Some UK ISPs have not blocked child porn sites

Children's charities in the UK have expressed what they call "serious concerns" that some Internet service providers have still not blocked websites showing child sex abuse.

The British government asked ISPs to block child porn, according to a list provided by the Internet Watch Foundation, before the end of 2007. However, 5 percent of broadband suppliers in the UK are still not blocking sites listed by the IWF.

According to BBC News, the NSPCC's Zoe Hilton said, "Allowing this loophole helps feed the appalling trade in images featuring real children being seriously sexually assaulted. Over 700,000 households in the UK can still get uninterrupted and easy access to illegal child abuse image sites."

While the Internet Service Providers Association believes that smaller ISPs have not opted-in because of the costs involved, Zen Internet, one of the ISPs not blocking sites, believes that the system is ineffective.

The company said in a statement, "Zen Internet has not yet implemented IWF's recommended system because we have concerns over its effectiveness. Our Managing Director, Richard Tang, is going to meet Peter Robbins the Chief Executive of the IWF to discuss these concerns."

The system does seem to have its flaws. In December last year, Wikimedia sites were restricted or blocked by some ISPs in accordance with the list provided by the IWF, before the ban was rescinded.

Dr Richard Clayton, a Cambridge computer scientist and long-term critic of the Internet Watch Foundation's work, also believes that it is an ineffective system. "This material tends to be held on paid-for sites or is held by people who don't publish it to the world because they don't want to get arrested," he told the BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones, who writes on the BBC's dot.life technology blog.

"Everybody thinks they've done something by blocking this stuff but in practice it makes very little difference to who sees it and it's quite expensive."

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23 Comments

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Lol, but seriously, where would you even start looking?
I predict typing something obvious like "illegal child porn" into google won't bring up any results!

Why are people so obsessed with child pornography. It was everywhere in the early days of the popular Internet c.1995 -2000. The same in films and on TV, child abuse was sniggered about. Why are Internet users exposed to pornography at all, especially children, with developing minds. It would be very easy for the Internic to move all the "filth" to a separate domain (name) to allow simple filtering by ISP's. End users could request to have pornography enabled. It would then be very easy to shut sites with "illegal" content. Why is this not happening?

Internet child pornography agenda has gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. People choosing to share such material with each other will never be stopped, but it is always handy, in a conviction, when found on a personal computer.

The police do try to go after the people posting the images, but unfortunately the process takes so long, with all the red tape that they have to go through, that by the time they track down an actual physical address, the perverts have moved on. The only one's they actually catch are the idiots. The others know how the internet can work for them, so can cover their tracks, by using stolen credit cards, and spoofed IP addresses etc..

You know, I'm all for censoring child porn, but the incident with wikipedia is exactly the reason why I don't think anything on the internet should be censored at all. Yes, child porn is sick, but who's in charge of what we censor? Someone at the IWF got a bit over-zealous and blocked Wikipedia (well, certain pages on wikipedia), what if they decided that google should be blocked? How about sites like Habbo Hotel where lots of children are known to be? You know, because it puts them in danger. Where do you draw the line?

In 18 years I have never come across anything like this.

So if the government know about such sites then they should be attacking the problem at the source.

the SAS haven't been doing much lately, i say find the sick idiots hosting/posting this and go open a can of secret mission whoopass on them, no matter what country they are in. Going to war over 9/11 was understanable, but saddam didn't really do that, did he? he's dead, osama is still kickin it in his bunker. Go to war with the countries who have such laxxed laws to allow the freaks to operate.
In saying that though, that'd open up a whole bag of worms... 1984 anyone?

anyways they deserve to be shot. in the crotch then left to bleed to death.

I'm all for internet freedom, but the fact that stuff like this exists on the internet sort of proves that we have a population that really does need at least some regulation...

It can be debated whether it's worth the effort though. You don't exactly stumble upon child porn galleries, and pedophiles are conversely likely not browsing the web for their "needs", but using e.g. Freenet and other such anonymizing networks, maybe Usenet too.

If this is an issue where limited resources plays a role, I think I'd actually rather have them try hunt down pedophiles rather than censor web sites.

It is hard to argue the point that this is a worthwhile fight when it comes to resources and funding, but I'm afraid I am forced to argue the point anyway.

My reasoning is just the general nature of humans and the internet. The internet is a vastly huge information highway that consists of pretty much anything anyone can imagine. If you provide people the means to an end, there is no doubt they will at some point use this means for an end that otherwise would not have been even possible.

I'm afraid that there may be some people that are generally good, yet make bad decisions about where and what they do with their time, and what they use the internet and its unlimited amount of potential to do. I am not saying there is quite a few people doing this, but I say that just preventing a few thousand a year from making a huge mistake is completely worth the effort. These are the types of people that will not pursue their search if they are greeted with a "this website has been blocked" message.

I could be wrong, and there may not be people like this, but common sense tells me the inherent nature of human curiosity is sometimes too much for weak willed people to conquer or control. A very prime example of what dangers lurk in the ability to view and share everything on such a powerful technology is the website 4chan. Never before has the world seen such blatant disregard for the emotions of others. The lack of morals that these things bring about in people is truly and completely wrong, and I say if we have to regulate the internet to abolish these terrible things than we should do so.

Oh look, the pedophile bear two posts below this.

Hannes.nz said,
Has someone forgotten what year it is? December last year was not 2007.

Ok I'm confused. Where in the article does it say 2007? The linked article in relation to Wikipedia was posted 7th Dec 08.

Personally I'm glad at least my ISP blocks this kinda thing. Although I wish the other ones would pull their fingers out - can't be that difficult to implement surely?

I think he's referring to:

The British government asked ISPs to block child porn, according to a list provided by the Internet Watch Foundation, before the end of 2007.

@Hannes.nz -

If you are referring to what chris4 said, I'm positive every editor and news reporter would see your comment if you use the 'Report a Problem' feature. The news article comment sections are not for discussing how the article is written, they are for discussing what the article portrays.

If you would like to know how to use this feature or just require more information, please send me a personal message. Thank you.

Do companies not need to pay the IWF to get access to the list?
The member ship fees on there site are up to £20,000.

Shouldn't they be more worried about catching the guys hosting/posting the child porn then wasting money trying to block it all??

ahhell said,
Shouldn't they be more worried about catching the guys hosting/posting the child porn then wasting money trying to block it all??

Only if their concern is reducing the distribution of child pornography. If the goal is something else (like control over what you and I can see on the Internet, or gaining political power) then feel good measures that accomplish little—if anything—are the best way to go about it.

The second part of your statement makes perfect sense to me, they don't seem to be worried about finding the people responsible for the posting and distribution of this garbage but in fact shaping what you in fact have access to on the internet.

l33txp said,
The second part of your statement makes perfect sense to me, they don't seem to be worried about finding the people responsible for the posting and distribution of this garbage but in fact shaping what you in fact have access to on the internet.

I agree if the IWF here in England have a list how about targeting the people who host such evil? I know it's not easy but I'm sure there are agencies (maybe interpol ?) who could help bring these people to justice.

There will be a huge admin over head with this, Also with the threat landscape changing every day I think its really hard to block every bit of child porn going across any network especially with the large scale and millions of users that an ISP has to deal with.

I agree with this, even if there is a list it's like all web filters there is going to some that slip though the net. It's always the case.