Porn Filters Are Questioned

December 20, 2013
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The UK government declared “war on porn” – at least online – and demanded that Internet service providers (ISPs) install filters to block adult entertainment sites. Still, hardcore content slips through while sex education sites and women’s abuse sites are blocked.

Three ISPs, TalkTalk, BT, and Sky, have their filters up and running and more ISPs are expected to raise their fences early 2014.

In a test, Sky seemed to be the most efficient, blocking 99 percent of 68 porn sites tested, but it also blocked six porn addiction sites. BT didn’t do so well, blocking a sexual health center and two domestic abuse services.

porn filters questioned
Censorship at the push of a button

TalkTalk was equally bad, filtering out a 20-year-old sex education site and the site of an Edinburgh-based rape and sexual abuse charity, but allowed access to 7 percent of the porn sites tested.

“It’s really frustrating because I’m trying to provide a sex education site for young people and it’s hard enough directing young people to good quality information on the Internet,” said Justin Hancock, the man behind BishUK. “Who are TalkTalk to say what is allowed and what isn’t?”

Ever since British PM James Cameron declared war on porn and demanded ISPs block certain online content, the ISPs have been saying all along that the sort of results found when the filters were put to the test, was what one might have expected.

A filtering system doesn’t mean that a bunch of employees monitor the internet and manually decided which sites to block and which to allow – an algorithm makes that choice, and it will never be as accurate as a human.

Shortly after the test results were in, all three ISPs were quick to comment: “There is no silver bullet,” TalkTalk; “We know that no one single technology currently provides all the answers,” Sky, and “Categorizations are constantly updated,” BT.

BT filters have three different settings that will allow users to select strict, moderate or light settings, but even the light setting, which covers pornography, obscene and tasteless, hate and self-harm, drugs, alcohol and tobacco, and dating, isn’t working properly.

All of these filters installed by ISPs are designed to protect children from accessing content they shouldn’t be allowed to watch, but maybe, just maybe, responsibility should be put on the parents.

It’s also worth mentioning that if you have managed to read this article we have somehow slipped through the barriers. BaDoink 1 – ISPs’ filters 0. Go BaDoink!

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