UK Prime Minister David Cameron (and his thin-skinned, slandering advisor Claire Perry) have been cynically appealing to the Tory's reactionary base by promising to purge the British Internet of porn with a Chinese style, opt-out Great Firewall. Cameron has held out the UK ISP TalkTalk as a paragon in this regard, praising its "Homesafe" blocking product.
Now the BBC reports that Homesafe was built by Huawei, the Chinese IT giant Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in China's People's Liberation Army. Huawei has been characterized by senior Western spooks as an arm of the Chinese intelligence service, conducting industrial espionage on its behalf.
A poorly understood feature of censorship software is that it is also surveillance software. In order to stop you from clicking on "bad" things, it must intercept all of your clicks and examine them to make sure they're not on the blacklist.
Initially, TalkTalk told the BBC that it was US security firm Symantec that was responsible for maintaining its blacklist, and that Huawei only provided the hardware, as previously reported.
However, Symantec said that while it had been in a joint venture with Huawei to run Homesafe in its early stages, it had not been involved for over a year.
TalkTalk later confirmed it is Huawei that monitors activity, checking requests against its blacklist of over 65 million web addresses, and denying access if there is a match.
The contents of this list are largely determined by an automated process, but both Huawei and TalkTalk employees are able to add or remove sites independently.
(Image: David Cameron - not Prime Minister yet - in a Broadcasting House lift, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from bowbrick's photostream)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.