UK porn filters may catch other content in its net as well

New reports suggest that the UK porn filter may not restrict itself to just pornographic sites...

There has been a lot of controversy brewing about the recent proposals that UK Prime Minister David Cameron introduced to filter out pornography sites. While he later admitted that there would be problems down the line, the proposals seem unchanged. By the end of the year, all UK-based ISPs will be required to ban sites carrying pornographic content by default, unless the user opts out of the filters

Of course, many have feared that porn may be only of the targets of the government. The Open Rights Group spoke to ISPs and they reported back with examples of what sort of websites and type of content will be blocked by default. The group said, "As we’ve said repeatedly, it’s not just about hardcore pornography." The scathing blog entry on the subject urged UKers to not sleepwalk into Cameron's plans for censorship.

 

While there is speculation about the categories of content that may be filtered in future, a clearer idea can be gained from looking at the system currently run by ISP TalkTalk, which the UK Prime Minister was all praises of a while ago and has had a hand in paving the way for the current filters being put up. The system, called HomeSafe, currently covers several categories, as can be seen below.

UK porn filters may catch other content in its net as well

A look at the catogories that HomeSafe blocks out.

 

The worrisome fact is that any kind of sites which might have the key words related to the filter will be blocked out. For example, if the third box, which talks about blocking file-sharing sites is left ticked, it will not only block out all file-sharing sites, but will also block out sites with the same keywords, like news website TorrentFreak. And other deviations like this are bound to happen in other categories as well. That is the biggest point that critics are bringing to bear: that innocuous sites that should not get blocked will inadvertently get picked up in the net.

 

And another fact, that was revealed by BBC, which raises the level of worry even further, is the fact that the HomeSafe system is the brain child of Huawei, a Chinese company which has been founded by a former China People’s Liberation Army officer.

Last month, the UK government, while quoting as an Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) report, expressed a great deal of concern over the alleged links that exist between Huawei and the Chinese State. While in reality, there may be no nexus between the company and the Chinese State, the crux of the issue is the lack of transparency about the whole process. It must also be noted that UK ISPs are not bound by law to use this particular filtering system.

Tech2 is now on WhatsApp. For all the buzz on the latest tech and science, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Tech2.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.






also see

science