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Google and Bing Help Children to Bypass UK ISP Based Adult Website Blocks

Friday, June 29th, 2012 (8:42 am) - Score 4,937
bing ban this filth uk

As the UK government consults on whether or not to force broadband ISPs into imposing default censorship of adult websites (here), it’s worth remembering just how ineffective such measures can be. One of the biggest problems is with internet search engines, such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing, which often maintain cached copies of related images and sometimes even videos.

Unfortunately all that it takes to bypass such censorship, even on ISPs like TalkTalk, is for a child to simply click off the search engines content filter. That should be a no-brainer for most kids, especially since few parents will have bothered to setup an account and even then you only have to swap web browsers, enable privacy mode or clear some cookies to avoid it.

google uk adult content

On top of that there are multiple other ways to circumvent the skin-deep level of blocking imposed by ISPs, which future generations will now surely educate themselves about and thus risk turning the current efforts into a waste of time. We exposed many these problems in our recent article – How to Keep Your Data Private and Browse the Internet Anonymously .

Even TalkTalk has now admitted, in a comment to PCPro, that such filtering is far from perfect. The ISPs HomeSafe solution, which is often praised by the government and mistakenly called the only network-level solution (actually quite a few filters can work at the network-level, such as the free OpenDNS), has been in the news before for failing to do its job properly (here).

HomeSafe’s blocking, like similar services, is often also wildly inconsistent; the option to restrict Social Network access affects Facebook and Twitter but not Google+ and many other sites. But none of these problems are unique to a single ISP.

A TalkTalk Spokesperson said:

No security solution, whether online or in the real world, is ever 100% fail safe and unfortunately there will always be a way of bypassing these systems, be it a parental control service (including those that are installed on individual computers) or a lock on our front door. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t use them – they make a significant contribution to protecting ourselves and our families.

Furthermore, most young children do not seek out pornography and violence online but, as many parents know, they may stumble across it inadvertently. Determined seekers of online porn are one thing; an eight year old doing his or her homework online is another. We are continually working to evolve and improve HomeSafe and have a mechanism for parents to feedback to us. But, for the 430,000 customers who are already using HomeSafe today, it is a simple and effective way of helping to protect their children online.”

Most young children do not seek out porn? Well granted, most under a certain age probably wouldn’t but once you reach the pre-teen / early teens and you’re a boy.. well.. good luck stopping that. How quickly some people forget their own youth.

Now you might ask, why don’t ISPs just block this content on Google etc. too? Well for one thing it’s very difficult to block the dynamically generated links of a search engine, which change all the time, and in the process an ISP could easily break access to the whole of a search engine and its mass of related/vital services. Hardly a wise move. The only real solution here so not to go online, which still leaves the TV as a problem.. better disconnect that too, and then there’s.. you get the idea.

The long and short of this is that, whatever the government decides, it needs to maintain an ‘optional’ stance (not opted-in by default) towards filters and parents must continue to remember that there is no substitute for good parenting. Thankfully the vast majority of parents, in our experience, already know this and do an excellent job. Somebody should probably tell the government.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar Deduction

    You dont even have to turn the content filtering in google images off, just be creative with words it blocks…… Instead of typing say “tits” which with safe mode on blocks the search, just type “breast” and half the image results are the same LOL

  2. Avatar Deduction

    Want to know how dumb the filter is on google images?

    Type “pussy” with it set to strict filtering…… Refuses to search at all. Poor kittys 🙁

    Type it again with moderate the images get a little naughty, but you get the odd cat one. hooray.

    Type it again with it set to off…….. Not a single image of a cat LOL

  3. Avatar Anna

    One thing you can do is to make some safe search internet engine as home page. My kids use http://search.kidoos.org. It works on all browser and it’s based on google search but with more filters.

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