Wikipedia Founder derides UK porn filters, says they "won't work"

The UK government's internet censorship program has been met with a lot of negative feedback from a lot of critics now including the Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

 The 46 year old has joined the critics of David Cameron's porn policies, dubbing them absolutely ridiculous. He stated that the technology needed to implement the filter simply wouldn't work.

Attacking it's very concept, he notes that the idea that such a filter would deter paedophiles is ludicrous. He points out that under this policy, all a "paedophile" would have to do would be simply to request his ISP to give him access to porn legally, defeating its purpose.

Additionally when we use cases of a paedophile who's been addicted to child porn videos online, you realise all that Cameron's rules would require him to do is opt in and say, 'Yes, I would like porn please'

Wales instead argues that the prime Minister should instead divert the funding being used to implement this program into the police, allowing them to enforce existing laws instead of doing something akin to chasing shadows with flashlights.

Several other critics call for stricter parenting and policing instead of what is seen as a vastly heavy handed and puritanical approach.

The porn ban is to be implemented by all UK ISPs by the end of the year requiring all users who want access to porn to have to "opt in" as pornography is now disabled by default.

The Government claims that the reason for the compulsory filter is the fact that children have easy access to porn on the internet though their mobile phones and computers, disregarding the fact that similar filters exist on an opt in basis across ISPs today as well as the fact that all phones also get a porn filter in their browsers.

Source: International Business Times

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I don't see this as a bad thing so long as parents don't get complacent with it. It is not a replacement for monitoring what your kids do.

I wonder what happens here if a paedophile tries to get on child porn, can't, opts in to view porn, can. Is that not, in a roundabout way, advocating the viewing of child porn? It's ALMOST a reassurance for them that it's okay to do that, because they could argue 'it was blocked before, but it's not now, so it must be okay.'

On the flip side, what will happen when some porn manages to get through the block? I can almost hear the cha chings from all the lawyers already...

The must disturbing part of this concept of "opt-in" porn filters is that you'll end up in some registry just because you want to watch legal porn. It's ridiculous. Registries tend to leak every now and then.

When a government is willing to start make it inconvenient to watch parts on the Internet that is legal, all bets are off as for what that government is willing to do in the future. It's a very slippery slope.

Whether it works or not does not matter at this point. It is about incremental changes. This is a much easier sell than a complete block with no opt out. It is much easier to push this through knowing enough people will accept it because it is an optional block. Once they've got their foot in the door ground work is laid. The next topics of discussion will only be about stricter controls. e.g. 'Hey this isn't working at all we need to be more aggressive'. Fewer and fewer people will talk about scrapping the whole thing once it's accepted as the norm.

I like how someone who is supposed to know how ISP filters works thinks that opting in will allow access to CP when it isn't if you don't. That Wales of all people conflates the issue of having to opt-in to view legal material with already criminal activity is astounding.

Well - how comes an Underage can make a contract with a ISP anyways? And is the Contractholder not responsible for the use of the contract?

thats the point .. there parents are responsible.. but well.. in your world your state is taking care of everything so you dont need to think about anything any more.. great..it has to work on some people.. good for you. bad for the people who believe in free will

It should be up to the subscriber to ask their ISP to put the filter on their account. Instead of forcing everyone to ask for the filter removed.

Do people not read these days? Everywhere has stated the exact same thing. These filters are at the ISP and the user can have them disabled if they want to be able to view porn. This isn't some attempt to keep all porn out of the country so stop acting like it is and actually read about what you are complaining about. Half of the comments we are seeing about this belong in the conspiracy section. There is no conspiracy. They are not blocking you from seeing your porn if you want to see it. You don't need workarounds because this doesn't make viewing porn illegal nor is it trying to block it complete.

ILikeTobacco said,
Do people not read these days? Everywhere has stated the exact same thing. These filters are at the ISP and the user can have them disabled if they want to be able to view porn. This isn't some attempt to keep all porn out of the country so stop acting like it is and actually read about what you are complaining about. Half of the comments we are seeing about this belong in the conspiracy section. There is no conspiracy. They are not blocking you from seeing your porn if you want to see it. You don't need workarounds because this doesn't make viewing porn illegal nor is it trying to block it complete.

I agree. As a parent, who uses opendns to remove as much as I can, I look forward to another level of protection. I wholeheartedly support this, with out any concerns about child porn, or anything like it. I don't want porn, and another step to access it is, imo, a good thing.

As a responsible parent I take care of the parental controls myself and would rather not delegate it to somebody else and hope for the best. It's just as bad as the parents who blame fast food places for the kids getting fat or video games when their kids do something violent.. how about being responsible instead of just sitting back and acting surprised when something goes wrong and blaming everybody except the people who are actually at fault... the parents.

There's a few ISP's here in Holland that have exactly the same. And even goes beyond just porn, has entire categories of things that can be blocked at the ISP level, protocols, keywords, ip's, dns, everything.
Its not a bad thing if you have a family with children.

As a web user I support the idea of the filter, if we have to have one, being opt-in. True, it still means that every URL is verified against lists but at least that means one of the lists is of those who don't want <insert content type here>.

I have no support whatsoever for imposed censorship or those who can't exercise it for just themselves.

Max Norris said,
..
If you are that concerned that those people won't do it right, opt out, enable porn on from your ISP, and then filter it yourself. Nothing is stopping you from managing it yourself. This just gives you one more layer of protection for your kids. This doesn't negatively effect anyone that wants to see the filtered content because they can still choose to do so. If there wasn't the ability to opt out, I would be 100% against it but that is not the case with what is being discussed here.

ILikeTobacco said,
If there wasn't the ability to opt out, I would be 100% against it but that is not the case with what is being discussed here.

That's the thing.. it's just rolling over and accepting Internet censorship and acting as it's a good thing. It's not. You shouldn't have to ask permission to view things that the government defines as questionable. Besides, it's just setting an unhealthy precedent for further censorship down the road, tin foil aside it has all sorts of ways it can be abused in the future. Never mind again, it's just an excuse for parents to use when they fail at their job of parenting. Instead of bitching and moaning that the government should regulate what they can and can't do, how about stepping up and acting like a parent in the first place? It's a lot more effective than a censorship program that doesn't work and just costs money, both from the government end and the ISP end so it's good odds the customer will be hit twice.

That just means this is twice as good. It will make parents have to decide to either start being parents or pay the price. You still haven't said anything that is based in reality and are resorting to a slippery slope argument. It really is as simple is call in, remove the filter, live your life. Stop acting that it will require an act of god to get access to your porn with this.

ILikeTobacco said,
That just means this is twice as good. It will make parents have to decide to either start being parents or pay the price. You still haven't said anything and are resorting to a slippery slope argument. It really is as simple is call in, remove the filter, live your life. Stop acting that it will require an act of god to get access to your porn with this.

You're completely missing the point, never mind advocating censorship and and promoting bad parenting... if the government allows it, so it must be safe yea? Wrong. You shouldn't have to call and beg for access to something you're supposed to be able to access in the first place, porn or otherwise. Why not have a government agent hanging over your shoulder, then it'll be three times as good. Doesn't make it right.

So when you move into a new house, it automatically has internet, water, electricity, cable, and all that other stuff turned on? You don't have to call and ask for access to it because you're suppose to be able to access it in the first place? When you turn your service on, tell them you don't want the filter and the problem is solved. Where are you getting beg from? Do you actually believe they are going to argue with you when you call in and say no, beg us first and then we will take your money? Please come back to reality or this debate is over.

ILikeTobacco said,
So when you move into a new house, it automatically has internet, water, electricity, cable, and all that other stuff turned on?

Of course not, don't try and twist this argument into something idiotic.
ILikeTobacco said,
You don't have to call and ask for access to it because you're suppose to be able to access it in the first place? When you turn your service on, tell them you don't want the filter and the problem is solved.

Again, you're justifying censorship. What happens when they decide it's in the best interest of the general public to censor something else? Oh that's ok, just call up and ask them to unblock it too. Who knows, maybe down the road they'll make it so you can't unblock it. They're already doing it with TBP, precedent's been set. Oh that's ok, I'm sure they have our best interest at heart, and shame on anyone who feels otherwise because "obviously" it has to be illegal to begin with.

ILikeTobacco said,
Please come back to reality or this debate is over.

It already is, you can't debate with somebody who's blindsided and advocating more government censorship like it's a good thing.

According to your "reality" giving parents one more way of blocking harmful content is advocating bad parenting. In the real world, give tools to parents to allow them to better parent is called advocating better parenting. Your entire argument is about a slippery slope. What is being discussed here is to have ISP's filter content and be able to opt out of that filter. You are arguing against filtering content and not being able to opt out of the filter even though nobody is advocating that. Like I said, since you can't still to reality and what is actually happening, not a hypothetical which you keep trying to claim is what is actually happening, this debate is over. Helping parents protect there kids is not a bad thing so you already lost the debate when you claimed it was. Next you would claim that porn ads should run during the day time on childrens tv channels and if kids see it, its the parents fault for not being better parents. Completely nonsense from you.

ILikeTobacco said,
According to your "reality" giving parents one more way of blocking harmful content is advocating bad parenting.

No, bad parenting is being completely oblivious to what your kids are doing in the first place instead of trusting some random entity to do your job for you.

ILikeTobacco said,
Your entire argument is about a slippery slope.

Yes it is a slippery slope. It's two prime examples of government censorship and people bending over and taking it without argument when there are perfectly good alternatives, and it just opens up the door for even more.

ILikeTobacco said,
Like I said, since you can't still to reality and what is actually happening, not a hypothetical which you keep trying to claim is what is actually happening, this debate is over.

Since I have kids and I do take an active role in what they're able to access, it's firmly based in reality. This is yet another example of the UK employing censorship, it is actively happening. Burying your head in the sand and saying it's ok is just stupid.

ILikeTobacco said,
Next you would claim that porn ads should run during the day time on childrens tv channels and if kids see it, its the parents fault for not being better parents. Completely nonsense from you.

Nonsense from me? That's probably the most retarded thing I've heard today. And yes, I do control what they have access to on TV. The receivers have this little option to filter based on rating and/or channel. Active parental filtering with no government forcing it down anybody's throat, and it's effective. Neat, huh? Any other brilliant examples?

Max, you fail to understand that a blanket ban i have control over is part of parenting. I also like the government to regulate all kinds of other things, so I find that point moot. I have no issue with some censorship. So i don't really care about that one either. Me liking some government regulation and not having an issue with pornography censoring doesn't make me a bad parent, it makes me a different parent than you. I'm not living in a pretend land where i can stop them ever seeing porn, but I set the expectation of what good behavior is acceptable in my house, and that isn't it. When they have their own houses, they can make that decision for themselves.

Max Norris said,

No, bad parenting is being completely oblivious to what your kids are doing in the first place instead of trusting some random entity to do your job for you.
This is why I know you are full of it and just arguing for the sake of arguing. Please quote where someone said that parents should be oblivious to what kids are doing and ONLY trust in some random entity. You can't because nobody did. I am saying use this as one more level of protecting. You are saying take this and only this to protect your kids. That is just as retarded as your idea that any help to do their job is a bad thing. You are just trolling now and I am done with your nonsense. You can't even keep your argument in this reality and keep resorting back to conspiracy theories and what if's instead of talking about what is actually going on. Seriously, read what you are commenting about since you clearly have absolutely no idea what this is about.

Worst case scenario, once they realise it won't work, they will turn to a white-list solution. Ban everything by default and allow only what they think is "good" for you. -_-

Agreed 100%. It's been proven over time that when you deprive people from something, it will make them thirstier of wanting it. This is because when you have it, in your subconscious you know that you won't lose it. So when you do, you start looking for it again to fill that blank space. Same happened with beer, coffee, rum, and others...

Which means that it wouldn't surprise me if porn rates would increase on the UK.

Good thing this has nothing to do with depriving people from viewing porn if they are of age and the account holder at the ISP then huh?

I would like to also point out that every single windows computer has powerful parental controls built in. Maybe an educational campaign for parents would be more effective when it comes to protecting the children, that is if that is the reel agenda here.

Bingo -- it should fall to the parents to block stuff. The tools are already there. OSX has similar functionality, and I'm reasonably sure there's a couple solutions available for Linux based systems as well.

It wont work, because the government have no say in whats blocked. The main aim of this filter is not to help parents.

IT IS TO MAKE NEW LAWS UP AND GIVE THEM MORE POWER/CONTROL. Sure they could do as you said, then nothing changes. With this filter however they can block stuff as they wish with no court orders and play with the net to make some cash with investors.

Example: PG tips rings up the government and says oi block the tetley tea site and we will sponsor your next campaign to get you back into power.

Even if stuff is only blocked by "a mistake" (this is what they will say same bull**** as normal) the damage has been done. Block anything for a few seconds even it will loose some business / hits and job done. "mistakes can happen".

But yeah this is not about control for parents make no mistake this is just a plan to give the government's more control.

I agree with him. It's like DRM, People that use porn legally and legitimately won't be able to, and people that really intend to access underground stuff will find other ways of getting it.

What? Yes they will. The filter is not designed to stop you from viewing porn if you want to view porn. It is designed to not automatically show porn. Seriously people, stop making up rumors. This is not a filter that is designed to stop all porn viewing. Read the sources before posting this fud. It clearly stated in everywhere that you can disable the filter if you are the account holder at the ISP.

one question - what would stop parents from enabling this for their children or .. wait for it - teach their children how to use the internet? You clearly dont get the point the people have here

You seem to one not understanding what you are reading. People are complaining that they will have to use workarounds to get to legal material when that is a blatant lie. Please read the comments you are responding to before posting.

ILikeTobacco said,
What? Yes they will. The filter is not designed to stop you from viewing porn if you want to view porn. It is designed to not automatically show porn. Seriously people, stop making up rumors. This is not a filter that is designed to stop all porn viewing. Read the sources before posting this fud. It clearly stated in everywhere that you can disable the filter if you are the account holder at the ISP.

It's still pointless censorship, most people aren't going to phone their ISP and ask them to remove a porn block, and criminals will find a way around it. Besides, a blanket filtering of porn is not going to help the issue of sexual abuse because the point of underground sites is just that... They are UNDERGROUND, as in operating outside the law.

Your first claim: people aren't going to remove the block... which means it doesn't effect them so it is an irrelevant point.
Second claim: criminals will find a way around it. So because people will find ways to get around it and do what they planned on doing anyway, we shouldn't do anything at all to try and fix the issue. The same could be applied to obesity and other health issues, gun control, education, etc. Let's not do anything about any of the problems because people will find a way around it. That makes sense.

you are the one who doesnt get the hole point of censorship and how to live free .. of course i can ask my isp to unblock me.. but why does the government have the right to block the whole country in the first place.. and where do they stop block content? dont make it be a good thing .. it is not

You do know how voting works right? When you voted them into office, you gave them that right. And it isn't a good thing. It also isn't a bad thing. It is a neutral thing. If you don't like it, opt out. If you do, don't. Problem solved.

Also, I doubt you know how living free works. Before this, you can legally view porn. After this, you can legally view porn. If all of a sudden you are not free after this, that means you are not free already since nothing changed.

ILikeTobacco said,
Your first claim: people aren't going to remove the block... which means it doesn't effect them so it is an irrelevant point.
Second claim: criminals will find a way around it. So because people will find ways to get around it and do what they planned on doing anyway, we shouldn't do anything at all to try and fix the issue. The same could be applied to obesity and other health issues, gun control, education, etc. Let's not do anything about any of the problems because people will find a way around it. That makes sense.

You're still missing the point, the point being that this blanket censorship won't help because it doesn't target the real causes of the problems.

-adrian- said,
you are the one who doesnt get the hole point of censorship and how to live free .. of course i can ask my isp to unblock me.. but why does the government have the right to block the whole country in the first place.. and where do they stop block content? dont make it be a good thing .. it is not

Sadly, the tories are becoming every bit like their "conservative" counterparts in the more backwards parts of the states. Terrified of sexual expression. The price our people pay for electing idiots.

Javik said,

It's still pointless censorship, most people aren't going to phone their ISP and ask them to remove a porn block, and criminals will find a way around it. Besides, a blanket filtering of porn is not going to help the issue of sexual abuse because the point of underground sites is just that... They are UNDERGROUND, as in operating outside the law.

LOL, underground sites? you're having a laugh, the site most pedos use to groom children is the popular social sites, such as Facebook, and I can bet that won't be banned. Parents will still throw the child on the computer and let it baby sit for them, even more so when they get told all the bad stuff has been removed from the internet by default.

ILikeTobacco said,
You do know how voting works right? When you voted them into office, you gave them that right. And it isn't a good thing. It also isn't a bad thing. It is a neutral thing. If you don't like it, opt out. If you do, don't. Problem solved.

Also, I doubt you know how living free works. Before this, you can legally view porn. After this, you can legally view porn. If all of a sudden you are not free after this, that means you are not free already since nothing changed.

Well, the majority of the country didn't vote them in to power. They sided with another group, who by the way got the least votes over all, to create a coalition to gain a majority. No one asked for it. No one wanted it except 2 men, who now are trying to run the country and dictate what little feedoms we have left.

The problems with opt-ing out, is you're then on record for doing something that's not illegal and the information gathered and used, can at some point be used against you for what ever reason.

But this ban on porn 'to save the children' isn't just porn is it. Nope. It's a load of other things and Cameron is just using the children as an excuse. It's an excuse to get the filtering systems in place so they can monitor any and all content you view.

Your viewing habbits, what sites you've been 'blocked' from looking at and if you've opt-out will be recorded, and leaked at some point, and it's not going to help children at all.
Violence, nudity, racism and the rest of it is all over the TV, their sports, music and the common sites such as Facebook etc where the filters won't apply.
It certainly isn't going to stop apps such as snapchat where kids regularly share naked images of themselves with strangers.

It won't be now, but after a few months/a year after the filter has been in place where we'll see cameron and the government using it for alternative motives, and of course we'll see leaks of certain MPs who've opt-in via the new papers. It'll be scandalised... and then sex itself will be given a bad name... all the while, MPs will still be playing bondage with their gimp masks while getting flogged with apples stuck in their mouths.

Edited by sagum, Aug 3 2013, 7:44pm :

So people are in power that nobody voted for... right. What kind of election is it that you have there if the people nobody voted for are the ones that win the election... please stop with the slippery slope and conspiracy crap. There is an entire section of Neowin dedicated to that and this isn't it.

ILikeTobacco said,
So people are in power that nobody voted for... right. What kind of election is it that you have there if the people nobody voted for are the ones that win the election... please stop with the slippery slope and conspiracy crap. There is an entire section of Neowin dedicated to that and this isn't it.

Didn't say no body voted for them. To win the election they have to gain a majority of votes in each area of the UK. They didn't. They had to side with one of the other party groups to gain a majority over the party in power at the time.

The party with least votes could have sided with either of the remaining parities, but they chose the party we have in power now, rather then the existing government.
The power of government in the end was decided by two men... or rather 1 man, the party leader who had the least votes since he wouldn't talk to the leading government at the time.

Not a conspiracy, but very messed up. But that's just how it is, and will probably happen again with the next general election.

sagum said,

LOL, underground sites? you're having a laugh, the site most pedos use to groom children is the popular social sites, such as Facebook, and I can bet that won't be banned. Parents will still throw the child on the computer and let it baby sit for them, even more so when they get told all the bad stuff has been removed from the internet by default.

Given that this measure is aimed at making it harder to find child porn I stand by my comment.

OFC it wont work! You can disable them. They will be on by default but you will be able to just login to your online control panel (the place you can pay bills online, buy new contracts or seek help.) and just disable it.

I am sure the "great firewall of the UK" will be abused by the government and the corporations putting money into government. (most likely legit sites being blocked to redirect users to sites they make money from).

It's a shame but what did you expect we are human, we are greedy we get brought up learning to take and take as much resource as we can. The internet was clearly going to be the focus of peoples greed.

Ill give it 5 years until the firewall is permanent and then ISP's will start offering none filtered lines for extra costs. Or even worse "View this website for just 50p" when you visit a site deemed unfit.

MrAnalysis said,
OFC it wont work! You can disable them. They will be on by default but you will be able to just login to your online control panel (the place you can pay bills online, buy new contracts or seek help.) and just disable it.

There's also a number of other ways to get around it too if you don't have access to disable it. (Or just don't want to have the awkward "I would like some porn plz" phone call with the ISP.) Kind of surprised the pro-censorship types haven't figured that out yet, TBP is a good example of how well it doesn't work.