Anti-Porn Program Tells ISPs To Do The Impossible: Only Block Bad Content; Don’t Block Good Content

Aug 14, 2013
Internet
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The Great Internet Porn Firewall of Britain is now in full effect and, contrary to earlier reports, the no-porn filter will be mandatory even for smaller, “boutique” ISPs. How this will play with Andrews & Arnold, the ISP inviting customers seeking internet filtering to check with North Korea, remains to be seen.

All “questionable content” boxes are to be pre-ticked to provide maximum sensitization, per UK policy, and if someone wishes for a less censored internet experience, they’ll have to go through the trouble of informing their ISP that they are indeed a responsible adult capable of handling NSFW material.

In addition, the UK government wants a guarantee that legitimate content won’t accidentally get sucked into the filter. How it imagines this will be accomplished remains a mystery. I doubt anyone in Parliament will be staying up late trying to solve this problem as the government has decided to “allow” the ISPs to figure it out on their own.

Finally, DCMS demand ISPs give them magic beans (“We want industry to continue to refine and improve their filters to ensure they do not – even unintentionally – filter out legitimate content”) and threaten them with regulation if they do not answer to future demands, or “maintain momentum”.

There’s nothing quite like a faith-based technological platform crafted by a crack team of professional busybodies and bureaucrats, especially one that assumes the only fuel needed is good intentions and the “momentum” will sustain itself into perpetuity. OR ELSE.

Anti-Porn v14.6.7.15

The not-so-veiled threat on the end really drives the point home. What happens if the ISPs fail to deliver the impossible with their inability to prevent something that is by definition unpreventable? What are the consequences of failing to “maintain momentum” or “proactiveness” or whatever term the government is using to redefine “doing what they’re told?” The “strategy guide” spells it out this way.

And while Government looks to the industry to deliver, through the self-regulatory mechanisms already established under UKCCIS, we are clear that if momentum is not maintained, we will consider whether alternative regulatory powers can deliver a culture of universally-available, family-friendly internet access that is easy to use.

Jesus. That’s frightening. If ISPs don’t march in lockstep with Cameron’s orders, they’ll simply be beaten into shape by restrictive government mandates that ensure “a culture of universally-available, family-friendly internet access.” If that doesn’t sound like a slightly kinder, gentler version of any totalitarian regime’s homegrown “internet,” then I didn’t just throw up a little in my mouth while typing out that quote.

Why would the government threaten to set up its own internet, one dangerously low on a.) blackjack and b.) hookers? For the children, of course. Every form of media, not just the internet, is subject to these guidelines.

This should be underpinned by a basic, common set of media standards, building on existing standards that already apply in many places. We would expect this to include:

• Protection of minors: including protecting children’s exposure to material that seeks to sexualise them, strong sexual content, violence, imitable and dangerous behaviour, any specific health priorities, safety of children in content and protecting against commercial influence.

Well, Cameron might want to contact the Daily Mail and ask if it’s willing to stop sexualizing minors, something it’s never been shy about doing even if the front page is making all sorts of noise about rampant child pornography. I’m sure Cameron will also be clamping down on advertisers who push products pretty much anywhere they can aimed at the wide open wallets of teens and tweens (or ultimately, their parents). (P.S. Have the cast of Jackass shot.)

The UK government’s never ending quest to turn the internet into a Disney-esque wonderland where no one sees anything they don’t want to and are never even mildly insulted is pathetic. And disturbing. Cameron’s plans infantilize the nation’s children and adults, treating them both as precious bundles of stupidity too incompetent to make their own decisions on appropriate content.

If Cameron’s ultimate goal is to govern a nation of infants, he’s well on his way. But he’s going to find the behavior behind the disturbing images will continue on unabated. His solutions will work about as well as slapping band-aids on someone bleeding internally. At some point down the road, he or his successors will triumphantly point at the unstained bandages as proof of their effectiveness. And if something should actually mar the surface, the call will out go out for bigger bandages — and more of them.

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