UK’s nationwide porn filter will block much more than just porn

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You might have heard that the UK will be blocking porn by default in all households by the end of 2014. But what you might not have heard yet is that this ‘porn’ filter will actually be blocking much more than just that.

According to the Open Rights Group, who has had conversations with a number of ISPs, the parental controls that will be on by default will block things such as:

violent material
extremist and terrorist related content
anorexia and eating disorder websites
suicide related websites
alcohol
smoking
web forums
esoteric material
web blocking circumvention tools

Next to that list of content will be tick boxes which you can check if you’d like it blocked. The thing is, all these boxes along with parental controls are enabled by default. Open Rights Group‘s issue with this is that most people will tend to stick with the defaults and they are saying that UK Prime Minister David Cameron “wants people to sleepwalk into censorship.”

The group suggests that the best way to avoid this would be to give the people an “active choice” by making them choose whether or not they want filtering, with no preset defaults. They’ve even started a petition calling on Cameron to drop the plans.

While I think that the filter could definitely be used for parents with young children, I agree that everyone should be given the “active choice” and not have these options enabled by default.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

[via Open Rights Group, Huffington Post, image via DoctorWho]

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11 comments

  1. Darcy

    I can agree with blocking certain sites for children. Parental controls don’t work well because so many bad websites do not comply with voluntary tagging. For that same reason, this is doomed to failure as well. The UK would have to setup a group dedicated to finding these sites, and adding them to the list, just to get some of them. It would be more effective, but only marginally so IMO, to require sites be properly labeled so Parental Controls will work. Then have that same group looking for sites that fail to label themselves as porn, or whatever, to block completely or close. At least some of those sites will comply to avoid the problems. Most still won’t of course, but it’s a step.

  2. Mike

    Blocking “suicide related sites”–and so that means, suicide PREVENTION sites will be blocked by default?

    Reminds me of the issue U.S.-based websites had in blocked breast-related material: they blocked breast cancer survivor information,

  3. Bub

    Web Forums – Does that include any site with discussion ability, such as DotTech, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and The Guardian?

    You have to opt in to find a support site for people suffering from eating disorders or suicidal depression?

    And “esoteric” is such a possible catch-all.

    I can’t see this being particularly popular.

  4. CJ Cotter

    Porn purveyors often get around local laws by renaming what they are. For example, a sex shop becomes a “lingerie boutique”. Will the porn sites be able to circumvent the filters by renaming themselves?

  5. Coyote

    I’ve yet to hear any mention of websites or hosts having to turn over lists of websites that host any of these materials. Is the UK going to set up a department that constantly scours the web for new porn sites and such? That sounds like a trillion dollar uncompletable task requiring millions of man hours.

    Oh and whats the definition of “esoteric material”. I’m pretty sure everything I find entertaining is in some way esoteric.

  6. Seamus McSeamus

    The whole thing is, IMO, a waste of time. However, if they are determined to implement this, it should definitely be opt-in and not opt-pout. It’s amazing how a porn filter has now evolved into something that will block half the internet.