London cops' signs in Internet cafe warn against loading porn and "extremism"

While taking my lunch break today in Leather Lane in Clerkenwell (London), I spotted this sign on the door of an Internet Cafe, warning that you might be ejected or arrested if you use the computers to download porn or "extremist" information.

No porn or jihadis, sign, Internet Cafe, Leather Lane, Clerkenwell, London, UK


  1. gosh – i hope there’s a bobby looking over my shoulder at all times to make sure i don’t download anything inappropriate or offensive. there’s a list of that sort of thing isn’t there? because if they stop me before i read anything bad, then i won’t be a criminal will i? i want to be certain.

    1. or upload, access, transmit or store….

      btw, would it be okay if i brought my own computer in to look at bad stuff? then it wouldn’t be on your system right? then i’d be safe, wouldn’t i?

    2. Because all those bobbies(sp?) don’t have anything better to do especially since all types of violent crimes have been eradicated in the UK.

    3. Don’t worry… there always *is* “a bobby looking over your shoulder.” I read yesterday that there are 500,000 security/surveillance cameras in London. Half a million.

      Yeah, I’d have to assume they’re monitoring your data, too.

  2. ‘Offensive’ according to what criteria? Could that include political satire or making fun of religions?

    Also, if it also lists ‘pornographic’, what is meant by ‘inappropriate’? Another term so widely interpretable that it’s effectively meaningless.

  3. so, time to start up/downloading bunches of BDSM involving women in veils in public.

  4. I’m glad that Londoners are still free to think what they want them to think.
    That drink in Cory’s hand looks tasty.

  5. What if you take that poster off the window, put it under a scanner in the internet cafe, and proceed to modify the image on one of their computers to produce a satirical mock-up?
    Would that be offensive?

  6. I wonder if Cory was arrested for taking photos in public?

    Taking a photo of a poster in a window? Obviously suspicious and therefore must be treated as potential terrorist activity.

  7. Several flavors of gum are described as extreme. While I understand that searching for those flavors of gum would be verboten, would the user be liable if they showed up in and ad? Many sporting events are both violent and extreme, so maybe a filter could be put on that removes any images of players colliding, or having conflicts with other players. Which would make boxing and UFC more surreal.

    1. It’s a carrot-juice with ginger, smarty pants. I’m trying to shake a cold.

      1. Carrot juice is murder, making this picture offensive. I hope no one is viewing this post at that internet cafe.

  8. Not just illegal, please note, but “offensive or inappropriate”. Offensive to whom? Inappropriate to what?

    These are the sort of catch-all weasel-words you might expect in China.

    You might as well just have a notice that says: “We reserve the right to terminate your connection and report you to the police whenever we feel like it”.

  9. Someone needs to get these guys a better copywriter. That sign essentially bans using the internet.

    “All customers agree that while using our systems they will not access, upload, download any material, or author, transmit or store documents…” The rest of it is just sub-sets of documents and materials that are banned.


  10. I(don’t) like the extreme vagueness of the last sentence: downloading certain materials could possibly be illegal… but we’re not telling you what certain materials. Breaking some laws could be against the law! It’s possible! Be warned!
    I just found out Great Britain has no constitution. If true, that’s even more bizar than the election process.

  11. So does the cafe have a right to censor what people are viewing through their system, or do they not?

    So, in this case, to all the daft people posting about moral relativity:

    Offensive to the owners of the Internet cafe.
    Inappropriate by the cafe’s standards.

    And they do reserve the right to terminate your connection, because it’s not your connection, it’s *their* connection.

    That’s how capitalism works. If you don’t like their rules, go start your own Internet cafe and let people do what they like. Some other Internet cafe would make a killing doing just that.

    1. But they haven’t said what those standards are, have they?

      You’re right that they can make whatever rules they like. That’s always been true. So, what’s the vaguely threatening (/ threateningly vague) poster for?

    2. This isn’t the cafe posting its AUP. It’s a poster from the Metropolitan Police. The cafe is notifying you that it is cooperating with the police in surveillance of your internet use.

    3. Capitalism is wonderful. I would never enter a cafe displaying that ridiculous sign and would spend my money elsewhere.

      However… this is not purely a question of capitalism, unless the police are now openly for sale. The poster is over the name of the Police, not the cafe owner.

      Anyway, off to the cafe to catch up on my favourite activity: extreme sports… I love those radical bike tricks, they’re totally the bomb.

    4. I believe that was the plot of a recent Simpsons episode.

      “I’ve got it! We’ll open up a neteasy!”

  12. It does say “where appropriate.”

    I personally have no problem with this in relation to turning in those who are looking at child pornography.

    I would have no expectation of privacy in an internet café anyways…

  13. Re: #19 and 20

    That’s what I was thinking. If it’s store policy, fine, they can do what they want. I would expect them to frown on me downloading and watching legal porn on their system and in public. But this is a sign put there by the police. It’s not specifically store policy. The first line states it’s a police notice. That makes all the difference in the world. That, and the vagueness of it all. And in regards to the defender Kyle H (#17), this actually isn’t capitalism in practice, if you regard capitalism as free enterprise with little or no state interference.

    1. you beat me to it.

      I’ll chip in. Corey, you’re a role model for thousands of tech-savvy people across the world. Mother Earth is crying as I type this!

  14. ‘Inappropriate’ is context sensitive. As the majority of internet bandwith is about porn, anything non-porn is inappropriate, i guess.

  15. I’m not sure I quite see the problem here – it seems a standard sign that I’ve seen variations of in quite a few internet cafés and public/university libraries, occasionally as a signed agreement.

    It doesn’t say they’re monitoring your data, but if you look at porn in a public location with kids present around you, or watch neo-nazi videos in front of everyone, I’d sure as hell want you thrown out of the establishment.

    1. Yeah, but compare the different scenarios here. #1- you, as the owner of the place, don’t want skinhead nazi’s upsetting your other customers. #2- you, as the owner, are told by the police that if they catch anyone watching anything they don’t happen to agree with, the party’s over, so you’d better comply.

  16. Big brother is watching you in london. Why do they care if someone is downloalding porn or writing a nasty story?

    I can see a rule that you can’t view adult material withing sight of other customers, but this is pure nazi crap.

  17. I’m not sure what is more depressing –

    This sign,

    or the fact that there are people out there (readers of Boing Boing no less!) that don’t see any problem with this sign.

  18. “Extremist” Sounds like your Magna Carta to me. Or our Bill Of Rights. Good luck living under the (jack)boots.

  19. Leather Lane, Cory? So it *was* you standing behind me at the fajita stand the other week!

  20. My guess is that this is up for the same purpose as the warning on coffee cups that says “contents may be hot”. I doubt they will be actively monitoring what you look at, it’s probably only so that they can cover their ass should someone do something illegal with their free wireless.

  21. Do the police in London can force you to put up a sign at your business?
    Does this really mean they are somehow intercepting all internet communication from that cafe, then checking to see if it is ok?
    I really don’t think they are that advanced..
    You can also lounge around in your apartment in your underwear and have coffee.
    People should just not go to these businesses that have these signs up.

  22. What do you consider as porn in the UK? The Sun has topless page 3 girls every day.

  23. That sign makes me want to go to the cafe to look at porn.

    Some librarians in the US believe that it isn’t proper to forbid people to look at pornography but they will bring a privacy screen to keep other patrons from seeing it.

  24. It’s a nice poster. It just needs a psychedelic paisley background instead of the plain purple.

    I wonder if it is for sale. I can see this being popular on U.S. college campuses in dorms and off-campus housing…as an object in passive ridicule.

  25. I read it as: “All customers agree … that they will not access … any material, or author, transmit or store documents INCLUDING [but not restricted to] emails … of … inappropriate nature.

    Thus, you are not allowed to access any material. If the material is inappropriate, you are still not allowed to access it.

    Am I reading this right?

  26. Another grey area to add to their list of subjective statutes, what is that now ?

    We can get arrested and charged with resisting arrest and nothing else, a paradox.

    We can get arrested for no reason what so ever and be detained indefinitely.

  27. Every sysadmin in the world is monitoring the data that their system’s users are looking at. Doesn’t make it right that this kind of bullshit is acceptable.

  28. Given the way the authorities react to simple public photography, I wonder what they would do if you sat there browsing pictures of local attractions and scenery. Will someone, someday be arrested for sitting in a public place looking at pictures of public places? It sounds absurd, but much of what has been happening lately would’ve sounded absurd just a few years ago.

  29. Funny that they have signs like this in Clerkenwell, yet not in, say, Chiswick. No, absolutely no racial profiling going on here.

  30. I’m pretty sure “extremist” means “Conservative Party material,” or maybe whatever passes for “leftist” over there, depending on the proprietor’s leanings.

  31. I think the real lesson here is that Cory should avoid taking pictures of reflective surfaces while standing directly in front of them.

  32. The scary/bad thing about this poster is its deceptiveness, as a number of people have indicated.

    On the one hand, it is true that the internet cafe can restrict what use you make of their equipment. On the other hand, much of what they seem to be restricting – eg, most pornography – is not illegal, just violates their ‘acceptable use policy.”

    But by having this poster (seem to) issue from the police, and including the phrase about informing the police, they create a sense that a whole range of legal uses of computers and the internet (including looking at hate sites – if you’re not in Germany or Austria – and getting your porn fix for the day) are illegal.


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