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Mon, Oct 17 2011 19:45:32 UTC

UK's new filtering law

Last week, the British Government announced how it's going to be blocking Internet content in the UK, with the help of the four major ISPs over there, reaching around 90% of Internet users. The plan includes provisions to block any adult content, as defined by the ISPs or their blocking partners. Of course, many are seeing fatal flaws in this plan.

First, the filtering will be optional. But people will be asked whether or not they want to be included in the filtering, and will have to make a decision. It's clear that this will be presented as the ''safe'' option, for the children, and the good of humanity. It wouldn't be hard for providers to spin this as the best option to take. Then of course, once this applies to you, there's no way to know fully what is being denied to your household.

Adult content, whether it's porn or otherwise, has been debated for a long time in every civilization. The definition of porn has of course changed over the years as well. In most places, pornography itself is not illegal, and studies show up to 70% of Internet users visit a porn site at least once a month.

But the biggest concern is that if the various artistic communities have been debating where to draw the line between porn and art for so long, how will engineers at Internet companies do it? The answer is pretty simple, they won't. They will be overly-broad, as filtering companies already are today. This means countless sites will be blocked from an entire country, based on the flawed notion that according to someone, somewhere, it's classified as ''adult material''.

Filtering is not something new, and can be very useful for protecting children, as the UK Government argues. But this should be part of an education, and be left up to parents and educators what they consider harmful to their own children. Censorship is never the answer, regardless how it's spun, and the simple fact is filtering will never replace good parenting.

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