By: MarkJ - 9 June, 2011 (8:04 AM)
iwf-logo-headline.jpgThe UK Internet Watch Foundation ( IWF ), which already works with most consumer broadband ISPs to block websites that contain child sexual abuse content, could soon see its "voluntary" remit extended to include internet sites that contain "violent and unlawful" content.

The proposals were outlined in the UK HomeOffice's latest anti-terrorism Prevent Strategy report, which was released earlier this week.

Prevent Strategy Report - Quote

Internet filtering across the public estate is essential. We want to ensure that users in schools, libraries, colleges and Immigration Removal Centres are unable to access unlawful material. We will continue to work closely with DfE, BIS, the CTIRU, Regional Broadband Consortia and the filtering industry.

We want to explore the potential for violent and unlawful URL lists to be voluntarily incorporated into independent national blocking lists, including the list operated by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

Few right-minded people could have any serious objection to the principal of blocking either child sexual abuse content or websites that clearly contain terrorist material. However, the report also mentions "unlawful" URL's (websites), which crosses into somewhat murkier depths. It doesn't take much for "unlawful" to include guides about home firework / rocket building and so forth.

The UK government and broadband ISPs are already known to be working on a new Voluntary Code of Practice to block any website that is deemed to "facilitate" internet copyright infringement (here). ISPs are quite rightly worried about the costs of doing this and they don't want to cut-off websites without an impartial judge being brought in to asses each case.

Another problem stems from the effectiveness of such solutions. The report claims that internet filtering solutions make it so that users are "unable to access unlawful material", which is incorrect. ISP's have limited control to physically remove or block content that does not exist within their own network, at least not without preventing all HTTP (web browsing) traffic, and as a result such filters can be easily circumvented (VPN, DNS changes, Proxy Servers etc.).

None of this is to say that the government shouldn't work with the IWF to extend such powers, although we should be very careful about how far it goes and recognise that it is not a solution to the problem. Those they're trying to prevent will usually be clever enough to work their way around such limits and in so doing would become even more undetectable than before.
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Comments: 13

asa logoBob2002
Posted: 9 June, 2011 - 10:13 AM
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"unable to access unlawful material"


Same old garbage from the politicians. The IWF like to dance on the head of a pin, they are happy to let the public think they block access to racist or sexual abuse however when pushed they admit they are only likely to block accidental access. They can't block access to someone determined to find that material - and the same goes for the new sites.

The IWF has always been the thin end of the wedge as far as censorship goes so in years to come expect more of it. baffled
asa logoMatt Cavanagh
Posted: 9 June, 2011 - 7:37 PM
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The Prevent strategy document actually talks about blocking content which is merely 'harmful', as well as unlawful - which clearly expands the scope, as well as introducing a significant degree of subjectivity. See 10.93. I discuss this in my blog: http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/the-staggers/2011/06/strategy-groups-government
asa logogreatletshavenointernet
Posted: 9 June, 2011 - 8:35 PM
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come on i am for child sexual abuse content i evan report these to but honestly why dont ya just Block the whole internet, lets not have the web with you and america your a bunch of control freaks
asa logosentup.custard
Posted: 9 June, 2011 - 10:44 PM
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China, here we come.

Gordon
(Not the Brown variety!)
asa logotimeless
Posted: 10 June, 2011 - 12:18 AM
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wonder how long it will take for unlawful to include sites with information pertaining to these so called super injunctions etc, and everything else the government doesnt agree with.. eventually unlawful will include talking against what parliaments pen pushers think.

after all, if you really think about it this is the first step towards censoring free speech, lm sure some remember the article one politician had an issue against and wanted to be blocked (was an article here not long ago about it).
asa logoSam
Posted: 10 June, 2011 - 3:10 PM
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IWF needs to be made the classic demon of "thin end of the wedge"; the good intention that can't do it's one good well and so does three goods things even more badly.

Give IWF the choice of backing down to it's one good intention or being the public example of good gone wrong.
asa logoDavid Gerard
Posted: 10 June, 2011 - 4:02 PM
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The IWF was invented by the ISPs so that everyone involved could pretend the Internet could be filtered without being China.

As was shown when they blocked Wikipedia, this is only tolerated precisely as long as no-one notices.

Break out the popcorn.
asa logoDan
Posted: 10 June, 2011 - 10:43 PM
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If the content they were blocking was "illegal" then they would not need to block it. Instead they could prosecute.
asa logoRJTENN
Posted: 12 June, 2011 - 2:28 PM
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Just as has happened for the last 50 or so years, again, governments and the apparently scared sometimes sociopaths governing us, are increasingly taking away the rights and liberties of the many to penalize the few.

It is on-going in the U.K, will be speeding up in the EU, and will over-run also the U.S. in due time.
asa logoDann
Posted: 16 June, 2011 - 5:32 PM
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We can either censor everything, or nothing.
There is no middle ground, so take your pick.
asa logoarmageddon
Posted: 19 June, 2011 - 3:34 AM
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Looking after corporate interests why ?
Because some of those in power have vested interests in those big corporate bodies,the crooked madelscum did hence why he made sure that the deb was brought in, The IWF doesn't list things incorrectly, it's the isp and its interpretation of the list they get it wrong and innocent sites end up being blocked, mainly file hosting sites even their homepages sometimes, plans to introduce more censorship should be scrapped,
Some time ago i read an article about what the governments and big corporates had in-store for the inter-webs, basically to make it into a plat form to sell their services from, bye bye to the net as we know it, dictatorship is nearing us all the time,
asa logoseeyouentee
Posted: 24 June, 2011 - 4:38 PM
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Just an excuse for the government to block sites that maybe expose whats really going on in the world today. The government don't like exposure but unfortunately for these parasites , people are beginning to wake up so they are throwing everything but the kitchen sink at the public . The internet is the last bastion for free speech and long may it live for the people .
asa logolasthopeofhumanity
Posted: 25 June, 2011 - 12:25 AM
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OMG we are taking the WRONG lesson from China.

We are running very low on resources everywhere so a focus on population control, like China, would be very wise. Worldwide.

Censoring the internet will just create a civil war in the UK, it's that serious. The intelligent UK public do not respond well to be overtly controlled, and never will.

UK government, don't bother, please. I like our high streets and homes with intact windows and not on fire.



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