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EG in this news story.

Who ARE these women? How were they chosen? Why didn't they ask ME? Have the women they asked experienced the annoyance of finding useful information and innocent material randomly blocked, without, at the same time, actually screening out stuff that makes you go EEEW? (I recently had to replace the 'national lottery funded' logo on an extremely earnest and 100% childsafe website, because school automated filters were unable to tell that the logo did not mean the website was about gambling...)

For that matter if 77% of women (British women, one assumes) think a default filter is useful, then why not just use one?  Why the need for legislation?   Nobody is telling people they can't use filters if they want them, but why should they be default and implemented at the network level?  

 I've got no particular brief for porn, but what's porn, what's art, what's archaeology and what's medical diagrams is rather in the eye of the beholder...  A comprehensive ISP-level autofilter seems like it would be an arsepain.

 I can just hear the calls now from worried clients that have somehow managed to make their own websites accidentally X-rated.   And god help the poor souls on the tech support line trying to sort out the family disputes, or trying to explain why Little Johnny has still managed to navigate his sweaty little mouse to see something of which Mum disapproves... 

 I would of course request that my own internet access should be filterless so I can get to everything I need to, which probably will end up putting me on some sort of Government Deviant List...

Expensive professional porn is mostly behind filters to try to prevent customers getting their jollies for free anyway - or, it always has been when I've been unfortunate enough to have to work on that sort of content. But when it comes down to it, when everyone has got a body and a camera, and a terrifying number of people also have access to Photoshop, the only way to reliably distinguish porn from family photos is telepathy.  Amateurs don't tag or describe content reliably. That's why they are amateurs... 

It says a lot that Talk Talk are the only British ISP prepared to implement a policy of default filtering without being pushed into it by Nanny Government. Talk Talk, presented with a brewery and an eager audience chanting 'Piss Up! Piss Up! Piss Up!' would probably attempt to organise an exhibition of experimental dance, or possibly a nice game of rounders.


( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
14th May, 2012 06:28 (UTC)
LOL especially Talk Talk, that would be my experience, (thankfully from a distance when my parents signed up to them briefly) too.

As to a Government deviant list, if you were to end up on such a thing, you'd probably find you were joined by half the government.

As you say, why not use your own filters? I can only presume some people don't know how to do that. We had someone at work last week who wanted a new email address so that all of the messages from a particular sender wouldn't clutter up her inbox. Since this was sent to the board I was on, for approval, I suggested maybe someone just showed her how to use Outlook rules. I bet she voted for the filter...
14th May, 2012 09:53 (UTC)
Very true ... people who don't know how to use filters or technology generally do often reach out for solutions that are not appropriate, but you'd kind of hope that education rather than technology legislation would be the answer there.
14th May, 2012 08:28 (UTC)

Most fan fiction and a lot of fan art would be blocked!

When I lived on a boat, the only way to get internet access was via a Vodafone card (it was cutting-edge technology in those days). By default, Vodafone applied a truly Draconian content filter, which actually blocked my own website, including my email account. You could turn it off online, but the service was so poor and the Vodafone website so complex, it wouldn't load, so I had to go into the Vodafone shop and ask them to turn adult content on.

Even then, whenever their database died, which was most of the time, the filter came on "because they couldn't tell who had turned it off and who hadn't." Pointing out to them that this was a totally bullshit policy just got me earfuls of 'patient' repetition: "we can't tell who's turned it off and who hasn't."

[I write manuals for a computer security company, & I did see, a few years ago, a filter designed to stop employees surfing for porn. It could distinguish between naked humans and, say, pigs, it could tell photos from paintings, and it looked at the arrangement of limbs to determine whether something was 'porn' or just a photo of the family on the beach. Someone, though, had had to train it, showing it thousands of images and classifying them as porn or not-porn :-) ]
14th May, 2012 09:58 (UTC)
Lol at the porntrainers, now there's a job would put you off sex if ever there was one...

I've come across stuff like that, but I don't think it solves the real problem - particularly with relation to children in particular, which is that what is porn is in the brain, not in the picture. There are people who get off, IDK, looking at shoes. The nasty people who are a potential risk may well find the innocent family seaside snap horribly arousing, and are much more of a real problem than some 15 year old who has found a photo of a lady's furry bits.

But yeah, the enforcement is bound to be screwed up as well. It's just a bad idea.
14th May, 2012 08:56 (UTC)
I read an interesting article recently (about politicians and the internet IIRC) which drew a distinction between people who use the internet habitually, constantly and most importantly genuinely interactively (which probably includes almost everyone on LJ) and people who really only use it as consumers (e.g. via iPlayer and a bit of shopping and very occasionally looking up facts). These are people who may well have broadband connections but, for instance, prefer to text than use email to the extent that they don't ever use email (I find nearly all the parents of G's friends fall into this category - the fact I use email rather than texts sufficiently throws them that they complain they are unable to RSVP to invitations (even when I list snail mail address, land line and email)).

The article made a very compelling case that most people (including most politicians) fall into this category and the frustrations of not being able to access content, or getting accidentally black-listed are completely opaque to them.
14th May, 2012 10:02 (UTC)
That's an interesting distinction. I think there are measures of engagement, but I don't know a lot about them at that level - can you remember where you read it?
14th May, 2012 10:23 (UTC)
I think this is it though its not saying quite what I remember it saying *g* and certainly does not appear to be based on any actual data.

It's certainly my experience, particularly of parts of B's family and, as I say, school parents, that while they have broadband, the computer sits in a corner of the living room and having to access or work with the internet is considered effort and in some senses difficult and inconvenient.
14th May, 2012 10:56 (UTC)
Oh, thanks. Hmm. I think I agree most with the commenter who makes the point about the division being on a scale, and most political decisions on all topics being made with an element of bungling, by the uninformed.
(Deleted comment)
14th May, 2012 09:51 (UTC)
I think it's a valid question to be asking, but I think a networklevel filter is not an answer to the problem.

I don't think it will effectively protect children, and I DO think it will cause parents and carers to stop thinking about the issue because they assume it has been solved by technology. Which it won't be.

I don't think looking at violent porn is anything like as dangerous as, say, friending people you have never met and know nothing about on Facebook. People are looking the wrong way for the risk.
(Deleted comment)
14th May, 2012 10:13 (UTC)
I don't think it's a matter of protecting people who can't protect themselves, I think it's legislation that will create the impression of protection without actually protecting anyone. That seems to me phenomenally dangerous.

Say you have someone who is growing up a bit odd, and is liable to be damaged by viewing violent porn. Will this stop him seeing it? I don't think it will. Deprived kids very often end up watching, say TV and films that are marked as unsuitable for their agegroup, because they don't have the parental protection they need.

I suspect if this was implemented, in 20 years a survey will find that kids who grow up to have violent sex problems are more likely to come from homes with unregulated internet, but that won't be cause, it will be correlation - those are the homes that weren't monitoring their kids access anyway, that were leaving adult DVDs around the living room, smoking round the kids, etc etc.

14th May, 2012 10:37 (UTC)
As a parent, and having been through various rounds of trying to filter my daughter's access to online content, we've ultimately found the most effective filter is discussing appropriate and inappropriate content with her and she has, in fact, become a great deal more prudish than we are about what she considers acceptable. Her school has also run through a lot of dos and don'ts about internet usage which, I assume, is part of some kind of national drive and again means she is careful about things like accepting friend requests on the various age appropriate social networking sites she uses (Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters).

Obviously I'd be happier if her chances of running across simulated Mario rape on YouTube were non-existent but I have rapidly come round to the view, supported by my in-laws who have older children, that the problems are pretty minimal if you are open and honest with your children (without thrusting information upon them they aren't old enough to deal with), and make it clear what you expect of their online behaviour. On the whole I'd prefer it if this was something parents and schools were expected to handle and was a part generally of teaching children to behave responsibly online, rather than something imposed nationally at a network level.

We could after all, ban cars from urban environments which would probably save at least 100 children's lives per year, but we don't. Instead we teach our children to cross the road safely.
14th May, 2012 09:56 (UTC)
It's a classic case of asking the wrong question, or at least not asking the correct follow-up question. Or perhaps not giving the appropriate background.

Q1: Would you like pornography to be filtered out by default, with 100% success rate and no false positives?

A1: Yes please!

Q2: We can't do it, you know, it's completely impossible. It'll all go horribly wrong and cause no end of problems if we try, but do you want us to have a go anyway?

A2: Ummm.... is "Maybe" an option?

Q3: If you think it's a good idea, why do you want us to impose it on other people when you could do it for yourself now?

A3: Can you put me down as "Don't know/Undecided" for that one?
14th May, 2012 10:04 (UTC)
Oooooh so true.

I really think the only place one could reliably place a porn filter would be in the brain of the viewer. Electric shock pants mandatory for all net users, perhaps. :-D
14th May, 2012 18:00 (UTC)
Electric shock pants mandatory for all net users, perhaps.

Not sure that that would be entirely effective, in fact it would be a positive encouragement to some sections of society :-)
15th May, 2012 07:53 (UTC)
Hmmm, I have a horrible feeling you are right! :-D
14th May, 2012 16:53 (UTC)
I lack the energy to do any sort of insightful or meaningful comment, but I just wanted to say that your final sentence made me laugh out loud. :-D
15th May, 2012 08:08 (UTC)
:-D I think their target market sector is best described as 'gullible'.
17th May, 2012 18:42 (UTC)
Me too :-)
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )

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