UK's Porn Surfing Filter Continuing to Create Waves

At least one UK ISP is not willing to cooperate, simply calling the scheme 'censorship
At least one UK ISP is not willing to cooperate, simply calling the scheme 'censorship

When prime minister David Cameron announced the imminent launch of the UK's opt-out porn filters to be operated by the major ISPs, he specified TalkTalk as an example of an ISP that has already stepped up to the mark. Embarrassingly, it turns out that TalkTalk's filters are operated by Huawei – the Chinese company whose security is currently being investigated by the UK government.

More worryingly, in a blog posting titled "Sleepwalking into censorship," the Open Rights Group (ORG) has published details of page 2 of TalkTalk's filter form. If the user says yes on the existing 'parental controls' form (remember that the new approach will be an automatic 'yes' unless the user says 'no'), a more granular list of subjects is displayed: pornography, violent material, extremist/terrorist related content, anorexia, suicide, alcohol, smoking, web forums, esoteric material and web blocking circumvention tools.

"What's clear here," writes Jim Killock, executive director of ORG, "is that David Cameron wants people to sleepwalk into censorship. We know that people stick with defaults: this is part of the idea behind 'nudge theory' and 'choice architecture' that is popular with Cameron." 

Shoutout UK goes further. "To me," it writes, "this feels like CISPA in disguise." However, by 'persuading' the ISPs to cooperate willingly, this is a CISPA that has required no parliamentary debate nor democratic vote.

Meanwhile, at least one UK ISP is not willing to cooperate, simply calling the scheme 'censorship.' "It is not our role to try and censor what you do with the internet," says the ISP Andrews & Arnold. "We do not try and log or limit what you are accessing. It is your responsibility to stick to the laws that apply to you. We have no intention of putting in place any censorship systems or using censored transit feeds." It suggests that if the user wants a censored internet, he "will have to pick a different ISP or move to North Korea."

In other news, MP Claire Perry (who led the campaign for opt-out porn filters) had her personal website hacked and defaced with pornographic images. This did not escape the notice of political blogger Guido Fawkes, who published a relatively mild screenshot of the defacement. Ms Perry was not amused. She 'attacked' Fawkes via Twitter, demanding that he take down the link (there was none, it was just a screenshot), accusing him of sponsoring pornography, and threatening to tell his day-job employer (he writes a column in the Sun on Sunday) all about him. All of this has been captured on Storify here

What isn't captured is that Fawkes subsequently asked his readers what he should do. "The people have spoken", he subsequently blogged. "Nearly three thousand of you voted in Guido’s consultation on whether he should sue Claire Perry for defamation after she accused him of 'sponsoring' hackers to post porno pictures on her website. 2,404 co-conspirators said Guido should sue Claire Perry… Reluctantly, Guido has instructed m’learned friends who will be writing to her today…"

And finally, of course, Anonymous launched Operation PornStorm yesterday: "Let's flood the government with porn," it says.

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