David Cameron promises law to force ISPs to censor a secret blacklist

The UK Prime Minister has doubled down on his Great Firewall of Cameron, which is an arrangement whereby the UK ISPs "voluntarily" agreed to block websites that had been secretly ruled to be pornographic, unless customers specifically asked them not tp.

He made the pronouncement after the EU passed a badly flawed Network Neutrality rule, which he believes will make this sort of filter illegal.

Cameron claims that the EU rules contain a carve-out for his system of secret censorship, and he has promised to make it "the law of the land" so "our children will be protected."

The Great Firewall was a dismal failure, with fewer than 10% opting in — this prompted the move to make them opt out. The Firewall has no set procedures for adding or removing sites, and is notorious for overblocking: information security conferences; the UK Parliamentary committee on rendition and torture; even charities for survivors of sexual abuse and rape crisis centres.

Even if we could all agree on what is, and isn't porn (we can't) there is no boiler room in the world big enough to sort the Web into "porn" and "not porn." There is no regular expression or supervised machine learning algorithm smart enough to do the job. At Web scales, even small margins of error add up to gross miscarriages of justice: overblock one percent of the Web and you've censored more legitimate work than is to be found in any library; underblock one percent of the Internet's porn and you're letting through more pornography than is for sale in all of Soho.

And now this system will be mandatory, in law, forever. For the kids.

During Prime Minister's Questions, Cameron said he realised the knock-on effect from the EU bill over breakfast.

"When I read my Daily Mail this morning, I sputtered over my cornflakes because we worked so hard to put in place these filters," he told fellow MPs.

But as a counter to the EU ruling Cameron reiterated to MPs that it was "vitally important that we enable parents to have that protection for their children".

Cameron continued: "I can tell the House that we will legislate to put our agreement with internet companies into the law of the land so that our children will be protected."

According to the prime minister the government "secured an opt-out" from the EU to allow the "family friendly filters" to continue for now. It isn't yet clear when the new law will be introduced.

Automatic porn filters to be made 'law of the land'
[Matt Burgess/Wired UK]

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