Posts Tagged ‘porn’

Network Level Filters Campaign Updates

July 20, 2011

The call for voluntary network level filters capable of blocking pornography continues to grow. In the UK now over 70 MP’s have added their support to the idea, backing the campaign headed by Claire Perry. The adverse impact of pornography on children is becoming increasingly apparent. Also apparent is the increased demand on services offering help to children and young adults who struggle with pornography addictions.

If you want to get involved in this campaign then see SaferMedia for more information and follow Family Safe ISP on FaceBook.

Does Porn Affect Children?

Those who doubt the impact of porn on the brain and body would do well to read Mark B Kastleman‘s book on the subject.  The ProtectKids website provides a further sobering read of the impact of pornography on children. In a review paper Victor C. Straburger et al (Pediatrics March 10, 2010), state that nearly 50% of a sample of 1500 children 10-17 years old had been exposed to pornography, and porn exposure can be linked to earlier engagement in sex. It is also recognized that frequent pornography use among young men and adolescents, “intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault” (Michael Flood, Child Abuse Review 2009). Yet more information on the impact of pornography on children and adults is found in this Mental Health Library review by Victor B Cline.

Network Filtering – A Tool in the Battle

Trying to limit childhood exposure to, and harm cause by, pornography, inevitably requires a multi-pronged approach. Parental involvement with their children is vital, as is the need to inform both parents and their children of the risks.

Various technological tools also exist, the most well know being computer based filters which have been around for years. A new tool in the bag are network filters, which provide a layer of protection for a whole network, or household, in one go. Often the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) resist the idea of network filters. BT talks of Parental Controls, but seems to want to keep network filtering out of the package.

One ISP, TalkTalk, now provides a network level filter as a free, opt-in, service to it’s customers. Called HomeSafe this allow the account holder to set filtering individually for several different categories, as previously described. In the first 6 weeks, over 50,000 TalkTalk customers opted to turn the filters on, showing the demand in the public for this kind of help.

We would like this kind of package to become a standard service provided throughout the ISP industry in the UK. Ideally, these filters should be set to ‘on’ as standard with the user able to turn them off at will. This will probably encourage the most people to engage with the issues of pornography use and it’s potential subsequent effects.

Obviously, no technological system is going to be fail safe. They all let some sites through and they all incorrectly block some innocent ones. They can all be worked around by the determined. But, by supporting the Network Filter Campaign, you can make a difference and see another parental control tool made routinely available for the increased protection of our children.

Bailey Report Recommends Network Filters

June 14, 2011

The recent Bailey Review highlights many different aspects of the sexualisation of children in society today. Entitled Letting Children be Children – Report of an Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood, the review also lays done some suggestions and action points that should be taken up by various industry sectors and government.

Among the areas looked at was internet pornography, so ubiquitous in our society that it is often considered to be part of the ‘Wallpaper’ of children’s lives. Various scientific disciplines are providing a growing body of evidence showing that exposure to pornography is not a harmless pastime. Especially for children.

The Bailey Review had the following to say to the Internet Service Providers, effectively the major distributor of pornography around the UK:

5. Making it easier for parents to block adult and age-restricted material from the internet: To provide a consistent level of protection across all media, as a matter of urgency, the internet industry should ensure that customers make an active choice over what sort of content they want to allow their children to access. To facilitate this, the internet industry must act decisively to develop and introduce effective parental controls, with Government regulation if voluntary action is not forthcoming within a reasonable timescale. In addition, those providing content which is age-restricted, whether by law or company policy, should seek robust means of age verification as well as making it easy for parents to block underage access. ACTION: Internet industry and providers of age restricted content, through UKCCIS.”

Elsewhere in the review a “reasonable timeframe” is defined as 18 months.

As Jane Turner recently noted in the Times newspaper: “..that computers and mobile phones might, as Bailey proposes, come with their porn filter switched to an “on” default is commendable not only because it will stop offensive imagery popping up unbidden, but more importantly because it is a statement of intent: a declaration that the internet is not an anarchic Wild West empire beyond governmental purview.”

The ISPs recognize the need to offer some protection, indeed many offer, or sell, PC based filters as parental control tools. While this is laudable, we would suggest that network level filters, turned on as standard, would provide another very powerful tool at the disposal of parents, as well as encouraging people to engage with the issue should they choose to turn the filter off.

Talk Talk has lead the way, recently launching their Home Safe service. However, it seems not many TalkTalk customers know about it yet, and it is not “on” by default. Perhaps this initiative, along with the Bailey Review recommendations, will encourage the other ISPs to follow suit.

No filter system will be perfect, but this would be another powerful tool within the Parental Control arsenal.

ISP anti-Pornography Fitlers: Easy to Break Them?

March 28, 2011

This is the second in a series of article looking at some of the common technical objections raised whenever people suggest the introduction of anti-pornography filters by all UK-based ISP’s which could then be switched off by the user if desired. The first article looked at the (lack of) impact on internet speeds by these proposed filters. Thanks are once again given to Leigh Porter, a Systems Architect who has worked at UK Broadband for several years who has kindly provided clarification and correction where it was needed.

ISP Level Filters can be Circumnavigated: The argument here is that any ISP level filter will be easily circumnavigated by various methods. These include (1) changing the port used by the computer, (2) using a proxy server, (3) use of SSH Tunnelling and VPN Tunnelling. While changing the port turns out to be irrelevant, the others are also weaknesses used to work around PC based filters as well. We will address these in turn.

1) Computer PortsChanging the port will not affect ISP level filters because the Deep Packet Inspection filters routinely used by ISPs analyze all web traffic regardless of the port being used.

In computer networking / web access, the Port is a bit of software that acts as a gate through which data is sent. For the internet they are used by various ‘Transport Layer’ protocols like TCIP (Transmission Control Protocol) and UDP (User Datagram Protocol) as outlined in this wkipedia article.

Ports are assigned a number, with some port numbers reserved by convention for particular services. Traditionally, Port 80 was reserved for use by the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) used on the web. This is the meaning of ‘http’ seen at the beginning of all web page addresses or URLs.

The argument is that an ISP level filter can simply be bypassed by forcing the computer to use a different port to connect to the web, either by changing various settings on the computer or simply inserting the required port number after the website URL (e.g. sending the request to http://www.mysite.co.uk:4000 would force the use of port 4000 instead of port 80).

Port Changing no Longer Relevant: While that argument was true in the past, the universal use of DPI filters that analyze all traffic regardless of port means this argument is no longer relevant.

2) Proxy Server – The problems of proxy servers applies to the ISP-level anti-pornography filter as well as the PC based parental control. A proxy server acts as an intermediary, or middleman, for requests from, in this case, the home computer to their ISP. The argument is that it is easy to by-pass ISP-level filters by using a proxy.

Proxy servers are actually used by some PC based pornography filters. Here, the users traffic is passed first to the proxy server used by the PC filter company. This checks the request against a blacklist and then allows the data through if cleared. Incoming data is also cleared in a similar way, going through the company’s proxy. OpenDNS is a proxy server system with adjustable filtering built in. The user points traffic to the OpenDNS (proxy) servers that contain adjustable filtering systems.

Proxies are very useful for those in countries that try to restrict web access. An increasingly popular proxy is run by the non-profit Tor Project which passes the encrypted data through 3 different servers before sending it onto the final destination, providing greater anonymity. However, it is easy to see how, just as proxies play useful roles, they can also be used to by-pass filtering systems. Proxies are one way to work around firewalls, filters and parental controls. This is true of both PC base and proposed ISP-level anti-pornography filters.

Some people also use SSL proxy servers, though while encrypting data these tends to be significantly slower. Even then it would be possible to work out the IP addresses of filtered sites and then inspect the SSL encrypted traffic to those sites. Leigh Porter states the ISP would ‘act as a middleman for those sites when they are encrypted thereby decrypting the traffic’. He acknowledges that this would probably not be popular, would be more processor intensive and might slow things down a little, but it is possible to do and implement in a voluntary ISP-level filter system. This extra level of protection is not possible on PC based filters.

Combating the use of Proxies: For both PC based and ISP level filters there are two things that parents can do to reduce the risk of proxy server use. They can (a) set the administration settings to ensure that they are the only ones able to change the various settings required for a computer to use proxy settings (see this Blocking Proxy Servers tutorial) and (b) obtain a blacklist of proxy server URLs (also available from ShallaList) and ensure that access to these domains is blocked within the browsers.

Parents should note that it will also be necessary to prevent users from being able to install another browser which does not contain the list. It is possible to block domains globally for all browsers on Windows OS machines via the HOSTS file within Windows, also described here.

3) SSH Tunnelling and VPN Tunnelling: The more determined user may resort to SSH (Secure Shell) Tunnelling and VPN (Virtual Private Network) Tunnelling to circumvent filters. As explained in this Suite 101 article, this works by ‘one computer initiating an encrypted SSH connection to another. The remote computer has a proxy server installed. All web browser traffic is then configured to go through the encrypted SSH tunnel, thus bypassing all Internet filters.’

As the article suggests, the best way to prevent this is to ensure that all outbound traffic to the Internet other than HTTP (port 80) and HTTPS (port 443) on the computers through the admin settings within the Operating System. You then need to ensure that the other users are not able to change these settings. It is noted that blocking VPN and SSH may cause problems with legitimate services that use these connections. However, SSH servers are not common and most VPN services require credit card payments.

Conclusion: Changing the port will not affect ISP-level filters. Using proxy servers, SSH or VPN Tunnelling are issues that apply to both ISP-level and PC based filters. All require changes to the OS or Browser settings, which can be restricted through admin control levels.

Why ISP-level Anti-Porn Filters will not Slow Down the Web

February 24, 2011

Quite often the same arguments are used by opponents of the introduction of voluntary IP-level filters that would prevent most pornography from coming into the home. These can be divided into technological and ideological arguments. This is the first in a series of articles which will address the concerns, starting with some of the technological points often raised. They are written in consultation with Leigh Porter, a Systems Architect who has worked at UK Broadband for several years who has kindly provided clarification and correction where it was needed.

Network Level Filters will Slow Down the Internet: It is argued by some that ISP-level anti-porn filters would slow down the speed of the web. This may have been true a few years ago, but is not true today as (1) infrastructure and analysis algorithms have improved and (2) only a limited amount of data needs to be filtered.

ISPs routinely use Deep Packet Inspection of all web traffic and data transfer, passing the data through DPI filters. DPI is used, in the US, to comply with Calea requirements. It is also used globally, among other things, to help with network security, enforce service level agreements and preferentially allow normal web traffic through while restricting the bandwidth used by Peer to Peer (P2P) services such as BitTorrent.

Modern DPI filters handle up to 30Gb per second (Gbps)of traffic. A few years ago DPI filters could only cope with up to 10Gbps speeds and DPI filtering could have some impact on network speeds. However, with the introduction of faster filters and better filtering algorithms this is no longer the case. As stated by TechRepublic:

“What makes DPI all the more impressive is that the packet analysis happens in real time, with data stream throughput approaching 20-30 Gb. … With no loss of throughput, ISPs … insert these devices directly in their data streams, forcing all traffic to pass through the devices. Procera, Narus, and Ellacoya are front-runners in development of this technology, having placed equipment throughout the world”

Google already provides SeafeSearch options for Google Search, providing filtering services for all traffic that proceeds through its servers while performing search. Other search engines also provide similar services and there are no reports of such activities slowing down user experience.

In addition, not web traffic will need to be filtered. Pornographic websites must be hosted on a server. All servers have IP addresses, and the filtering would only need to be applied to traffic directed to those servers. Thus, while servers can hold hundreds of websites each, only a relatively small number of servers would need to be monitored.

Added to this is the fact that filtering will only be required for clients who have chosen to have the ISP-level filter turned on. One last point is that the PC level filter, by the very way it works, directing traffic to a proxy that checks a list and then releases the request, is likely to be slower than the ISP-level filter.

Conclusion: It can be confidently stated that ISP-Level filters will not slow down web traffic.

© Peter Watts 2011

Most People in Favour of ISP Anti-Pornography Filters says Poll

February 8, 2011

A recent poll showed that 69% of respondents who expressed an opinion would choose to use a voluntary filter to block pornographic content were such a filter available from their internet service provider.

Carried out by YouGov Plc and funded by TalkTalk on behalf of Safermedia, Claire Perry MP and others, the poll clearly shows that there is a demand for such filters to be made available. The figures are weighted and are representative of all GB adults aged 18.

83% of the people said they thought that seeing pornographic content on the internet was either very, or fairly, damaging to children. 73% thought that the easy availability of extreme pornography on the internet is damaging to society. This indicates that concern about the issue spreads far beyond the concern for children alone.

Probably not surprisingly, women are more likely to use an ISP-level filter than men (77% versus 37%). However, the number of men in favour increases dramatically with age, being lowest in the 18-24 year old group.

This means that nearly 80% of all households in the UK contain at least one member who would be in favour of using ISP-level filters.

Overall, the survey showed that there is concern about the accessibility of pornography on the internet and the impact it has on society. The uptake of ISP-level filters, were they available, would also be quite high.

The benefits to households of these filters are numerous. They would protect the entire household in one go, avoiding the need to manage each individual computer. They would also provide protection for other web-enabled devices (such as TVs and games consoles) which can not currently be monitored by other filters currently available. These filters would also reduce the number of malware attacks from pornographic websites, and increase online security.

The question, then, is whether the ISP industry will respond favourably to these findings or continue to bury it’s collective head in the sand. At least one ISP, TalkTalk, seems to be taking this seriously. They would currently appear to be the most Family Friendly and Family Safe major ISP on the market today.

Follow the developments on FaceBook: Family Safe ISP

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2,051 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 2nd – 3rd February 2011.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

Article © Peter Watts 2011

How You Can Support the ISP-Level Anti-Porn Filter Campaign

January 27, 2011

On the 7 February 2011, Ed Vaizey MP, the Minister for Culture will be meeting the major British Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to discuss the potential of voluntary, ‘opt-in’ filters that would remove pornography from users’ content at the ISP level. There has been growing demand for this service which would provide parents with a powerful, probably most effective, means of monitoring and controlling what comes into the home. It is proposed that the ISP level filters would:

  • Be Voluntary so that people can turn it on or off at will.
  • Be Comprehensive while it is recognized that no system will ever be 100% effective.
  • Be Dynamic learning and catching more adult content to over time.
  • Be Flexible allowing account holders to turn off and on, even set ‘watershed times’ if required and potentially have specific URL and domain management.
  • Protect Better than current PC filters, which are easily worked around, both from exposure to pornography and the malware that often comes from these sites.
  • Cover New Devices such as web-enabled TVs, blu-ray players, games consoles etc which can not currently be protected in another way.

Support for this Urgently Needed NOW – If you would like to see these voluntary filters become a reality, then you can help by doing the following things:

  1. Send an Email to Ed Vaizey either copy the Ed Vaizey ISP Filter Email text below and emailing it vaizeye@parliament.uk or click on this Send Email to Ed Vaizey link which will open the email in Outlook with all the info put in there, you just need to add your name etc to the bottom)
  2. Send an Email to Your MP by simply copying the MP ISP Filter Email text below and emailing to your MP, which you can find on http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/
  3. Contact your Councilor using a variation of the MP ISP Filer Email, pointing out the benefit to protecting schools, libraries, youth centre etc.
  4. Support Family Safe ISP on FaceBook by visiting the Family Safe ISP FaceBook page, ‘Like’ it and then share with friends.
  5. Contact Your ISP and ask them to introduce ISP-level filtering. Suggest you may move to another provider that does so.
  6. Donate to Safermedia, who are spearheading a campaign for this (you can contact them on office@safermedia.org) or through the Safermedia Facebook page.
  7. Spread the Message, link to this blog, tweet this blog, tell you friends, write to your local paper, inform your church/mosque etc, spread the word.

Ed Vaizey ISP Filter Email Copy and amend as required:

Dear Mr Vaizey,

Thank you for your efforts in arranging a meeting with internet service providers to discuss how the industry can better support parents and help them ensure that their children cannot access pornography.

Research clearly indicates that viewing pornography leads to an acceptance of violent and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships, where the objectification of women and aggressive sexual behaviour are the norm.

That is why I strongly support your initiative, suggested by Claire Perry MP, to switch the default setting for internet pornography into our homes  to ‘off’, and implement an ‘opt-in’ system.  I urge you to promote it as robustly as possible at your forthcoming roundtable with the ISPs in February.

Yours sincerely,

Name:

Address:

Organisation (if appropriate):

 

MP ISP Filter Email Copy and amend as required:

Dear [INSERT MP NAME],

As you may be aware, on the 7 February 2011, Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture is meeting with internet service providers to discuss how the industry can better support parents and help them ensure that their children cannot access pornography.

Research clearly indicates that viewing pornography leads to an acceptance of violent and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships, where the objectification of women and aggressive sexual behaviour are the norm.

I urge you to lend your support to this initiative, suggested by Claire Perry MP, to switch the default setting for internet pornography into our homes  to ‘off’, and implement an ‘opt-in’ system.  I urge you to promote it as robustly as possible within parliament and support any legislation as may be required to provide us with this most useful tool to protect our homes and children should the ISPs be unwilling to implement such filters otherwise.

Yours sincerely,

Name:

Address:

Organisation (if appropriate):

 

Support for those Struggling – Anyone who struggles with pornography may be able to find help through the following sources:

  1. Send an email to Ed Vaizey by simply copying the Ed Vaizey ISP Filter Email text below and emailing it to vaizeye@parliament.uk

ISP Level anti-porn Filters – The Arguments

January 21, 2011

In the past few months the debate around filtering of porn and adult material on the internet has once again raised it’s head in the UK. Quite often the same, standard arguments are put forward by those that oppose the idea. These arguments are increasingly being found wanting, and there is a growing demand for a Family Safe ISP service, asking that all internent service providers give the voluntary ability for account holders to choose to have pornography filtered before it even gets into the home.

In December 2010, Claire Perry MP led a debate in parliament on the issue (which can be viewed here). This was picked up by the press, with the Sunday Times carrying a front page article in the paper and a large article in their Sunday Times Magazine. Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, is expected be holding a round-table meeting with the major UK internet service providers early in 2011.

So, why are people asking for this? The internet has changed dramatically since it was first founded. Not only that, there are now a plethora of web-enabled devices floating around the home. Gone are the days when a single, expensive PC took central place in the home connected to slow dialup.

Today, scattered around the home, are various computers and laptops as well as web-enabled phones, games consoles, blu-ray players etc. In addition there is a growing body of evidence, that children are becoming exposed to porn at an increasingly younger age (often as young as 11) and that this exposure can have a detrimental effect on their health, as described  in the UK Governments’ Sexualisation of Young People report in 2010.

It has also been noted that many porn sites are run by criminal organisations and that porn sites are often linked to cyber attacks. An ISP level filter could therefore also help increase computer security and reduce malicious computer attacks.

So with this in mind, more people are asking for the ability to block porn before it even gets into the home. And here are the arguments around the issue:

Censorship

  • Against: An ISP level filter amounts to censorship of web content, a denial of freedom of expression and is the first part of the UK governments attempt to gain control of the web. Any censorship of the web of any kind should always be resisted.
  • For: The ISP level filter would be voluntary. Each customer would be able to choose to have it switched on or off at will. Therefore this is not censorship, but self regulated control. It is not restricting access to porn of freedom of expression to those who still want it. As a voluntary option, it is not controlled by the government.

On a separate note on censorship, the ISPs are required, by law, to filter out child pornography where possible. This is blanket censorship of such material, but few people are likely to object.

Impractical

  • Against: The technology does not exist and it is not possible to do.
  • For: Many mobile phone companies already have such filters on web enabled phones (see article). If it is possible for mobile phones then surely it should be possible for ISPs. In addition, other industries have managed this to some degree. Examples include Google with their SafeSearch options, filtering every single search. Various companies offer PC based filters. Surely these technologies can be adapted to use at the ISP level. TalkTalk are interested in the idea, so they obviously think it is possible.

It Can Not be Perfect

  • Against: An ISP level filter can never be designed to catch everything, and therefore should not be done. Hundreds of new porn sites appear daily, and no filter can keep up.
  • For: Perfection is not being demanded, but an ISP level filter can catch most of the sites. Also, a way of reporting new sites can be built in allowing the public to continue to add to the database.

It is the Parents Responsibility

  • Against: It is up to the parents to control and monitor what their children see on their computers. The ISPs are only the gate through which material flows, and should not take on the job of gate-keeper.
  • For: Having the ability to control at one point all the porn that comes into a home is the best tool a parent could have to execute that responsibility. There are now too many devices in the home to manage individually, and the optional ISP level filter would be a powerful tool to help do the job.

PC Filters are Already Available

  • Against: There are already tools available that do this so there is no need for ISP level filters.
  • For: PC level filters are often easily worked around. The time taken to manage each computer in the home is becoming increasingly burdensome. The filters can not keep up with new web-enabled devices. The ISP level filter would be a better and more useful tool.

ISPs also quote issues of cost. However, they could adopt a business model similar to the Cable / Satellite TV companies, who charge clients for access to adult content.

Another point worth bearing in mind, the cost of applying the filters now would have to be much less than that of fighting off court cases later where adults then try to sue the ISPs for exposure to porn as a child, which the ISP could have prevented but chose not to, that the adult claim has had an adverse impact on their health and life. This may seem far fetched, but, as with cigarettes, a class action in the future is, I suspect, more than just a mere possibility.

The last argument recently voiced is that men would be against this as the ISP level filter would block their own access to porn in the home. I doubt, however, that most men oppose it when their wives and partners say ‘Honey, I want us to activate this ISP anti-porn filter to protect our children.’

Obviously, the application of ISP level filters has application outside the home, and could also be a useful tool in public spaces, like libraries and schools, that also have to fight porn off the computers.

For more links to various articles, see the Family Safe ISP page on FaceBook.

(Article by Peter Watts)

ISP Level Filters – Give Parents the Tools

January 19, 2011

In England there is a growing demand for filters to be provided by internet service providers (ISPs) to allow customers to block porn and adult websites before they even get into the home (the Family Safe ISP). While one ISP (TalkTalk) has responded with some favour to the idea, the other major ISPs currently seemed to be opposed on the grounds that it is up to the parents to control and monitor what their children are seeing.

We agree. It is. However, given that:

  1. Monitoring and filtering each web-enabled device individually in the home is very time consuming;
  2. Computer based filters are often worked around by tech savy children;
  3. Parents just do not have the time to and resources to keep an eye on the multiple PCs, web enabled phones, game consoles etc that exist within a household;
  4. Commercial filters are not currently available or can keep up with the multiplication of web enabled devices;

It is becoming increasingly obvious that a one-stop ISP level filter would probably be the best tool for the job.

So, the ISP’s say it is the parents responsibility to take parental control.

We Agree! So when will the ISPs give us voluntary ISP level filters so we have the best tools to fulfil our responsibility?

We are asking the ISPs to help us, yet they seem to refuse to do so. Maybe it needs legislation, maybe it needs just one to be ‘brave’ and then have a marketing edge on being the Family Friendly ISP for a short time.

Or maybe the ISPs need to consider 10 years down the line. It would not be too surprising to then see someone sue the ISPs for the damage they suffered through inadvertent exposure to porn as a child which the ISPs were able to help filter out, but choose not to do so…. Maybe some shareholders might have a view on whether spending money now on ISP filter is better than possibly spending a lot more later on court cases.

Follow the debate:Family Safe ISP Facebook Page

ISP Level Porn Filters – The Best Protection

December 20, 2010

Recent articles in both the Daily Mail and Sunday Times in the UK have taken another look at the impact of pornography on children and it’s prevalence in society today. There is now clear evidence that exposure to porn changes the way we view each other, what we expect out of relationship and how we approach sex. On the whole, much of the evidence suggests that the results are mostly detrimental.

However, to date we have been put in the position of having to fight this material out of our homes. The responsibility been on monitoring computer use in the home, applying filters etc on computers and keeping an eye on what is being looked at.

But why should this burden be pushed upon us? Is it possible to ask for control over what the internet service provider (ISP) pumps into our homes in the first place? We all know that access to porn is but a few clicks away, and filters can all be worked around.

So, what can we do? Industry and parliament will only sit up and take notice if we keep demanding it. Let us not wait until a tragic, and horrific death, caused by a child who has watched porn, shocks and shames us to take action. Let us do so now. You can:

  • Contact and register with SaferMedia and join their campaign, and follow them on their blog.
  • Write to your MP.
  • Follow Family Safe ISP on Facebook and share with your friends.
  • Tweet this blog, share it on Facebook or link to it.
  • Write a letter to your paper. Recent articles have appeared in both the Daily Mail and Sunday Times newspapers.

The usual objections raised include restriction of freedom of expression, cost and technological capability. Well, lets have a look at these:

Freedom of Expression – I suggest that ISP level filters are applied as ‘on’ as standard, and that the account holder is able to request the filter to be turned off if they wish. This then does not infringe on freedom of expression at all, and should therefore not be objected to by the industry or civil groups. Indeed, they should support it as a more effective way of protecting children. The ISP level filter could even include the ability to manage specific websites / URLs, much as PC based filters currently do, and could even have a watershed time option built in.

Technological – BT and other UK based ISP are already required to filter out child pornography websites. BT does this using it’s CleanFeed filter. Therefore, it is possible to apply ISP level filters. The technology already exists. It just needs extending and adding a little flexibility to give the account holder control over the content allowed through. PC based filters like SafeEyes already give URL specific filtering options, so to suggest this can not be done is illogical.

Cost – This, then, is the last complaint. Well, it would be easy to apply an ‘on’ as standard and then charge the customer to be able to either manage the filter or have it removed. This is what what happens to sex channels on TV, why not the internet too? It would cover the cost of the filter.

The reality is that ISP level filters are possible, already applied in the UK for some things. The costs can be recouped by charging for access to the mature content. It is the safest way of protecting children and allow control of what comes into our homes (bar not having internet at all).

Blocking Porn on Mobile Phones

June 23, 2010

I have recently been discussing with a few friends the issue of access to porn and other adult content on mobile phones. It has recently been noted in the UK that children as young as 11 are routinely exposed to and accessing Adult content on their phones.

This has been a growing concern, and, thankfully, some mobile phone companies are beginning to take notice. The most responsible block all adult content by default until the user has (a) proved that they are over 18 and (b) asked for the block to be removed.

This is definitely the way things should go, as it is both the most secure way of protecting minors while making exposure an opt-in one if the user so chooses.

Who Blocks As Standard: A quick search on websites shows that the information is not always easy to find, but what seems apparent is:

  • T-Mobile – blocks all adult content as standard, user proves age and applies for block to be removed.
  • 3 – blocks all adult content as standard, user proves age and applies for block to be removed.
  • Talk-Mobile – blocks all adult content as standard, user proves age and applies for block to be removed.
  • O2 – blocks all adult content as standard, user proves age and applies for block to be removed.
  • Vodaphone – blocks as standard where the age of the user is unknown. No indication of whether someone buying with a credit card is offered this block on their phone as standard.
  • Orange – No Information
  • Virgin – No Information

Fuller information is given below:

Vodaphone: Provides Content Control which is applied automatically to all phones where the age of the user can not be determined. The block can be removed if the user can confirm they are over 18. It is not clear if the block is automatically applied if you buy a new service or phone with a credit card.

  • blocks 18-rated content and services which includes premium rate picture messaging, premium rate picture messaging, chat and dating services, erotica, gambling and betting and violent games.

T Mobile: Provides Content Lock automatically to all pay as you go and pay monthly mobiles. It blocks all adult content until you  prove that you’re over 18 by a credit card or by a name and address check through a credit reference agency. You can then request the removal of the block.

  • Blocks unmoderated social networking sites and chatrooms, sites with persistent bad language, visual material of a sexual nature, horror and extreme violence.

Talk Mobile: Adult Content Restriction as standard on all their Pay As You Go, Prepay, World, Pay Monthly, SIMple and Control plans. The block is removed by paying a fee via a credit card to verify age. The restriction is then removed. There is no indication as to whether the restriction can be applied again. The site does not give any information about type of content blocked or what blocker is used.

Three (3): Applies Adult Filter as standard to all mobile phones. The user must prove they are over 18 and then are given a security pin to allow access to the content.

  • Blocks nudity, unacceptable violence, racism, and websites that could expose you (or their network) to hacking, phishing and other harmful content.

O2: Applies Parental Control as standard, limiting web content to that deemed suitable to a 12 year old. It seems a fee is applied every time the Parental Controls are activated or deactivated.

Virgin Mobile: At date of writing I could find no information on the Virgin Mobile site about blocking Adult content etc on phones.

Orange: At date of writing I could find no information on the Orange site about blocking Adult content etc on phones.

So that is mobile phones story. It would be very neat if ISP’s applied the same options to services they offer from their end. The technology is there.


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