David Cameron's Orwellian porn filter will not work

I was going to write a long rant about the proposed mandatory web porn filtering being imposed on ISPs by the government, but I just can’t be bothered really, what’s the point, so I’ll just bullet point some of my thoughts on the subject:

  • Most disturbingly: This will create a voluntary registry of 'offenders to-be', it may be possible to find out who has and has not opted into these filters, this includes neighbours, police, employers and the press (remember the phone hacking scandal?)
  • What about multi-occupancy shared Internet connections? Flats, student residencies, etc
  • What is porn? Quite an obvious question that hasn't been answered. No one seems to be able to define what needs to be blocked, terms like 'extreme porn' are pretty meaningless, to some straight penetrative intercourse may be considered 'extreme'
  • Disturbingly, the filter isn't just for porn, anything the government object to will be filtered, it's possible this could be used to block websites of political parties or controversial blogs. We'll end up with an official, government-sanitised version of the web like they have in China
  • Many people involved in this 'filth filter' are breathtakingly technologically illiterate, including people like MP Claire Perry whose website was hacked by hackers opposed to web filtering
  • What sites are blocked, for example, Reddit has pornography subreddits, but doesn't host any porn images, are linking sites also blocked, or just the hosting sites? Do any of the people proposing this filter even know the difference?
  • Is Page 3 porn? Is the Mail Online's infamous 'Sidebar of Shame' considered porn?
  • Who decides what I can and can't see online? This will create a 21st century BBFC for the Internet, and like the BBFC they will be unelected and unaccountable
  • I get the feeling that the readership of said Sun and DM believe there is this 'conspiracy' of the 'service providers' against them, especially in the wake of the tax-evading issue. It's as if they believe when they say 'the filters won't work' what they really means is they want to eat your babies and they're in on the great pedo conspiracy. No, they're not, they are technologically competent people who know the difference between reality and this 1984/Bladerunner vison of the Internet that some seem to have
  • The term 'service provider' seems to be used a lot, but ambiguously. Some articles have referred to Google as a service provider, when the term is normally used for companies that actually connect you to the Internet such as BT, AOL or Virgin. If I run a website, does that mean I am a service provider? Who knows.
  • The filters won't work, they'll be easily circumvented
  • The filters will cause false positives, sex education websites, etc will be blocked (Google Penistone and Scunthorpe substring filtering)
  • The filters will cause major disruption to legitimate services; remember the shadowy 'IWF' blocking Wikipedia.org over an ancient obscure album cover by Scorpions they decided they didn't like? The image was inevitably seen by thousands in a subsequent case of the Streisand Effect
  • The filters will result in some sites being vulnerable to denial of service or trolling using the filters against them, for example posting certain keywords on a website causing it to be blocked, thereby silencing any dissent or opposing views. Anyone trying to access these 'poisoned' sites may be flagged for investigation
  • That's another thing, keyword search filtering, we know there will be a secret list of banned keywords that you can't use on search engines. However, we don't know what these keywords are and who made the list. That hurts my brain just thinking about that.
  • Again, trolling and using the filters against others. I could create a concealed hyperlink using a URL shortener such as TinyURL containing banned search terms, I could then redirect 1 or 1000 people to that URL thereby potentially flagging them for police investigation
  • Reading some articles and watching some news reports, people seem to be confusing the search engines and the content of the web. Search engines only link to websites, they don't host the images or other content. Google seems to be taking most flack for this, some people just don't seem to understand how search engines work
  • Some people don't seem to understand how websites and hosting works, if you're on the Internet at a PC you have the capability to easily host a website, I myself run numerous websites, the government, or Google for that matter have no access to. Again, reading some articles it seems people don't realise that and only an elite few run websites, in reality anyone can, that 's what makes the web so great, free and open, the way it should be. There are no licences to host content, no control or regulation of the press on here, the Internet was specifically designed to be de-centralised, difficult to attack or disrupt, the Web to be a free and open platform of content and ideas free from international boundaries
  • This may impact on the rights and freedom of citizens of other countries, what about porn traffic going through the UK? It's very difficult to geographically restrict the Internet, in the cloud there are no borders
  • What about other Internet technologies? P2P, IRC, FTP, Tor, Newsgroups, will they be filtered? Probably not, in contrast to the Web they're pretty obscure technologies, mainly unheard of in the mainstream media, if the filters are imposed this will just drive the tech-savvy pervs deeper into the 'dark net' away from the much cleaner and regulated World Wide Web
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly - Parents, how about doing some fucking parenting?!

The list can go on and on, it just goes to show how dangerous short-sighted, knee-jerk schemes like this can be especially ones that seem designed to appease the foaming-mouthed Daily Mail and Sun readers. Right, got all that off my chest, at least.