  1. The Meissen Bison

    Yet another reason, if one were needed, not to venture out to a polling station in a month’s time.

    What used to be the Conservative Party has become illiberal, repressive and incompetent.

  2. I wouldn’t say the Tory party has a great history of liberalism. They did used to be competent though. Now they are New Labour but without the ruthless cunning.

  3. Hard core porn sites might win the election. You what?

    More seriously, this is the same government that promotes precocious sexuality through gay propaganda in primary schools. And then laments the results.

  4. “Now they are New Labour but without the ruthless cunning.”

    And without the shamelessness to say ridiculous, counterfactual sh1t to the media (think back to the Blair years and the hear-tearing nonsense they used to spout). And without the media to let them get away with it.

  5. I have a radical theory that in the run up to an election, especially when no party is likely to win a majority so has an instant get-out available on anything inconvenient or impossible to implement, perhaps not all campaign pledges/promises/”aspirations” have been fully thought through beyond their headline and focus group appeal, and some should not be taken seriously. May not even have been intended seriously.

  6. Reminds me of something Clinton era, the TV chips which would control what the kids could watch, coming to an alternate future near you approximately one and a half decades ago.

  7. The purpose of this is not to achieve age controls. It is to provide a pretext for blocking porn en masse. Nearly all sites are abroad; most will not bother complying with these regulations- not worth it for the tiny UK market (they’re funded by advertising remember, not even subscriptions)- so the idea is that virtually all the free porn on the internet is replaced by “blocked by OfWank” pages.

    The last thing they want is for all the porn to comply. They want a justification for making it inaccessible. They’ve alread closed virtually the whole domestic business thanks to the Quango ATVOD making it illegal to advertise. This is the justification for the Great Firewall to exclude all the foreign smut.

    The Tories- as Labour- have always been illiberal on these matters. It was a Tory government, with full Labour backing- that introduced the infamous Video Recordings Act 1984.

  8. Understand that there is no evidence base for the effectiveness of these actions – there is no benefits/trade-offs analysis and they may even be counterproductive – and, according to the polls and government consultations, the majority of parents and the public do not support such filtering.

    Once again we have a small minority acting on their (literally) faith-based, conservative positions For Our Own Good against the wishes of the majority, taking over the responsibility of the parents.

    And it is the thin end of the wedge.

    Incidentally, the Scots are getting ID cards by the back door.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-31715798

  9. Hmm. So, we live in a country where we don’t have ID cards. So, how do we prove age?

    It’s normally done by entering credit card details, purely for age verification purposes. At least it used to be, I think nowadays most sites don’t bother or have a disclaimer page where you must confirm you’re over 18 before proceeding. But IanB has it: this is about blocking porn for Puritan reasons, so British Internet will become like that of Singapore or the UAE.

  10. We’re going to have a bureaucracy checking the billion-odd domains every day for anything that looks like porn? No, not going to happen. Utter bullshit.

    One of the beauties of the WWW is that government can’t keep up. You can only effectively censor by manually whitelisting, and that then has a massive break on the economy with people waiting for new services.

    “Javid said: “If you want to buy a hardcore pornography DVD in a store you need to prove your age to the retailers.

    “With the shift to online, children can access adult content on websites without restriction, intentionally or otherwise.

    “As a father to four young children, I worry, like every other parent, how easy it is for them to view explicit material.”

    And that’s how it should be. It’s what we call “In Loco Parentis”. Parents would like control of when their kids get to see The Babadook or have a glass of wine. They’d also like their kids to have freedom to go out on their own. So, we set laws on cinemas, shops and bars. Kids can go to a cinema on their own and see Spongebob Squarepants. At home, it’s your job. Don’t want your kids wanking off to Lisa Ann movies? Put your PC in the living room, set a password, put some adult filtering on it.

  11. Ian B,

    the ATVOD stuff only works because it’s about what goes via the BBFC. I’m honestly amazed that shops selling porn DVDs still exist and that producers still exist in this country. If I wanted to make porn, I’d do it from the Czech Republic where you don’t have to pay hundreds for every clip to the BBFC and you get a better looking model for the money.

  12. Do they actually think this sort of shit will work? That they can have the UK connected up to the modern internets, but stop 14 year olds from looking at porn on it?

    Either they are *that* stupid, or they think that we are. I don’t know which is worse.

  13. Anon-

    ATVOD was created (by Ofcom, under enabling powers) to police things the BBFC doesn’t. They then just made up out of thin air two regulations; firstly that adult sites couldn’t process debit cards (because under 18s might have debit cards) and secondly that they couldn’t show their content beyond the Paywall. They then went around finding sites that had content on show, got OFCOM to impose arbitrary crippling fines on them, and shut them down. They’re nothing to do with the BBFC.

    THeir latest arbitrary regulation was to declare that anything ATVOD considers not inline with BBFC guidelines is illegal, thus further crippling the remnant of the British adult industry (which admittedly was not that big in the first place).

    DVDs are covered by the video recordings act and have to be BBFC approved. Importing unclassified DVDs is illegal and will get them stopped by customs. Customs will open anything they think might be porn; I had a French friend send me a CD of (innocent) software a while ago and it had been opened by customs.

    So this move is to shut down the last channel, foreign websites. Expect them all to be replaced by BLOCKED pages soon after the next election, since even those with paywalls advertise their content beyond the paywall.

  14. Stupid. About as silly as the other parties who want to ban zero hours work contracts. And done for the same reasons: because of wanting to please an electorate perceived as on the edge of moral panic, and totally oblivious to what can be implemented in reality.

  15. It’s not just porn. There’s a big list somewhere of all the things that are filtered or blocked.

    For me, the existing mobile blockers end up restricting access to the wine review sites of Jancis Robinson and Jane MacQuitty, even though they keep all their clothes on, because you have to be over 18 to buy alcohol. It doesn’t happen at home because I switched the stupid filter off, but it affects me when I’m in the supermarket trying to remember which wine was recommended.

    With mobiles, it turns out to be tricky to do the adult-check (prerequisite to switching the filter off) if you’ve got PAYG, because you can buy PAYG with a debit card. If you’ve got a contract, that’s credit, which you supposedly can’t get if you’re under 18.

  16. Every time that Dave says anything about IT or the internet you realise what a complete cretin he is.

    The bit that I (genuinely) find very odd is that he clearly doesn’t think it worth his while to take advice from anyone who actually knows anything about the subject.

    Now if that’s the case for anything to do with IT, then when he talks about the economy, foreign affairs, defence…

    Ian B

    Do you honestly think that a GB Firewall is going to work (“site blocked”)!? Just curious?

  17. “As a father to four young children, I worry, like every other parent, how easy it is for them to view explicit material.”

    That’s also a slightly mendacious statement. It is easy for them to view it, but only if they go looking for it. I use the Internet all day, all week, and I have yet to have anything unseemly suddenly thrust itself onto the screen (ooh err missus). Windows viruses are another matter, but there’s an easy solution to that.

    The kids say the school filters do periodically stop teachers from displaying things they are meant to see.

  18. This already exists for gambling websites. That’s a highly regulated industry where they are shit scared of a single teenager misusing their parent’s credit card.

    Really it is just a growth opportunity for the businesses which supply this service, namely GB Group, Experian, Equifax, LexisNexis etc.

    I wonder if any of them donate to the Tory campaign?

  19. Ian B,

    And how are they going to find them all? How many people do you think it’ll take to keep finding every porn site that gets registered? If I was running a site in the Czech Republic I’d just buy a new domain name (couple of quid) and tell all my subscribers it’s no longer at hotczechbabes.com, but at hotczechbabes2.com. You can add a new domain to your web server settings in a few minutes.

    How fast is the bureaucracy going to keep up with that? They won’t be able to just ban it, they’ll be a whole load of due process like there is with torrent trackers, something the government has failed to deal with.

  20. Anon-

    Except you wouldn’t bother, because the UK market is a small one cmopared to the global market, and it’s not worth chasing around evading the blocks, so you’d just let it go. You think Pornhub or Redtube are going to keep shifting domains every couple of days to evade the OfWank blockers? No.

    And the second point really- as I’ve been saying on and off for the past 15 years in expectation of the authoritiees doing this- is that people who think technology>law misses the point. The law doesn’t work by preventing crimes, it works by making it illegal to be caught.

    From here, it’s a small step to bringing everything not BBFC classified into the “extreme” category as a possession offence, which is the end game. In the meantime they will be happy with blocking most foreign porn sites- which will have a very wide definition as anything with full nudity- expanding the bureaucracy and intensifying demonisation.

    As with drugs, they don’t mind that people get hold of them somehow, so long as it’s illegally.

  21. Hi Ian,

    Interesting, but isn’t that just a plain vanilla GB based site:

    https://apps.db.ripe.net/search/lookup.html?source=ripe&key=83.138.166.64%20-%2083.138.166.127&type=inetnum

    on Victoria Street (geolocation):

    http://whatismyipaddress.com/ip/83.138.166.114

    So yes, in any case like this, I agree – local enforcement (London) can do just that (and on a – oh so slow – site by site basis) for something that was specifically deemed as illegal in their local domain.

    But for millions and millions of sites hosted out of foreign? And any foreign? That’s more what I meant by a “GB firewall”

  22. bloke (not) in spain

    I’d say Ian has it. Blocking will be unworkable. In the same way you can’t block kiddiepr0n. But if they can make the downloading of pr0n from foreign sites illegal it’s the same deterrent as kiddiepr0n. The fear of your machine being seized & a nastycourt case/publicity/penalty. process being much of the penalty.
    And now wait for downloading anything from non-approved sites to be illegal.

  23. Or, if I am not being clear.

    This is a UK based site itself being physically shut down. Not a site continuing to be accessible but simply blocked to UK users because Dave thinks it should?

  24. B(n)iS

    OK, but that’s a long way off what is in the thread header above.

    And good luck to any government that tries to say “the downloading of porn is now illegal”!

  25. PF-

    Plod are now hosting it.

    But the point is not that they’ll shut down sites, which is slow and difficult (which is why on IP enforcement like that, they’re going for low hanging fruit like FileCrop) but that they can easily identify sites and- with the legal powers to instruct ISPs to block them- can easily block most sites rapidly. You’ll have rooms full of State funded workers boredly Googling and compiling lists to be sent out to all ISPs. It is in fact entirely do-able.

    Porn will still get through of course, but the easy web access to free porn we’re used to can be almost totally blocked.

  26. bloke (not) in spain

    “And good luck to any government that tries to say “the downloading of porn is now illegal”!

    Fancy downloading some kiddie pr0n? Would you risk it?

  27. And good luck to any government that tries to say “the downloading of porn is now illegal”!

    That looks very similar to the “they’d never get away with banning smoking in pubs” argument.

  28. bloke (not) in spain

    “That looks very similar to the “they’d never get away with banning smoking in pubs” argument.”

    It’s actually more similar to “they’d never get away with banning e-cigs in pubs”. They haven’t. Yet. But try using one & see how many times you’re told you can’t.

  29. “Plod are now hosting it.”

    OK, got you. But it must have been based in the UK or they wouldn’t have been able to do that.

    “with the legal powers to instruct ISPs to block them”

    That’s not happening yet. ISPs like AAISP (and others) simply don’t play ball:

    http://aa.net.uk/kb-broadband-realinternet.html

    “Fancy downloading some kiddie pr0n? Would you risk it?”

    What? Not sure where you are heading with that kind of swerve ball, and I don’t want to know either..!!

    “That looks very similar to the “they’d never get away with banning smoking in pubs” argument.”

    I can see where you are going! I still can’t see it happening.

    And of course, for foreign, that’s all before TOR, proxies, VPNs etc…

  30. @IanB: but in this case they aren’t making it illegal to view porn without verifying your age, rather illegal for the porn website to show it in the UK without age verification. Thus if a UK located person manages to view porn on a foreign site without proof of age he (or she) hasn’t committed a crime, the website owner has. But as they are based outside the UK, they won’t give a f*ck anyway.

    Unless they actually make it a crime to view porn in the UK on a site without age verification, then the law is pointless. Thats not to say that wouldn’t be the next port of call of course………………….

    Of course there is an alternative train of thought that says that our lords and masters in government view porn as much as anyone else, and when push comes to shove will baulk at actually enacting anything that affects them personally, and this will all get shoved off sideways after the vote gathering has been done, and filed in the ‘Well, we wanted to do this, but the technicalities proved too hard to overcome’ folder.

  31. PF-

    I just presented that site as an example of the authorities knowing where the sites they are after are. If customers can find them, so can Plod. I think Filecrop had a registrar vulnerable to a takedown notice, in that case.

    Virtually all ISPs are already on BT’s autoblocking “Cleanfeed” system, except a few tiny holdouts (AA are the only one I know of). That’s because that was a voluntary thing. They’re now going to legislate to prevent any such holdouts.

    Jim-

    As I said further up the thread, the purpose at this stage is to have legislation justifying en masse blocking at the ISP level. Since most foreign websites are dependent on having hardcore material visible for free, they simply won’t comply. It’s not worth them complying. ATVOD (who suggested this move about a year ago) already know this, which is why they suggested it. They don’t want compliant foreign websites. They want a pretext for blocking access to them.

    The suggestion about what they’ll do next- gradually smear the definition of “illegal to possess” onto anything non-BBFC is admittedly a speculation, but one based on the normal way the Puritans operate.

  32. CHF,

    “That’s also a slightly mendacious statement. It is easy for them to view it, but only if they go looking for it. I use the Internet all day, all week, and I have yet to have anything unseemly suddenly thrust itself onto the screen (ooh err missus). Windows viruses are another matter, but there’s an easy solution to that.”

    The problem with “kids viewing porn” is that it lumps together little kids inadvertently seeing it and older kids looking for it.

    In the early 80s, I was looking at porn at 13. Most of my mates were. We had supply chains – a bloke on the market who turned a blind eye to kids ages, the kid whose dad owned a newsagent who would sell it to us when his dad went up to the stock room. Kids who pinched Playboys off the shelf at WH Smith or from their dad’s/brother’s stash.

    If you think you’re going to stop kids looking at it who want to look at it, you’ve got more chance stopping Liam Neeson in a Taken movie. You can copy a GB of data (an hour+ of porn) in a few minutes. If you shut down the net, they’ll just trade USB sticks in the playground.

    Some of these people doing these studies are weirdos, frankly. Esther Rantzen said “Girls in particular have said they feel like they have to look and behave like porn stars to be liked by boys.”. Like, when was this not true? The male fantasies since forever were big-titted women with tight clothing, like Betty Grable and Raquel Welsh. Giving out a blowjob to a boyfriend will make him stay more than not giving out a blowjob to your boyfriend.

  33. Re, what will they do next, let’s reflect on the past few years: the opt-in filters were just for porn but somehow became opt-out and not just for porn.

    “In addition to the filtering of illegal content (see Internet Watch Foundation) and court-ordered website blocking, UK ISPs are, to various levels, making unavailable content deemed unsuitable by government guidelines.”

    Subjects include:
    “Dating, Drugs, Alcohol and Tobacco, File sharing, Gambling, Games, Pornography, Nudity, Social networking and Web forums, Suicide and Self-harm, Weapons and violence, Obscenity, Criminal Skills, Hate, Media Streaming, Fashion and Beauty, Gore, Cyberbullying, Hacking, Sex education, Search Engines, Phishing, Malware and Spyware” and payday loans.
    https://wiki.openrightsgroup.org/wiki/Content_filtering_by_UK_ISPs

    O2, Orange, EE, Vodafone, T-Mobile, BT, Virgin, Sky, TalkTalk among those internet providers with such filters. That’s the majority of internet service provision in the UK.

    Conservative (small c) Christian groups and the Daily Mail among those calling for such filters. Guess who have been the chairs of the working groups etc? Conservative Christians like Reg Bailey and Claire Perry.

  34. They haven’t stopped people taking drugs either, but they’ve done a lot of damage in the failing. The point is, you’re not dealing with rational people. They invent reality to suit their own feelings.

  35. Ian B,

    “Except you wouldn’t bother, because the UK market is a small one cmopared to the global market, and it’s not worth chasing around evading the blocks, so you’d just let it go. You think Pornhub or Redtube are going to keep shifting domains every couple of days to evade the OfWank blockers? No.”

    Well, for one thing, they won’t be able to respond in a couple of days. The bureaucracy won’t move that fast. It’ll take weeks or months.

    And the costs of creating pornhub2 are miniscule. A .com domain costs $10 a year, and pointing your site to it takes minutes. This is what happens with torrent sites right now.

    “And the second point really- as I’ve been saying on and off for the past 15 years in expectation of the authoritiees doing this- is that people who think technology>law misses the point. The law doesn’t work by preventing crimes, it works by making it illegal to be caught.”

    But you can only work within certain boundaries, like whether the public will accept the law. There’s a few people who would like to ban porn, and are vocal about it, but most people aren’t. The public are mostly liberal in such matters. Are you going to fine people for it, cost the public in prisons for possessing porn?

    This is just a game of keeping those voters with a bit of “government taking action” talk while not carrying out any action. And they always slip this stuff out on a weekend when there’s not going to be any discussion on Today about it.

    “From here, it’s a small step to bringing everything not BBFC classified into the “extreme” category as a possession offence, which is the end game. In the meantime they will be happy with blocking most foreign porn sites- which will have a very wide definition as anything with full nudity- expanding the bureaucracy and intensifying demonisation.”

    But the public won’t accept it. The “extreme” porn category is very extreme. Personally, I’m against it, but the stuff that was banned was stuff that almost no-one does like causing serious injury to a person. You’re not going to see even spanking videos banned because a decent minority of voters are into it, and everyone else doesn’t have much of an opinion.

  36. ukliberty,

    “Re, what will they do next, let’s reflect on the past few years: the opt-in filters were just for porn but somehow became opt-out and not just for porn.”

    All of which were voluntary. There was no law passed regarding the filters, and plenty of ISPs that don’t have filters.

  37. bloke (not) in spain

    “But you can only work within certain boundaries, like whether the public will accept the law.”
    Oh, fuck off. This is the UK & Brits you’re dealing with here. Particularly the English. You could make possession of grandmothers illegal & you’d have compliant Brits carting Gran down the nick & throwing her in the no questions asked bin by the door.
    Just name one restrictive unpopular law the craven British public have balked at?

  38. Ian B

    Sure, point taken, though as you know “Cleanfeed” is entirely voluntary at the subscriber level. Ie, any subscriber can simply switch it off and obviously lots do.

    We’ll see what happens as to whether all ISPs will be forced to offer those or more restrictive kinds of “services”. Adrian Kennard (who owns AAISP) has said that he believes that there are many small ISPs currently that do not “offer” any filtering?

    And I think he has also made it clear that they (as an ISP, never mind that users can do it themselves) may look to find legal methods (such as overseas servers / VPNs, etc?) to help their customers avoid any such intrusive blocking, general monitoring or censorship type processes, if such processes did become mandatory in the UK.

    I guess time will tell…

  39. “you’ve got more chance stopping Liam Neeson in a Taken movie.”

    Ha ha, very good. Made me chuckle.

    That list above included ‘hate’. The Left defines ‘hate’ as any criticism of people or groups favoured by the Left. In fact, any position right of George Monbiot is ‘hate’. How supple do you think this definition will be?

  40. PF-

    No, Cleanfeed isn’t voluntary at the subscriber level. It’s the other “voluntary” filters that are. Cleanfeed filters the content before it gets to the ISP.

    But that doesn’t matter. ISPs have so far been “requested” to join that. Most have. There has been no legislation. We’re now going to get legislation which will be mandatory on all ISPs.

    As to Anon’s “what the public will accept” argument, I can only say, what B(n)IS said.

    And I repeat, teh webmasters mostly won’t bother evading. The Torrent sites are doing something that is overtly dodging laws all over the place. Porn websites aren’t. They’re doing something that’s legal everywhere except Britain, so when Britain blocks them they’ll just go, fuck Britain, in the main. They need customers to come in from links from other websites, and search engines, and so on. Think of all the TGPs and traffic farming. Shifting all the links around simply is not going to be worth the effort for a small market like us.

    Hoping that OfWank will be overwhelmed by quantity is woefully naive.

  41. The “extreme” porn category is very extreme. Personally, I’m against it, but the stuff that was banned was stuff that almost no-one does like causing serious injury to a person.

    It’s more widely drawn than that.

    “Re, what will they do next, let’s reflect on the past few years: the opt-in filters were just for porn but somehow became opt-out and not just for porn.”

    All of which were voluntary. There was no law passed regarding the filters, and plenty of ISPs that don’t have filters.

    It’s not voluntary, it’s opt-out. And the gov doesn’t need a law if the biggest ISPs bend over, do they? If the ISPs hadn’t, there was a law drafted by the government – the Communications Data Bill – and at least two Private Members Bills prior to that, which would have made the filters mandatory. The Government told ISPs to do it or else there would be legislation.

  42. “No, Cleanfeed isn’t voluntary at the subscriber level. It’s the other “voluntary” filters that are. Cleanfeed filters the content before it gets to the ISP.”

    Apols, my mistake…

  43. b(n)is,

    “Just name one restrictive unpopular law the craven British public have balked at?”

    Name one restrictive, unpopular law.

  44. ukliberty

    “It’s not voluntary, it’s opt-out. And the gov doesn’t need a law if the biggest ISPs bend over, do they”

    The “opt-out” is at the subscriber level, not the ISP level? Sure the ISPs, like BT Retail, do mostly “bend over” and implement the system, but even if when they do the subscriber can themselves still opt-out?

    Unless I misunderstood you?

  45. PF-

    This isn’t going to be opt-out, opt-in or any other sort of opting. It’s going to be straight blocking for all.

  46. ukliberty,

    “It’s more widely drawn than that.”

    Is it? Tell more. I though it was down to things like life-threatening activities and extreme pain, necrophilia and bestiality. Most of which have very few fans.

    “It’s not voluntary, it’s opt-out. And the gov doesn’t need a law if the biggest ISPs bend over, do they? If the ISPs hadn’t, there was a law drafted by the government – the Communications Data Bill – and at least two Private Members Bills prior to that, which would have made the filters mandatory. The Government told ISPs to do it or else there would be legislation.”

    Private Member’s Bills count for shit, and the CDM was nothing to do with porn filtering but to do with collecting data.

  47. Ian B,

    Seriously, you think a site like Pornhub won’t spend a few dollars a month and a few hours a month adding domain names for their 2nd biggest market?

  48. You think Pornhub are going to bother when all the search engine and incoming links from other sites (who are also blocked anyway) will be knackered?

    Seriously, I fall into despair when people come out with this “technology workaround” argument. It so utterly misses the point of what is going on. It’s like that dispiriting “who cares about the licensing laws, I know a pub that does lock-ins” attitude that has ensured that the State can stamp all over us for the past century.

  49. Ian B, if I remember correctly, you’re an IT chap.

    “This isn’t going to be opt-out, opt-in or any other sort of opting. It’s going to be straight blocking for all.”

    I understand your view.

    Given all of the above, I’m curious. Exactly how? In reality (rather than just pretending to legislate) that is?

    Or perhaps that’s for another day?

  50. Ian B

    “Seriously, I fall into despair when people come out with this “technology workaround” argument. It so utterly misses the point of what is going on. It’s like that dispiriting “who cares about the licensing laws, I know a pub that does lock-ins” attitude that has ensured that the State can stamp all over us for the past century.”

    OK, now I understand better where you are coming from…

  51. bloke (not) in spain

    “Seriously, you think a site like Pornhub won’t spend a few dollars a month and a few hours a month adding domain names for their 2nd biggest market?”

    At a guess, Pornhub is a bloke, his secretary & possibly a cat. Pretty well everything else will be bought in services. Making an agile site to defeat UK regulation would require actual dollar earning bods doing actual stuff in real time. Make Pornhub totally uneconomic..

  52. PF,

    “It’s not voluntary, it’s opt-out. And the gov doesn’t need a law if the biggest ISPs bend over, do they”

    The “opt-out” is at the subscriber level, not the ISP level? Sure the ISPs, like BT Retail, do mostly “bend over” and implement the system, but even if when they do the subscriber can themselves still opt-out?

    Unless I misunderstood you?

    Yes, I was talking about two different things:
    1. the ISPs complied with the gov’s demands re filters because the gov threatened legislation if the ISPs didn’t comply;
    2. subscribers can currently opt-out of the filters, but that doesn’t mean the filters are voluntary. Not to me, anyway.

    Worth pointing out again that the slippery slope was in place while that proposal was still just a proposal: opt-in -> out-out, porn -> lots of other things. (Actually, iirc it went child abuse -> porn -> lots of other things.)

    And as Ian points out, these latest proposals don’t involve members of the public opting in or out.

  53. PF-

    No, I’m not an IT chap, but I have a couple of websites for selling my “adult” art so I know a bit about the adult web biz and running small websites. Never been as such part of the porn biz though like Pornhub, just forced to use some of it’s methods due to dirty pictures.

    The “how” appears to be that they’re going to legislate such that any ISP that doesn’t block adult material that isn’t behind a Paywall will get fined. That will force any holdouts like AAISP to adopt Cleanfeed (since blocking for themselves will be too big a job); therefore Cleanfeed will get its list from the proposed new Quango (OfWank or whatever) and thus we get compulsory blocking across all ISPs.

    In other words, having got “voluntary compliance” so far by the threat of legislation, they’re now promising to introduce the legislation anyway. It is highly unlikely that any significant ISPs will raise much objection, and since there is no organised free speech lobby in this country, nor an organised adult industry lobby- as in the USA, where they can go to court on Constitutional grounds- this will go straight through the Commons like grit through a goose.

    This is why the two sides of the usual pincer movement- Christian Right and Feminist Left- have been building the “sexualisation” myth for the past few years, so nobody who is anybody will dare object to this vital child protection measure. Hence the supportive rentaquotes from Reg Bailey, Childline, the NSPCC, Stop Violence Against Women, etc

  54. Ian B,

    “You think Pornhub are going to bother when all the search engine and incoming links from other sites (who are also blocked anyway) will be knackered?”

    You think the state can block all incoming links? Some user on Twitter telling a load of user users to now go to pornhub2 and they tell lots of other users? This stuff spreads like wildfire.

    “Seriously, I fall into despair when people come out with this “technology workaround” argument. It so utterly misses the point of what is going on. It’s like that dispiriting “who cares about the licensing laws, I know a pub that does lock-ins” attitude that has ensured that the State can stamp all over us for the past century.”

    I’d argue that technology is the greatest force against governments. Councils banning Life of Brian were worked around by people getting into camper vans and going to the next town. The BBFC rarely bans any films now (unlike in the era of Reservoir Dogs and True Romance) because they know people will just stream them from the USA. Gaming taxes no longer exist because people worked around them. In those area, technology made a bigger difference than any campaign groups did.

  55. bloke (not) in spain

    Well, you might link to your website, Ian. If your genre is what i think it is, I’ll likely buy some. It being very appropriate for purpose. And save me scouring the web for overpriced Vallejos.
    I expect Tim would pass the url’s if you’re shy.

  56. b(n)is,

    Even if it is a bloke and his cat (Pornhub has a team of 15, actually), you think it wouldn’t be worth him doing the tiny amount of domain work every so often to keep 13% of his traffic?

    I’m guessing they’re running on Linux servers, but from an IIS perspective, adding a domain to a site takes me about 5 minutes. This assumes I’ve already bought the spare domain, pointed it at my DNS server and that it’s globally propagated (that’s about another 10 minutes of effort).

  57. Forgot to mention the spillover from those opt-out filters in addition to the slippery slope: e.g. sexual health advice and, ironically, ChildLine and the NSPCC.

    Anon,

    things like life-threatening activities and extreme pain, necrophilia and bestiality. Most of which have very few fans.

    IIRC cases prosecuted include images and videos related to BDSM, fisting and an animated tiger. The latter was dropped when the CPS turned up the volume control:
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/01/06/tiger_police/

    Private Member’s Bills count for shit, and the CDM was nothing to do with porn filtering but to do with collecting data.

    (1) depends if they’re supported by the gov and (2) istr there were clauses in the draft bill relating to porn filtering, bicbw, perhaps it was another bill. But that’s not particularly important or on point, the fact is the ISPs were told if they didn’t comply they would be made to and Ofcom was told to report to the PM on the “progress” of all ISPs.

  58. b(n)is,

    “If it’s that easy, Anon, what does it need a team of 15 for? Quality control?”

    I didn’t say it was easy. I said adding a domain name to a website is.

  59. ukliberty.

    “(1) depends if they’re supported by the gov and (2) istr there were clauses in the draft bill relating to porn filtering, bicbw, perhaps it was another bill. But that’s not particularly important or on point, the fact is the ISPs were told if they didn’t comply they would be made to and Ofcom was told to report to the PM on the “progress” of all ISPs.”

    1. They weren’t
    2 a) OK. Tell me the name of the other bill b) well, maybe OFCOM were asked to report, but that doesn’t mean shit, does it? Fact is, my ISP (Plusnet) has done shit about this.

    I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the companies that joined in with this are also the ISPs that sell movies and services like premiership football. The filtering not only includes porn but also illegal streaming sites. So, they have an interest in keeping people away from illegal sites and buying movies from them, where smaller ISPs are just supplying a connection and don’t care what you watch on it.

  60. Anon, they don’t need to block the Twitter links themselves. The links will point to a domain that is blocked.

    I can never quite understand the motivation of your kind of “it’s no biggie” argument, I have to admit, as a general point. “They’re going to prohibit cheese? No problem, they’ll never find every dairy.” etc. It’s not quite addressing the point, is it?

  61. Anon,

    2 a) OK. Tell me the name of the other bill

    It was the Communications Bill not, as I misrecalled, the Communications Data Bill.

    well, maybe OFCOM were asked to report, but that doesn’t mean shit, does it? Fact is, my ISP (Plusnet) has done shit about this.

    What the small ISPs haven’t done until now is irrelevant when ~90% of UK internet subscribers are covered, the gov doesn’t show any signs of ceasing to use the ratchet and trying to control what most people can access.

  62. Anyway, they are going to legislate now. It is extremely unlikely that in composing a Bill, they will not incorporate the previous “voluntary” measures in the legislation.

  63. bloke (not) in spain

    Ah, UK Lib, all becomes clear.
    Isn’t one of the categories of the LGBT…. alphabet soup those people who identify as not being human? The “furries” & such? So bloke in Tiger suit & wench. It’s obvious Plod was just being suitably inclusive under the no-discrimination guidelines..

  64. bloke (not) in spain

    Maybe I should make that clearer.
    If you believe you are a tiger. And who would dare to challenge what any member of the LBST…. community believes in this day & age? Then you clearly are a tiger.
    In which case, bestiality. Fair cop.
    Simples, really.

  65. “Anon, they don’t need to block the Twitter links themselves. The links will point to a domain that is blocked.”

    No. Pornhub’s twitter account would just say “new domain pornhub2.com” and everyone would go to the new domain.

    “I can never quite understand the motivation of your kind of “it’s no biggie” argument, I have to admit, as a general point. “They’re going to prohibit cheese? No problem, they’ll never find every dairy.” etc. It’s not quite addressing the point, is it?”

    I’m saying that this is not going to happen, for 2 reasons: the public don’t want it and it’s not practical.

    This is really a message for the base – some religious Conservative supporters. These stories always come out on a religious day and early in the morning when everyone else is asleep. They know that you can buy the base with promises. It’s like minimum pricing or for Labour, nationalising rail. Both illegal under EU law which is why they won’t implement them, but even a vague promise will keep the base on side.

  66. ukliberty,

    You’ll need to give me a link to that as I can find no record of it. There’s a Communications White Paper on the subject, which again, means shit.

  67. A vaguely related gripe – I used to use lots of throwaway and forget email addresses to protect my privacy online.

    Recently all the major free email providers and all the minor ones I’ve come across have started demanding a phone number through which they can verify me during the sign up process. So that’s the privacy out of the window.

    I turned to mailinator and its alternate domains … But more and more services are blocking them too.

    It isn’t so much the fear of identity theft which bugs me about this but the lack of privacy is very annoying. Are there any email providers out there now that you can use for throwaway accounts which don’t demand an existing phone or email?

  68. A quango posing as a charity publish some made-up ‘findings’, then the Tory party announce a policy based those findings one week later. One wonders which really came first.

    And I don’t buy the whole “fundie Christians” influence thing. The principal beneficiaries of a de-facto ban on free porn will be, ironically, those selling it. Seems like the classic ‘bootleggers and Baptists’ wheeze, with rent-seeking public sector fatcats in the middle.

  69. @MyBurningEars:

    Are there any email providers out there now that you can use for throwaway accounts which don’t demand an existing phone or email?

    Worry no longer with Guerilla Mail, which is a completely throwaway e-mail account and only lasts long enough to receive that acknowledgement e-mail to be able to login to your spam-obsessed website. No phone numbers required either.

    https://www.guerrillamail.com/

  70. Thanks @Machiavelli and @JohnGalt for responses. I am not comfortable with how more and more of the web, and also online services, are attempting to get hold of more and more aspects of your identity.

    I particularly dislike invocations to “Log in with your google account” – or worse still, with “your facebook account” (in my case non-existent).

  71. What’s to stop people using anonymous proxies, not to mention Tor. Are they going to ban AP’s as well ?

  72. Anon,

    You don’t really understand how the online adult business works. Most of the traffic comes from casual surfers, farmed around from site to site. It’s not like, say, The Pirate Bay, where people know that site and go to it to get a particular torrent. It’s much more, an idle desire to look at some porn, the person starts from a search engine then wanders around.

    Like, maybe they start at a free blog, say BigBoobsAlert, they click on a post there, see a gallery they like, follow the link, look at the gallery, click another link, now they’re at Brazzers or PinUpFiles, etc etc, and that’s a short journey. You really have the wrong mental model. It’s all about traffic, most of it casual.

  73. Hmmmm.

    Don,t forget how many people in Operation Ore were locked up just because their credit card numbers were on a site shared with a criminal site… With no real evidence of any crime having been committed.

    The march of the moral Gestapo continues.

  74. They have already lost the battle–hence the use of qualifiers “kiddie” and “hard-core” attached to porn. A society obsessed with sex and sodomy is a poor medium in which to try and grow the bacteria of puritan bullshit esp without widespread religious belief behind it. Oh yes they can cause endless trouble–but they will fail and fall in the end. And soon they will have lots more to worry about than dirty movies. Economic disaster for starters.

    It is noticeably sickening that the only “promises” that the BlueRat and his gang ever even try to keep are the ones that are stupid shite.

  75. If the Chinese can’t stop an clueless internet user like me from accessing Facebook, YouTube and free pornography I don’t fancy the chances of the Tories.

    I guess that’s the idea mind. The puritans get all happy and smug because something they dislike is banned and no one else gives a shit because it’s so easy to access anyway.

    Plus it’s another law that they can use to lock someone up when they can’t get them for anything else.

  76. Last week, a Turkish court ordered an access ban on a single post in the vast sea of more than 60 million individual blogs on WordPress. But for many users, that meant their Internet service providers blocked WordPress entirely.

    It’s a move that shows the scope of Turkey’s Internet law, the power of judges who may not fully understand online media, and the technical capacities of Turkish ISPs, which, under the heavy pressure of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s rule, have turned into instruments of censorship. …
    http://www.dailydot.com/politics/turkey-wordpress-censorship-block/

    According to commenters here that’s OK though, because you can access WordPress if you use a VPN.

  77. Internet censorship and control is rather more subtle, pernicious and sinister than simply attempting to block sites from the entire population, part of a greater whole in terms of government and corporate control of information and increasingly effective and widespread across the planet.

    Perhaps misapprehension about the intent and efficacy results in the apparent complacency – people still think ‘censorship v1.0’, which was superseded years ago, and if blocking (for example) can possibly be circumvented then it isn’t a big deal.

    I’m certain China’s government is well aware it can’t block everything, but that doesn’t stop any of its myriad interferences with online traffic – nor the interferences of those who want to avoid upsetting the government, e.g. the service and content providers and internet users obliged to register with their real names.

    China’s regulations governing internet use are very widely drawn – there’s the inevitable, expected expected stuff like prohibition of criminal activity to things like distortion of the truth, rumour spreading, insults and injuring the reputation of the state, criticism and debate of public policy positions. There is retroactive law here, too – the government is OK with retroactively declaring something a crime.

    ISPs must keep records of their subscribers and monitor their internet usage in detail, keeping records for the police – subscribers must register with their local police station. Internet Content Providers (e.g. Yahoo) must apply for a licence before operating, identify and keep records about their users, monitor all content on their systems and promptly remove from public view and report inappropriate or illegal content (keeping it for 60 days, or more if requested) – they are made responsible for the content they show, some decide to err on the side of caution.

    Many citizens use cybercafes. Not all cybercafes are licensed – they are supposed to be. The government has shut down tens of thousands of cybercafes. Cybercafes are required to install monitoring and filtering systems, to block porn and subversive content, keep detailed logs linking users (by demanding presentation of the citizen’s identity card before allowing the use of their internet connection) to the pages they visit, which must be made available to the Culture Department and Public Security Bureau on request, log attempts to visit blocked pages, and report all unlawful activity to the Culture Department and PSB.

    If you want to run a legal ISP, ICP or cybercafe there are complex and expensive licensing requirements, mandatory inspections, prescribed minimums for available capital and the number of employees and wide restrictions on the types of content to which you allow access.

    Bloggers (including microbloggers such as tumblrs) must register with their real names. Where it has been studied, real name registration inhibits behaviour – people tend to self-censor, there is a chilling effect on speech.

    China filters the internet – using the Golden Shield, aka the Great Firewall – by means such as IP blocks, DNS poisoning, keyword filtering (e.g. web search results) and user blocking (e.g. where a search result is a banned word, the user’s connection is terminated for long periods). They don’t filter all content – possibly because that’s too resource-intensive today. But they do filter a lot of content. Officially, “superstitious, pornographic, violence-related, gambling and other harmful information”. Also, content relating to opposition parties, Tibet, the independence of Taiwan, Tiananmen Square, collective action (e.g. protests) – again, not all of it, but a lot of it. There is overblocking too, because they accept overblocking as a trade-off – e.g. they’ll block blogspot.com if there is unacceptable content on some blogspot subdomains.

    Apparently, there is growing use of deep packet inspection, which can be used to block VPNs – one means of otherwise circumventing the Golden Shield. Some VPN software requires particular ports, which can be blocked. Many proxy servers are blocked. There is an ‘arms race’ with Tor, too, where China is blocking Tor relays and examining how Tor use shows in network traffic.

    The government uses people and systems to create and filter posts and comments that favour the government’s positions and report posts and comments that oppose the government, deliberately attempting to alter the online environment in favour of the government – promoting positive views and repressing, monitoring and reporting negative views, shifting not only the particular views but also the perception of the prevalence of those views. Pro-government propaganda is disguised as posted by private voices. Internet providers, whether ISPs, ICPs or cybercafes, attempt to mitigate the risks of coming to the attention of the state and employ people and systems to monitor and moderate content, too. Users who persist in posting offending content face punishment ranging from being banned from the particular site, being banned from using the internet, to arrest and imprisonment.

    China also censors and blocks by keywords. You can circumvent that by using homophones. But again that doesn’t mean we can be sanguine about keyword blocking. It increases the ‘cost’ of posting the content and reduces the likelihood of someone understanding the meaning.

    So there are informal constraints (real name registrants self-censoring, internet users’ fear of testing the limits, internet providers erring on the side of caution and censoring and blocking, volunteer citizens monitoring, moderating, reporting and altering perceptions) as well as formal constraints (laws, regulations and state-deployed mechanisms). There is a shift of the burden of censorship and perception control from the state to private actors. There is a complex set of overlapping formal and informal, state- and private- mechanisms.

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