Britain's "Great Firewall" set to restrict access to Wikipedia

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80 Responses to “Britain's "Great Firewall" set to restrict access to Wikipedia”

  1. Ugly Canuck says:

    What I find curious is that the possession of “child porn” was not even a crime in Canada until the dying Mulroney gov. made it so in 1989.
    And that without such a Law there would be zero gov justification for broad monitoring/control of the content of the ‘net.
    That change in the Law was aimed not at pedos but at the freedom of the internet from state surveillance, I think.
    Tyranny – knowing in detail what info the peasants are getting…..oh but we are after pedos so it’s ok…

  2. MCG says:

    Well, on the upside, this gives me an excellent pretext to end my Virginmedia contract early. Plus it will temporarily choke the anonymous vandalising of Wiki pages.

  3. PaulT says:

    @imipak #16:

    “Blocking access to child porn is tyranny?”

    We could argue that another day when child porn is blocked.

    The image blocked in this case is *not* child porn. It’s an image of questionable taste for sure, but one that was available on the sleeves of vinyl records in many countries with no problems. It’s posted on an article that covers the historical fact of the sleeve’s controversy at the time of release, and therefore perfectly acceptable within its context on Wikipedia.

    The tyranny is in blocking access to historical material, based purely on someone’s subjective opinion as to whether or not it’s morally objectionable by modern standards. That’s unacceptable to any intelligent person.

  4. imipak says:

    #18, KanedaJones: I think you need to re-read my comment; you seem to have missed some of my points.

    In #19 you appear to be advocating decriminalising posession of any child porn images at all. I’d kind of assumed there’d be a straightforward consensus that straightforward images of sexual abuse should be illegal. I support quite a few organisations that campaign for civil liberties, including online free speech issues. None of them would take this line, and I’d withdraw support for any that do. Are you really advocating that or do I misunderstand you?

    #22, PaulT:

    > The image blocked in this case is *not* child
    > porn. It’s an image of questionable taste for
    > sure, but one that was available on the sleeves
    > of vinyl records in many countries with no
    > problems.
    >

    Is it not? Who get to make that call?

    > The tyranny is in blocking access to historical
    > material, based purely on someone’s subjective > opinion as to whether or not it’s morally
    > objectionable by modern standards.
    >

    It’s not subjective; there are objective criteria used to define “child porn” that are used by the IWF, police and other agencies. If you deny any means to achieve a consensus on what images are illegal, you end up trying to support decriminalisation of child porn, which is clearly an insupportable position and presumably isn’t what you intended.

    The reason this case is interesting is that the images are in the lower end of the scale. That album cover could be reasonably be called a “provocative pose” so it’s at least one step up (or down?) from the innocent paddling pool snaps.

    It’s the gray area where the discussion gets interesting. Does an innocuous image of a naked child playing in a paddling pool, which I assert should not be a criminal offence when sitting in my Mum’s photo albums, can reasonably be decided to be an offence when, say, it turns up along with huge numbers of similar images and stuff that is straightforwardly the rape or sexual abuse of children on Gary Glitter’s PC. That is the position of the law in the UK as I understand it (though IANAL) and in general I agree with that principle. That said, I’m not defending egregious activities like Virgin advertising null routes for wikipedia.org to it’s transit customers.

    There seems to be some confusion about the purpose of the law. It’s not intended to criminalise chld sexual abuse – that’s already illegal of course – but the act of getting sexual gratification from pictures of children. Reductio ad absurdam, that would seem to criminalise all pictures or graphical representation of children in any context. Obviously that’s not the case or the intention of the law; it comes down to the “reasonable opinion”, ultimately of a jury. That may be an imperfect way to decide community standards on such things, but it’s the least worst of any of the alternatives.

    I wonder what Wikipedia would do if the IWF *does* take the line that, if they refuse to remove those images, that the whole domain SHOULD be blocked by UK ISPs? Come to that, I wonder what the popular response would be?

    Disregarding the argument that “if it was published in the past, it must be OK” as self-evidentally nonsensical, it comes down to who’s definition you accept. The IWF ain’t perfect, but as I said, that’s an implementation detail.

  5. Ugly Canuck says:

    “self-evidently non-sensical”: any other types of information come to mind, the possession of which has been criminalized?
    I also note that “obtaining sexual gratification” is not a necessary part of the case the prosecutor has to make to ground…40 years in jail for these offenses.
    Do you remember the best-seller “Show Me”? How long should the tens of thousands who owned that book now serve in prison in order for justice to be served?

  6. growf says:

    Does anyone know of a current list of ISPs in the UK that do not perform any content filtering?

  7. Nephlabobo says:

    Still think it’s better to live in the U.K., Cory?

  8. js7a says:

    Just in case this is leading up to a backlash of hot, British, loli wikipe-tan cosplayers, RSVP here in comments if you can meet up January 2nd in Los Angeles

  9. KanedaJones says:

    I took a while to come back to this and at first thought I would have to answer alot of people’s comments but it turns out once again enough inteligent people around here to say the same thing that was on my mind.

    I feel obsolete :)

    although there is this: child abuse is when the child suffers physical or mental damage of any degree. Child exploitation is horrible and should be prevented but exploitation and abuse are not the same. imipak, you use the word abuse alot for pictures of naked children. sometimes the only person causing a child damage over a nude photo taken of them is the person screaming from the roof tops what a poor victim they are.

    that being said, I for one agree with antinous (#62) people appear to spend more time chasing the supporters of crime than the actual criminals.

    although part of that is the fact they think they’ll scare away a potential customer base which will in turn take all the money making initative out of it for the producers. I admit there are pay sites as evidence by some of the more high profile busts out there, but there are those who trade because of their like mindedness as horrible as that might be.

    Also, I realize its quite tangental, but there are always laws that exist that cover the bad activities one might do, but yet those laws are seen as not aplicible to the computer versions of same said crimes.. leading to new micro focused internet versions of laws.

    if I see a yet another thing labeled ‘Cyber’ like bullying I will freak (like I did the last time I saw sumthin like that heh)

    there are obsenity laws and anti child abuse laws in place. inforce them before inventing other laws that have a wide net, catching law abiders as well as the law breakers.

    people USED to believe it is better to let an guilty man go free than to imprison a man wrongfully.. now this world believes its not too bad if a few innocent people get a raw deal – odds are it won’t be me.

    sorry for being all over the place, and sorry for not being more involved in this conversation.. I just find we can talk in circles about this for years if we try.

  10. Narmitaj says:

    Anarki @ 17 – I am on Demon and I can get to the page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer OK, complete with a thumbnail of the album cover. However, clicking on the thumbnail brings up Demon page http://iwfwebfilter.thus.net/error/blocked.html with the following info:

    Demon
    Page Error!
    Access Denied (403)

    We have blocked this page because, according to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), it contains indecent images of children or pointers to them; you could be breaking UK law if you viewed the page.

    What To Do

    If you were directed to this site by an email or another site, then you should consider reporting the email or site to the Internet Watch Foundation. Visit their web site (http://www.iwf.org.uk) for details about how to do this.

    This blocking service is provided solely for the protection of our customers. We have not recorded that you attempted to visit this site, nor will we be taking any further action. You can find more information about the IWF list of URLs to block here: http://www.iwf.org.uk/public/page.148.htm.

    Demon is a brand of THUS plc

  11. imipak says:

    #24, UglyCanuck: what I described as “self-evidently nonsensical” was the notion that “anything published in the past must ip facto be OK today”. Do you disagree?

    Put another way – which principle is stronger, the right of a society to collectively decide what on unacceptable behaviour, or the individual’s right to freedom?

    Most states have laws about possession of classified material on national security grounds, which seem rational in principle. Otherwise no, I can’t think of any other information that is or should be criminalised, though I guess there may be corner cases.

    Disclosure — I work in infosec, and routinely use tools and utilities that could be described as “dual use”, including programs written for the sole purpose of breaking into systems (“exploits”) . I’m well aware of the spurious reasoning that tries to suppress such things, and I don’t buy it. I’ve no problem with “Anarchist Cookbook”, “Kiddies Guide To Hacking”, atom bomb blueprints, material advocating revolution and so forth being in the public domain. Knowledge is a Good Thing, publishing it is a Good Thing, and censorship is Bad in all but the most exceptional circumstances. (There are other corner cases like “making threats to kill”, “incitement to racial hatred” and so forth, which are separately criminalised; strangely there’s no civil rights argument for repealing those laws, though.) Your freedoms end where your fist reaches my nose, or the collective noses of society in general.

    IMO the material that you, I, or anyone else uses to get their rocks off is none of anyone else’s business, except where other parties are injured by it, as is the case in straight-forward abuse images. It seems the unspoken assumption around child porn where the images are NOT straightforwardly abusive, as is presumably the case here, is that a paedophile using such images for sexual gratification is likely to lead to actual abuse in the future.

    A philosophy 101 question: if it were possible to guarantee that no-one possessing it would ever go on to abuse an actual child, should material that does not actually depict abuse be legal in principle? Indeed, what of material that DOES depict actual abuse in that case? The argument that “it’s to prevent further harm in future” would no longer be available. I’m not sure but I think that in that entirely theoretical event, I would no longer be in favour of criminalising child porn… though I reserve my right to change my mind. I’m a Lib Dem :) )

    The UK recently passed a law criminalising “extreme pornography”, defined as realistic depictions of extreme violence, necrophilia and bestiality. (See the long list of related stories at the bottom of the Reg page there.) I think this was a well-intentioned but ultimately bad law. A man who raped and murdered a woman was reported to have been obsessed with that type of porn, and this law came about as a result of publicity and I think a campaign by the victim’s mother. (I don’t know how true the claim was, and I’m not familiar with the academic literature on the subject.) Would I be right to guess you’d be against legal restrictions on depictions of rape? How about images of actual rape? If so, should it also be OK for convicted rapists in prison to have such material?

    Sorry I’m being so long-winded today BTW… blame it on the Bombay Sapphire *)

  12. zuzu says:

    Exposing the secret lists of censorware is exactly the content Bennett Haselton used to found Peacefire.org in 1996.

    What’s old is new again, it seems.

  13. Ugly Canuck says:

    I judge laws by their effects, not their intentions…these anti-possession laws limit your freedom to the prosecutors’ discretion & will, and as “possession offenses”, they are prone to all the other injustices possession offenses generate. Easy to get convictions, too.
    These laws put a cop in every computer, and the state at every internet gateway.
    The evil under attack is not worth the cost of enforcement in dollars or in freedom.
    Go after those beasts who actually abuse children in the satisfaction of their base and unnatural lusts. Absolutely.
    But putting a cop in every computer is too high a price to pay.
    The same arguments if advanced prior to the internet would have given the state the right to inspect all papers whatsoever at any time.
    “To prevent sexual gratification…”. Indeed. A worthy use of the Criminal Law and State resources!
    “To protect children.” That’s the only justification. Howsabout increasing anti-poverty spending to protect kids, rather than paying cops for surfing the Net ogling porn, deciding which examples “cross their line”? And having the tools to see what anybody’s looking at, anytime.
    The shoulder-surfing State. To be avoided at any cost, I think.

  14. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    IMIPAK – The laws against unauthorized possession or dissemination of classified information are federal, not state, as the information is federal property.

    Information is all about how you use it. Some information has great potential for misuse.

    Hacking utilities, bomb plans, even hate literature… If all you’re doing is collecting or researching it, you’re not causing any harm with it (quite the opposite, all of those things are very useful intelligence if you’re on the white hat side of the equation)

  15. PaulT says:

    @imipak: “Is it not? Who get to make that call?”

    I would say that the picture is not pornographic, and therefore not child porn. Either way, the call should be with relevant courts and legal authorities, not an ISP or a 3rd party advisor.

    “It’s not subjective”

    “The reason this case is interesting is that the images are in the lower end of the scale. That album cover could be reasonably be called a “provocative pose” so it’s at least one step up (or down?) from the innocent paddling pool snaps.”

    “Obviously that’s not the case or the intention of the law; it comes down to the “reasonable opinion”, ultimately of a jury”

    You may have contradicted yourself there. If it’s not subjective, why would the opinion of a jury matter? If it’s not subjective, how can there be a “scale” on which to judge it? Again, it’s of questionable taste but on its own merits no worse than other images that aren’t being blocked on Wikipedia or elsewhere.

    Now, I’m at work so don’t want to start Googling the exact IWF and legal statutes that cover child porn. I maintain that the context of the photograph in the article justifies its inclusion, and that the historical nature overrides modern concerns. Maybe there’s some statute that contradicts me there, but I doubt it’s stated clearly enough to not be open to interpretation.

    Also, since it’s a historical photograph, many other sites host it. Are they going to be banned for the same reason? You can guarantee that many more sites are mirroring the image following this news story, are all of them going to be banned? Will eBay be blocked next because they host the same image? (http://cgi.ebay.com/SCORPIONS-VIRGIN-KILLER-1976-LP-Rare-Cover-MINT_W0QQitemZ110320018116QQcmdZViewItemQQptZB%C3%BCcher_Unterhaltung_Music_CDs?hash=item110320018116&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A1%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50). Talk about a slippery slope….

    “Disregarding the argument that “if it was published in the past, it must be OK” as self-evidentally nonsensical, it comes down to who’s definition you accept.”

    First of all, why should that argument be disregarded? The whole purpose of anti-child porn laws is to protect children from abuse. A child in a 30 year-old photograph that was acceptable to a majority at the time of its publication is not in danger of abuse.

    You then get onto the shaky question of whether or not seeing this photograph would inspire new offences, but I’d argue that there’s many other sites out there with far less cultural and educational value than Wikipedia that need to be addressed first.

    “The IWF ain’t perfect, but as I said, that’s an implementation detail.”

    That’s the entire issue. Again, we would not be having this conversation if the image in question was unquestionably pornographic. When they apply a subjective opinion to historical record and censor it, that’s a massive problem.

    “I wonder what Wikipedia would do if the IWF *does* take the line that, if they refuse to remove those images, that the whole domain SHOULD be blocked by UK ISPs? Come to that, I wonder what the popular response would be?”

    I’d guess Wikipedia would be blocked by some ISPs in that case, but probably not all. The IWF’s remit stated on its own web page is as follows:

    “To minimise the availability of potentially illegal internet content specifically;

    * images of child sexual abuse* hosted anywhere in the world
    * criminally obscene content hosted in the UK
    * incitement to racial hatred content hosted in the UK”

    There is absolutely no way that album cover can be construed as an image of child sexual abuse by any definition I’m familiar with. Therefore, since the image is hosted outside of the UK, it’s beyond the IWF’s remit unless they apply the more nebulous “obscene content” charge.

    It would probably be for the courts to decide whether or not the image is obscene, and it would be a dangerous precedent if it were found to be so, IMHO. If you think I’m over-reacting, I grew up in the UK in the 80s and I remember what a piss-poor job the authorities did with policing the 1984 Video Recordings Act (read Seduction Of The Gullible if you’re interested). I shudder to think what damage those kinds of idiots could do with a resource as vital to freedom, communication and education as the Internet.

    I also think this kind of thing is totally counter-productive – does anyone really think this kind of thing does anything to discourage or catch the people actually abusing children? It could actually have the opposite effect – giving paedophiles a chance to work out how to bypass ISP filters on legal content so they have less problems getting to real child porn.

  16. Ugly Canuck says:

    Ah nice to see that thought is involved…it is of interest that State Secrets are the only case where info possession is criminal…and we ought not to be expanding that class of info, in the “info age”, IMO. An unwarranted expansion of State power into new areas.
    Where are the “thin-edge-of-the-wedge” anti-state right-wingers, whenever this net censorship/”child porn” issue arises?
    That’s my problem…I hate that people abuse kids, but should youthful-looking ladies therefore be denied a chance to thrive in the adult-film business?
    I guess that I think that there has not been an explosion of child abuse sufficient to justify these radical changes in the criminal law – I note that possession of “official secrets” is not by that fact alone a crime, it is the dissemination/obtaining of such info that usually involves criminality. Unlike the straight criminaliztion of the possession of “child porn”.
    That is to say that this is a novel expansion of the criminal law, one that takes the state places it had not previously been thought that it had the right to go.
    I think the voiced concern on the part of the police/state for kids is spurious and is being used as a ruse to get the State permission to monitor the Net and their citizen’s use thereof.
    Moral outrage used as an engine of tyranny…the tyranny not being the denial of these images, but the outright monitoring and in some sense control of the citizen’s use of the internet by the State.

  17. Anonymous says:

    This is a truky epic fail.
    The image isn’t banned anywhere except the wiki page. I just get a white page (ISP=Virgin, how ironic!), with no warning message or anything.

    It’s still visible on the secure wiki page (i.e. if you go to https://www.wikipedia.com)
    It’s still visible in google’s webcache.
    It’s still visible on Amazon.com
    It’s just had huge publicity on Channel 4 news
    A spokesman from the Internet Watch Foundation was still justiying their actions.

    So… I’ve just reported the internet watch foundation’s reporting page to the internet watch foundation. By banning the image they are responsible for publicising child porn imagery on a scale never seen before (i.e. child porn on the evening news!) Ban this sick website!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I’ve worked for an ISP in the UK that was implementing this filtering. No I won’t explain how it works. I can’t tell you who is providing the list because I honestly don’t know their name, though it was at the start a source of endless frustration when they would block the entirety of rapidshare, which they agreed not to do in future but just the pedophile content. Also no ISP will provide a list of blocked sites. 1) they’re legally not allowed to look at it, and 2) the list each ISP gets is customised with a couple of deliberate non-existent sites. If someone working for an ISP leaked the list, they’d know exactly which ISP it was.

    The Great British Public, or more specifically “The Great British Media” has forced this kind of filtering on ISPs. I don’t know anyone in any of the ISPs that a) Wanted to implement this, or b) thought it was a good idea. However what they couldn’t afford to do was refuse, because you can bet your house, wait 6 months and the Daily Mail, or other noteworthy papers, would have been there with a headline showing which ISPs were filtering and putting the heavy emphasis on the concept that if the ISP wasn’t filtering it was “Supporting Pedophiles”. That’s something no ISP can afford to be branded with.

  19. zuzu says:

    “Terrorism” and “child-porn” are the two emotional hot-buttons that undermine all rational discourse of the necessity for absolute free speech online.

    There’s a kind of convergent evolution towards (“kinder, gentler”) Fascism by the G20 (e.g. the USA and China mirroring each other), perhaps because of their realization coming on little cat’s feet that all authority is socially constructed epistemology. The Internet fundamentally undermines their ability to manifest social engineering, both in the editing of official history and in the tools that facilitate commerce and social coordination.

    This was realized once before with the introduction of radio, which is why the FCC and BBC were created for government regulation of long-distance and mass-communication. (Also why Hitler confiscated radios in Nazi Germany, and why German and Japanese immigrants in the USA also had their radios confiscated.)

    This was all recognized by the cypherpunks in the early 1990s via strong cryptography, financial cryptography, and anonymous remailers/routers. (Later, with Freenet and research into distributed hash tables (DHT).)

    Again, however, it seems that what was old is new again.

    …next I expect we’ll be hearing about laws proposing the registering of all public 802.11 Wi-Fi routers, and a renewed interest in wireless mesh networking and Free networks.

  20. Ito Kagehisa says:

    No-one has ever managed to prevent the rulers of Britain or the fathers of the church from engaging in socially objectionable sexual activity, often involving children. History cares not for custom, and bones laid lonely beneath the Haut de la Garenne come to light in time.

    Find who is loudest in support of suppressing “unnatural urges”, and you may find someone begging for help… or for punishment.

  21. Dr.Arthur says:

    Since when did Wikipedia become a place for child porn?! This is fucking daft!

  22. Kenny Park says:

    Let’s name and shame the ISPs. So far I’ve gathered that Demon, Virgin and 02 (at least via iPhone). Who are the other three?

    I’m with BT Total Broadband, sharing my connection as BTFon, and I can access the Scorpion page, the Virgin Killer page and the larger image of the cover.

    For the record, I see this image and think “Smell the Glove” and I feel slightly creeped out purposefully navigating to it, but in the interests of free speech (and discovering whether my ISP was among those blocking), I did it.

    As for whether its porn or not, the very fact that there’s an intelligent discussion here on that point indicates to me that it is not. I admit to being a sometime consumer of porn on the internet (though no child porn, I stress), and when it’s porn, there’s no doubt that it’s porn.

    So, who are the other offending ISPs?

  23. Mister Moofoo says:

    #58: I don’t know if it was a missp of “justifier” or not, but “justifer” may be my new favorite word. It’s like aquifer: it’s fun to say, and relatively easy to parse. Although it may be redundantly interchangeable with justifier. Hhhh.

  24. dman says:

    We are overdue for a link to Monkeydust.
    Looks like the Pedofinder general has been on the case in the UK. Here’s a Xmas-themed clip.

  25. dragisak says:

    I would also like to see names of people who had sex with minors filtered out. Like Thomas Jefferson and Mahatma Gandhi.

  26. acx99 says:

    i clicked the link (Virgin.net) and got a blank page.

    Whilst obviously, any crime perpetrated against a child is implicitly one of the most vile crimes imaginable, blocking this image is retarded. I’m perfectly happy that organisations exist that scour the Internet for illegal activity and use lawful powers to shut them down, but my ISP (poorly!) blocking a wikipedia article on an album cover? That just debases the real fight and makes me regard the IWF as just a bunch of puritanical zealots who as a matter of fact have just lost my moral support. “Zero Tolerance” doesnt have to mean “Zero Thought”.

    Presumably, the IWF is going to block the sites of every online retailer that sells childrens underwear/nightwear now too?

  27. zuzu says:

    I’m perfectly happy that organisations exist that scour the Internet for illegal activity and use lawful powers to shut them down

    Another question that most everyone seems to have forgotten is: Illegal in which jurisdiction? Presumably everything is legal somewhere, certainly at least anything that can be done online. c.f. “It’s always lunchtime somewhere.”

    Online gambling illegal in your home country? No problem, because it’s legal somewhere with bandwidth to host. (At its most extreme, remember data havens such as HavenCo?) c.f. tax competition

    Orthogonal to those physical hosts are darknets and the aforementioned encrypted network overlays (e.g. TLDs of .i2p, .onion, and .free)

  28. imipak says:

    PaulT, #31: “If it’s not subjective, why would the opinion of a jury matter?”

    Sorry, I was unclear there. The content of the picture /to a first approximation/ can be described objectively. (Is it a child? Are the breats exposed? Genitals? is the pose overtly sexual? etc.) That’s enough for the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service, an organisation separate from the police) to decide whether it’s worthwhile bringing a prosecution. (A lot of arguable factors come into play at that stage, including “value for money”, “serving the public interest”, etc.) However the whole point of hgaving a jury decide on guilt and innocence (as with any other criminal case) is to account for the subjective elements. Changing mores, different contexts and backgrounds and so on obviously can’t be accounted for on a case-by-case basis by formal legislation. For instance, a jury can decide whether a defence that “it’s just a couple of snaps of my grandkids frolicking on the lawn 30 years ago” flies or not. Of course it’s imperfect but juries are the best we’ve come up with in, what, four thousand years? of formal jurisprudence. Yes juries make mistakes, yes there’s the risk of lynch-mob justice or widespread social prejudice at odds with natural justice, but it’s the best we’ve got.

    Of course the context effects the outcome, which is why responses about marching people off to prison for possessing photos of their kids in the bath are straw men. ISTR cases of that sort did turn up in the early days of awareness of child porn, but as with tabloid frenzies about “Health and Safety nazis”, the action of one ill-informed or misguided junior employee at a local council are not necessarily a good guide to what laws actually say, or how they are interpreted in the real world.)

    @Canuck: “I hate that people abuse kids, but should youthful-looking ladies therefore be denied a chance to thrive in the adult-film business?”

    A great example of something well into the gray area; there are many more, of course, but that’s no reason to say “Well, we can’t decide whether this album cover is sufficiently dodgy to merit restrictions, and anyway the internet routes around censorship, so therefore all child porn is legal and nothing should be filtered” .

    Seems to me that the tone of much of the coverage, not just on BB but on the similar pieces on Slashdot and El Reg, is that fundamental principles are being violated and mass state censorship (a “great firewall”) is being built in the UK, and so on. I disagree; none of this is new, and the details about what gets filtered (and what’s likely to land you in jail and on the sex offenders register) and are implementation details, rather than principles.

    It’s going to be interesting, and probably rather depressing, to see what the tabloids make of it tomorrow morning. Non-UK Boingers may not know that the very tabloids that so enjoy working themselves up into a lather of self-righteous hatred against ‘kiddie fiddlers’ are delighted to print pictures of 15 year old minor celebs in revealing / “provocative” poses or papparazi snaps sunbathing topless. The proprieter of one also owns a large porn empire including satellite TV channels.

    • Antinous says:

      As always, if you’re that worried about protecting children, remove them from their parents. Abuse by strangers remains a tiny fraction of all child abuse.

  29. Slowermo says:

    I was just reading that page on the child bride doc because the MST3K folks mentioned it at Comic-Con as the worst movie they ever watched but decided not to do.

  30. Kieran O'Neill says:

    Well, here is where it gets interesting.

    On the one hand, popular opinion in the UK veers into hysteria over paedophilia and child porn, and this is ultimately what brought about the censorship.

    On the other hand, Wikipedia is now really, really popular, even among the masses. And the press is focusing on the collateral damage caused in terms of denial of access to the whole of WP.

    At the very least it will get people talking…

  31. zuzu says:

    Seems to me that the tone of much of the coverage, not just on BB but on the similar pieces on Slashdot and El Reg, is that fundamental principles are being violated and mass state censorship (a “great firewall”) is being built in the UK, and so on. I disagree; none of this is new, and the details about what gets filtered (and what’s likely to land you in jail and on the sex offenders register) and are implementation details, rather than principles.

    Actually, this is new, online.

    You’re wrong about the question merely being what gets filtered, because the fundamental principles you cite are being violated in that there’s any filtering at all.

    (Except for the beaming jewel of hypocrisy regarding spam and the MAPS RBL. But I, and others, have been a critic of that as well, since its inception. Spam is best handled on the edges of the network with Bayesian spam filters included in the user’s preferred MUA.)

  32. zuzu says:

    but that’s no reason to say “Well, we can’t decide whether this album cover is sufficiently dodgy to merit restrictions, and anyway the internet routes around censorship, so therefore all child porn is legal and nothing should be filtered”.

    Actually, that quote by John Gilmore is goddamned right:

    The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.

    The potential for circulation of child porn is the price of online Freedom. Why not instead spend the resources on prosecuting people doing the actual abuse of making the child porn in the first place?

  33. PaulT says:

    @Kieran O’Neill #76: “On the one hand, popular opinion in the UK veers into hysteria over paedophilia and child porn, and this is ultimately what brought about the censorship.”

    Not really. Certain tabloids such as The Sun and right-wing rags like The Daily Fail having been hyping these stories for years in the same way that they hype stories of terrorism and immigration, and the same way they did the same over “video nasties”, etc. Only the knuckle-dragging idiots who read those papers regularly truly believed what they were saying. It’s sad there there’s a lot of those fools, but they’re not the majority, really.

    I think what’s happening here is a kind of flashpoint. Nobody, within the general public or among hardcore geeks, really cared that much when this filter was being used to stop actual porn sites. Now that it’s attacking a resource that many of us use for totally innocent purposes, it’s become a major issue.

    Hopefully now that it’s out in the open, something will be done to stop it. It’s telling that only a few ISPs agreed to block in the first place (and some of those who did were also the Phorm-peddlers so can’t be trusted), so there should be plenty of industry support.

  34. Anonymous says:

    Well, the next censorship will hit Nirvana´s Nevermind.. followed by Soul Asylum´s Grave Dancers Union..

    You know, this was just the beginning ?

  35. Anonymous says:

    I can confirm that on TalkTalk you get a 404 for http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer.

  36. imipak says:

    (Gosh darn it all to heck, how do you get the quotation icons to manifest?)

    hi Zuzu,

    “You’re wrong about the question merely being what gets filtered, because the fundamental principles you cite are being violated in that there’s any filtering at all.”

    No, really — it’s nothing new in the UK, you just haven’t noticed it before :) The IWF have been around since 1996, and ISPs have been blocking and/or filtering stuff as child porn on their say-so more or less since they were set up. (ISTR from reading ntk.net a decade or so back, when it was essential Friday night reading, that essentially the government told the ISPs, “either you regulate yourselves effectively, or we’ll be forced, FORCED! we tell you, to bow to public pressure and try to censor the Internet. You don’t want that, we don’t want that, so please make some reasonable best efforts to pull down sites you host if the cops call and tell you they’re hosting child porn, and block access to offshore sites in the same way.”)

    What IS new here, I think, is that they’ve landed on mainstream site with very heavy traffic. People who got the block pages when they tried to get to underagelolitas.com or whatever were just a lot less likely to moan about it to the tech media, for obvious reasons. What’s different is that this is a grey-area case on a well-known, high traffic site, who are refusing to remove the content on the principle of resistance to censorship.

    I’m totally not going into the spam-filtering analogy – not only do I think different principles apply, but I also have to disclose that I’m involved with a business that works in that area. I hope my opinions on this aren’t affected that, and I don’t think they are, but there it is.

    “…that quote by John Gilmore is goddamned right: The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.”

    Actually I think you’ll find John has himself said that he has realised that he was wrong. (I can’t google up a source for that, ISTR it was a podcast of a talk by him and John Perry Barlow, and of course googling the phrase just throws up a million sources citing the original quote.) It’s a neat expression and idea, but the fact is that if censorship is defined on a practical level as “no-one will route your traffic”, then you don’t have an ISP, all you’ve got is a big pile of Cisco 12000s and line cards to sell on eBay. (Ask Intercage, who received the Internet death penalty for being a persistent, straight-forwardly blackhat network service botnets, spam, malware and, yes, child porn.) And as is demonstrably the case with the original Great Firewall, the Chinese one, it’s hard to get around determined well funded efforts by the state to filter Internet traffic. It can be done, but it’s not easy, and the penalties for being caught are severe. So for practical purposes, it IS possible to censor the Internet. Interestingly, child porn is one of the few types of content which is pretty universal on the list of stuff you shouldn’t have, everywhere around the world. (I confess ignorance – I don’t know what the law is in the USA on possession of child porn. ISTR it was a big deal in ‘Donnie Darko’ though :) )

    Anyway, the point I was trying to make when I quoted JG was that using that as a justification for not filtering doesn’t stand up. “We can never stop all men from getting drunk and beating their wives and children, therefore it’s futile to try, and pointless to pass laws against it.” Aren’t they the same arguments?

  37. Takuan says:

    “Why not instead spend the resources on prosecuting people doing the actual abuse of making the child porn in the first place?”

    No, spend the money on the kids.

  38. acx99 says:

    Then they came for the heavy metal fans, but I did not speak up because I was not a heavy metal fan.

  39. mikelotus says:

    I am curious. Are you getting blocked from purchasing this David Hamilton book? http://www.amazon.co.uk/Age-Innocence-David-Hamilton/dp/1854103040/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228688033&sr=1-2

  40. RadioGuy says:

    (Gosh darn it all to heck, how do you get the quotation icons to manifest?)

    Like this:
    <blockquote>some quote</blockquote>

    Which makes:

    some quote

  41. laurenjayne says:

    It really is rather ludicrous, especially since a Google image search of ‘Scorpions album cover’ brings it up as the first hit. (I’ve just searched it to see what all the fuss was about.) I echo the sentiments of everybody in regards to the horrors of child abuse etc, but really, blocking Wikipedia pages about albums and films does not seem to be the way to address this. I despair.

  42. Ugly Canuck says:

    Eh, it’s the State’s foot in the door.
    Without child porn, Poof! No justification for any tax dollars spent by the State to “monitor” content on the Internet.
    As far as I can see, anyway.

  43. Takuan says:

    run…or fight.

  44. thebrix says:

    “the major UK ISPs thought to have affected Wikimedia sites are, O2/Be Unlimited, Virgin Media, Easynet, Plusnet, Demon, and Opal Telecommunications (TalkTalk)”

    Emphasise “thought” as I am a member of one of those and can access the offensive/offending images without problems …

  45. Ugly Canuck says:

    in my last comment I was referring to Laws criminalizing simple possession of material deemed to be “child porn”.
    Manufacture and sale ought to be severely sanctioned, as it currently is when such activity is discovered.
    But the State has no place in the computers of the Nation…

  46. Anonymous says:

    The 1938 movie Child Bride wasn’t a documentary. It was billed as a morality play, cautionary tale, borderline exploitation movie, in the same vein as Reefer Madness.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0029989/

  47. sammich says:

    Takuan @ 1 – “run…or fight” …or sign up with an uncastrated ISP…

    (you still up? or up again?)

  48. OM says:

    Holy, cow, it works!

    …Always wondered how that was done on BB :-P

  49. Takuan says:

    somewhere, in a quiet government office, an identity is being crafted. Get ready for the ultimate unchallengeable justifer: “Terror-Pedo”.
    A few incidents, some careful image building and press releases, a new bogey man that can never be found and will never go away. How much more palatable to have the worst and vilest vices comfortably identified with foreigners. Really just a Fu Manchu re-make with a lower demographic and more bombs. It’ll be a winner.

  50. sammich says:

    I know ~I~ don’t want my access to Sonicwall badger porn restricted.

  51. Anonymous says:

    #36:

    2) the list each ISP gets is customised with a couple of deliberate non-existent sites. If someone working for an ISP leaked the list, they’d know exactly which ISP it was.

    A few lines of Perl and a bit of waiting solves that problem. Go to.

  52. andygates says:

    How can the list be implemented if it is not available? It must be out there and it needs public scrutiny to have credibility.

    ISPs: Leak the list!

    (c’mon Demon, you’re usually the good guys in stuff like this)

  53. Teasmaid says:

    I hardly think that the example of the Scorpions cover should be deemed as a ‘photo of the naked chest of a little girl’ when in fact it is a full frontal nude photo with a cracked glass effect covering her genitals.(the album’s title is a bit of a giveaway ‘Virgin Killer’) I’m not saying that the access to these images should be restricted but I feel that implying that it is as harmless and innofensive as a photo of a child bride from 1938 is misleading. Also, Scorpion were a really crappy band that relied on ‘shocking’ album covers as their music was so rubbish.

  54. Anonymous says:

    I’m with Virgin Media and the page for the album virgin killers is blocked!

  55. Anonymous says:

    #60:

    Would you want to gamble your career and face prosecution on the gamble that the non-existent sites are the only ones there? I wouldn’t, doubt anyone else would either.

  56. EeyoreX says:

    “This is the “voluntary” child-porn filter that we hear very little about.”

    Yeah, like most EU contrys, we have one of those in Sweden too. Our National Filter only came into the spotlight when the federal police decided to add the adress of the acclaimed Pirate Bay torrent site to the list, just for laughs.

    I find the entire concept of a child porn blocking-list disgusting.
    Because if we KNOW for a fact that someone on the web is distributing kiddie porn, and we actually have their friggin ADRESS, then we shouldnt just add that adress to some filter list; we should instead USE that adress to hunt the bastards down, shut down their operation, castrate them all and take a dump in their servers.

    When we just block the offending urls, it’s like pulling down a curtain and pretending that the horrors on the other side of the curtain have dissapeared just because we can’t see them anymore.
    it’s lazy and it’s wrong.

    • Antinous says:

      You know when Interpol busts a ring of 50 child pornographers in the Netherlands? Where do you think that child porn comes from? Pornographers aren’t sneaking in windows, borrowing babies, buggering them on film and then returning them. Their parents are producing the porn or pimping their own children. The problem is not the availability of child porn. The problem is the production of child porn. The problem has to be solved at its source. Once it’s online, the damage is already done.

  57. Takuan says:

    surfs always up at my house

  58. Spikeles says:

    This should provide some nice ammo for the anti-censorship groups trying to stop the Australian filter going ahead.

  59. BritSwedeGuy says:

    It’s already started, the entry for the Scorpions’ Naked Virgin album has been blocked – dangerous stuff! If the terrorists get hold of crap German metal albums, civilisation as we know it will end!
    http://gl0rify.blogspot.com/2008/12/online-censorshit-starts-to-bite.html

  60. Ugly Canuck says:

    heh heh heh…”documentary” = way to get around local ordinances regulating what movies could be screened, so these “documentaries” dramatized the dangers of abortion, or drugs, or teen sex,as a cover for titillation. “It’s educational! Not dirty!”
    People have ever found ways around the censorship of sexual materials. They always have, and always will. Hell, you can write yer own stories, draw yer own pictures. The Laws against possession were and are incapable of enforcement.
    That’s why it was not the possession of porno per se that was illegal, although it would be often confiscated if found – who would complain to the Judge about it? No, it was the production of, it was the sale of, it was the public display of, that was punished by the Criminal Law.
    And these Laws are no longer enough, eh? How convenient that the State now has a reason to inspect every hard packet coming over the Internet….

  61. IamInnocent says:

    Let’s say, just for the sake of the argument, that we were able to design the perfect filter that would eliminate every occurrence of any pedophile activity, not only from the Web but, to push the example to its limits, from our whole lives period. Total, absolute censure.

    Now would that eliminate the pedophiles? Certainly it wouldn’t. Would they still make victims? Of course, that’s their compulsion and they don’t all fight it and be successful. Then the question becomes, still for the sake of the argument, how do you catch them if you can’t see them anymore?

    Censorship is the weapon of the weak and only help perpetuating the problem when it exist.

  62. Takuan says:

    there are enough politicians and others in positions of power and trust that are the consumers of kiddie porn to guarantee the sensible suggestions of Eeyorex never be taken up. The same way the bankrupt war on drugs continues since many administering it are profiting from the high prices illegality brings. They don’t WANT kiddie porn to go away. Hence boneheaded policies like the topic here.

  63. Ugly Canuck says:

    Oh yes, the soft ones too.

  64. sbisson says:

    Oh it’s worse than that. Some, like Virgin, are using BGP to broadcast fake routes to Wikipedia to any downstream ISPs that use them for transit connectivity. What’s more, they’re not actually telling people that they’re doing it…

    As a result the ISP I use had no Wikipedia access for 48 hours this week until the admins discovered just what was going on.

    As we were just getting blank HTML pages back I suspect that what they were doing was broadcasting routes to their “transparent” proxy without actually giving access to it…

  65. imipak says:

    I don’t think that blocking child porn can be equated with a Chinese-style “Great Firewall”, and I can’t see it as a civil liberties issue.

    Undoubtedly in the UK “teh peedos” fill the functional niche in the consent-manufacturing mediascape that “teh terrorists!!1″ filled in the US (the bogieman used to (try to) frighten the population into supporting regressive/repressive/civil liberty-busting laws).

    We should alert for spurious attempts to justify, say, ID cards (or ubiquitous CCTV, or detention without trial, or laws against encryption – and so on) in the name of child protection.

    However a leap from there to trying to frame blocking images of sexual abuse of children as a civil liberties issue is a jump too far for me; is that really what is being objected to here? (I honestly don’t know.) If not, then the specific images that are blocked, and the process for reporting stuff and reviewing listings just an implementation detail. So I guess the cause of the upset is (a) allegedly content on Wikipedia is being blocked, and that may include the Scorpions cover (altough it’s there on TFA.) Is it thought so self-evident as to not be worth saying that anything that was published on an album cover can’t possibly be considered “child pornography”? Surely not.

    The root of the cognitive dissonance seems to be whether or not pictures of naked children that aren’t incontrovertibly images /of/ direct sexual abuse should of themselves be classed as child porn and blocked. Should the intention of the laws in this area to stop paedophiles collecting images that are pornographic to them, or purely to detect/prevent the abusive acts that are depicted in the “type 2″ images? (Hmmmm, now I think of it ISTR there IS a formal classification system for assessing images found on suspect’s computers; it’s been mentioned in news reports, in the sense of “the police said that hundreds of the 100,000 images found were ‘category one’, the most serious type of images.”)

    Context matters here. My Mum’s got a pictures of my brothers and sister and I (at a very young age) splashing around in a paddling pool with no clothes on; there are, perhaps, three or four amonst thousands of snapshots in her albums. I’m sure we’d all agree that’s not grounds for prosecution. However if those same images were found in a collection of thousands of similar pictures of naked kids, the context changes; the intent is clearly “sexual arousal by images of children” rather than “preserve memories of the great summer drought of 1976″.

    Finally — the IWF isn’t an organ of the state; and I would have thought the reason for not publishing the list was pretty self-evident.

  66. zuzu says:

    I find the analogy to the No Fly List to be more apt; to fuzzily quote Bruce Schneier, “people too dangerous to allow to fly, but not dangerous enough to actually arrest for anything”.

    Mark Foley aside, pedophiles (like terrorists) are a vague threat convenient to draw upon for fear mongering by politicians for ever expanding government authority. (Clearly real harm is done by both pedophiles and terrorists, but for an extremely small percentage of the population, and with all the problems in the world, we’re in a perpetual state of triage prioritization. War, starvation, homelessness, disease, etc. do orders of magnitude more harm, but receive inversely proportional attention in mass-media.) So, I doubt that politicians want their own dark secret 8mm-like pleasures, so much as they enjoy the power and authority that having such nebulous enemies in the limelight affords them.

  67. Alex Tingle says:

    Let’s do something about it. Sign the pledge: “I will move to an ISP that does not censor my Internet access but only if 1,000 other people in the UK will do the same.”

    http://www.pledgebank.com/boycottcensors

  68. evilmonkeyslayer says:

    I can confirm on the O2 network using an iPhone that it gives a 403 on the wikipedia page.

    However, my home connection is with Demon business broadband and it isn’t blocked at all.

    I don’t see the point of this blocking, I can get past it trivially easy by using a vpn, tor or a proxy.

    Anyway, for child porn can’t they just easily download what they want from p2p etc? I just don’t understand how this can possibly work for its intended purpose other than to piss everyone off.

  69. Anonymous says:

    Straight from the ISP – how the IWF / British ISP filtering mechanism works…

    http://nocky100.wordpress.com/2008/12/08/great-firewall-of-britain/

  70. Ugly Canuck says:

    Moral outrage used as an engine of tyranny.
    An old tyrant’s trick.

  71. imipak says:

    Blocking access to child porn is tyranny?

  72. anarki says:

    Crazy. Just for reference I am on Virgin Media and trying to access this url http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Killer just gives me a blank white page…

  73. Ugly Canuck says:

    I agree Zuzu, this is a “seen to be doing good” issue, but from what i know of this stuff (which ain’t much- I look at this issue as a way for the State to have an excuse to spend $$ eyeballing what you surf on the Net) pedophiles are akin to the mentally ill – they are “wired” in an abnormal way to be sexually attracted to pre-pubescents in a way that the vast majority of us are not. Dangerous, especially to those least able to defend themselves, but sick. Not quite the same thing as the killer for hire or the robber – Pedos in a meaningful sense can be said to be mentally ill. That does not mean they ought not be locked up. In fact it ought to make it easier to lock them up.
    But is the prosecution of people for the possession of child porn rationally connected to the goal of ending the sexual exploitation of children? Are these means so effective at reaching that goal, that we should allow for full-time warrantless internet filtering/monitoring by the police? Computer searches as a matter of course in all criminal investigations?
    Are we punishing people for looking at the “wrong” pictures, reading the “wrong” stories, or for sexually exploiting children? Do the first two activities equate with the third? Is the Law incapable of making the distinction? Are all three the viewer the reader and the molester equal sex criminals? Do they belong in the same Public Register of Sex Offenders, or in the same jail cell?
    It seems to me that the harm done by the molester is far far greater than the harm done by the looker at, or the reader of, pornography.

  74. Ugly Canuck says:

    Finally J. Young over at Cryptome has also noticed that only some information is illegal to simply possess. In all cases it benefits the State, though, in that these Laws increase its Power…

  75. KanedaJones says:

    @#1 Takuan

    cory is currently fighting where he is, whilst repeatedly insulting his former country canada (my current country) for poor interweb managment.

    I’d rather be in a economicly missmanaged free-net country than the alcatraz of europe.

    @#12 imipak

    “However a leap from there to trying to frame blocking images of sexual abuse of children as a civil liberties issue is a jump too far for me; is that really what is being objected to here? (I honestly don’t know.)”

    the problem is not all nudity is porn, and especially true is not all nudity is sex abuse Since one pic was of a DRESSED child bride its not even the point. laws are to stop actions not stop what you are thinking and since some pedophiles read clothing catalogs I guess all images of children are porn????

    the way the law is on the books your mother should be in jail, as was someone in the news years ago for a pic of his toddler while crossing into some gawd awful country, the specifics I forget unfortunately..

    the way the law is implemented in the real world is that it is at the whim of the moral judgment of those applying it and the only people who step up for that job are those who are so paranoid on those issues they see boogymen where there are none.

  76. KanedaJones says:

    @#16 imipak

    “Blocking access to child porn is tyranny?”

    no, blocking what someone’s interpretation of child porn is. you my dear imipak have the right to live your life without me telling you that you have to live by MY set of beliefs.

    I have seen the album cover and think it IS offensive, but what does that mean? If a consensus of the population is what is needed to make something “acceptable” or “unacceptable” then if all the pedos in the USA took over a state and outnumbered the non pedos then could they pass laws? Not when other states interfere. maybe they took a country? well we have seen in afghanistan what happens when your population’s opinions are outweighed by the population of ‘western’ countries.

    speaking of adghanistan – it has been argued that the totalitarian government there did not represent the majority of the people. that is something that happens anywhere humans give a few men say over what many other men can do.

    thats why its tyranny.

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