Filtering Out The Bad Stuff Isn’t That Easy

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The British government wants Internet Service Providers to automatically block access to pornography on the Internet so users will have to request, or will be asked at the outset whether to filter or not.

I find it hard to decide whether this is a victory for lazy parents or a very naive and uninformed awareness of how ineffective this will be and how the technology actually works and how easy it will be to bypass and how fast the Internet will adapt and innovate new methods to enable easy access again.

Much filtering is very crude and ends up blocking legitimate sites along with the undesirable. Schools know this. Filters can be set to block a large percentage of flesh colouration in an image and so many fine art masterpieces are also blocked. Keyword blocking meant in one school that searches for Mars Explorer were blocked because it contains the words arse and sex.

I’m not an advocate for easy access to pornography for the very young but I have to be slightly worried when governments start trying to censor things. Will we block stations like Babestation on free to air digital TV? Or is that mere titillation (as it were)? Will we block highly sexualised pop videos?

Cameron wants a pop up to appear when we’re accessing illegal content? Don’t most people block pop ups these days? There’s illegal and there’s undesirable. There’s smart ways of doing things and crude ways. Deciding what we can and can’t access is open to all kinds of future abuse. Better parents are given the tools to exercise control than a one size fits all nanny state solution.

We’re not a very open nation when it comes to sex and I can’t see this helping.

Australia went down this road and abandoned the idea as impractical. The time to act on this has long passed. Apathy, indifference,laziness, and and a sexualised media put pay to that. Protecting children from what they have access to online at a young age won’t be easily solved by crude and naive measures such as this sadly.

The last word should go to the media giant that are taking credit for campaigning hard on this. A better visual definition of hypocrisy would be harder to find.

Image (Mars Internet Explorer) by chengings under this creative commons licence

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