Get around the UK's national 'porn filters' with a simple Chrome extension

Earlier this week, leading UK internet service provider (ISP), BT Broadband, announced that it will begin blocking access to adult content by default for new customers, with existing customers being affected by the new policy next year. The move is not one of BT's choosing; it is the result of years of campaigning by special interest groups in the UK.

With the support of Prime Minister David Cameron, ISPs have been told to implement network-level filters to block adult content by default, or face legislation forcing them to do so. Account holders have the option to disable these filters if they wish to view some of the more spicy and stimulating content that the web has to offer, but teenagers, spouses and partners who don't have access to the account holder's login details are, theoretically at least, out of luck. 


Believe it or not, this isn't actually porn.

Theory and practice are, of course, two completely different things. In theory, for example, the filters are only supposed to block genuinely inappropriate and even illegal content. In practice, however, sites that are far from inappropriate or illegal are also being blocked. Examples include rape crisis centres, gay lifestyle (not porn) sites, and even the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community site for one of the UK's political parties, the Liberal Democrats, as Guido Fawkes reports. 

BBC News notes that while some innocent sites are being blocked - including an award-winning sex education site for children that has been running for over twenty years, and a site that deals with domestic abuse - filters are failing to block even some hardcore pornographic sites. 

This state of play creates problems across the board. Responsible adults wanting access to pornographic content have to opt out of the mandatory filters to do so; parents cannot expect the filters that were put in place to protect their children to work reliably; and those wishing to do nothing more than access perfectly legitimate and non-pornographic content are finding their access to entirely harmless sites being blocked. 

It's perhaps unsurprising, then, that a pretty straightforward workaround for the filters has already been created, in the form of a free Chrome extension called 'Go Away Cameron'. 

The extension "will work anywhere, and with any websites that are blocked by firewall, universities, workplaces, nanny filters, or well, censorship", according to its developer. It is described as a "private and smart proxy service to route your access around censorship so you can regain your access to your favourite blocked sites in [the] UK." 

Full details and installation instructions are available here.

As Guido notes, this extension "basically means 15-year olds don't have to tell their mum they want to access porn" - highlighting the folly of the whole approach to restricting access to adult content by default, when the means to circumvent the filters are so embarrassingly simple to use.

Source: Go Away Cameron via Guido Fawkes

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16 Comments

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I thought the whole idea of the 'xxx' tld was to shift over all porn onto that, so it would be simpler for parents to block

Wait... it doesn't work? I'm surprised no one saw this coming! /s

In all honesty, got a mate testing this out and he said he can;t access child and domestic abuse support sites. This is unacceptable.

Of course it works, just like there is no possible way to get to torrent sites in the UK any more...

Politicians aren't very good at tech, but they are wonderfully capable of wasting money on half-baked ideas. Like I keep saying, string the thieving lying ****** lot of them up and be done with it.

And for the person complaining about telling teens how to get around it: Any horny teen these days would heave already figured it out lol

Well done on on advertising this work around to the porn addicts. To say that this highlights the futility of national blocking is a spurious argument. As you rightly say, 15 year olds reading your article can now circumvent any legitimate opt-out blocks due to your presenting it in this forum.

And the vast majority of your readers fall into the age group where porn is considered non-addictive and innocent. Wait until your children reach this age and start watching porn on the sly and see how you feel about it then.

What's that you say? not working? blocking innocent and highly useful sites? not blocking seriously harmful ones? easily bypassed? complete waste of tax money?

it's almost as if this has happened before, or all knowledgeable IT advisers were right.

Oh wait.

Australia
And, every single other attempt at this before no matter how much money was thrown at it, and every attempt there ever will be.

This is nothing but an excuse to throw vast sums of money at some company some politician will have investments in, and/or a vote grab for the gullible.

Any IT guy could have told them that internet filters are hard to implement and manage because there's always some stupid simple way to circumvent it. Use different keywords to do a Google search, memorize the IP address of your favorite site so you don't have to use the URL, use any of a number of proxies, etc, not to mention the fact that if you use keywords you're going to inevitably block a whole slew of innocent websites just because their text contains certain key words or phrases. Hope the Guardian doesn't write an article about "hardcore porn" being blocked by the nanny state, they might trigger something and get themselves blocked,

Enacting a content filter on a national level was a stupid decision in my opinion.

I couldn't agree more... Indeed they are and it doesn't happen overnight or in a couple of months either like the MP would like us all to think. Or is that PM...

I did chuckle at Peter and the donkey...

I like the name of that extension. Cameron is ****, typical prude out of touch Tory censoring stuff. It blocks a lot more than porn though. I also knew that there would be a load of issues with the filtering and it will never work properly. Nothing should ever be censored on the net.

The block is still letting through some porn, blocking legitimate sights, is annoying to opt out of, and has a simple workaround? So basically, it's not satisfying anyone.

I'm sure its satisfying the supporters of censorship, because now they can talk about how ineffective it is in its current state and start pushing through the next round of restrictions.