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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » National internet blocking 'to protect young people'

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Author Topic: National internet blocking 'to protect young people'
Jacob at Scarleteen
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It seems like in the UK the prime minister is urging ISPs to begin blocking adult material by default... It's claimed that it's to protect young people from sexual exploitation and extreme porn.

It appears that these filters could automatically be applied to a much wider range of content, in theory it could include web forums like this one... (or at least it's what this claims: https://www.openrightsgroup.org/blog/2013/sleepwalking-into-censorship )

What do people think of this?

I'm kinda pissed off that this is really an appeal to the fears of parents done in the name of young peole and a publicity stunt by the conservative government and if they really cared about young people's safety they wouldn't have cut youth services to the extent they have and wouldn't have curbed sex education as much as they have.

I also think young people are plenty capable of taking part in these debates instead of being spoken about from a distance.

[ 08-10-2013, 09:38 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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nosalis
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I wouldn't really pay to much attention to David Cameron's anti-porn crusade. Like you said, it really is a publicity stunt designed to appeal to parents and older voters.

It can't be done, in that people who want to access adult material will find ways of getting around any sort of barrier, and furthermore it won't be done because ISPs make a great deal of money off online advertisements for adult material.

In addition, British courts will probably find that pressuring ISPs to block or remove X-rated content is contrary to some Bitish law or principle or European or international agreement and the proposal will be scrapped.

Oven in the USA, in related news the Attorney General of Virginia is attempting to ban consensual oral and anal sex between gay or straight couples, supposedly to protect children from pedophiles (and so he can accuse the challenger for his office as being pro-pedophile), a move so blatantly unconstitutional and unenforceable it's almost funny.

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crathes
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"Protect young people" Yeah, right. I would suspect that it would block sites like this, sites that would help inform and support young people about their health, about abuse that they may be experiencing, and so forth. Not unheard of for "blocking" attempts...

I know there is awful, exploitative stuff out there in terms of some "adult material," so I understand where people are coming from with that aspect of it. But I personally as a young person - just my anecdotal personal experience - have had more trouble with accidentally seeing violent non-sexual material (people thinking it is funny to post graphic photos and so forth) than I have with porn popping up. :/ Not to mention that "extreme" things are in films and TV and other media too...
Look at some of the sexualized violence against women implied or shown in advertising... I think there's other angles and things to consider than just a blanket "block the interwebs pr0n for the younguns!" IMO.

But nosalis is probably right. I hope so anyway. Kind of a vote grab thing I suspect and I don't think it would get too far either.

And that thing with the Attorney General of VA was a joke. I keep wondering if this is really the 21st century, just for someone to actual propose something like that and take it seriously.

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Redskies
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As this came up again, an update:

this has happened. It's a little peculiar, as there's no actual law involved making it happen. Instead, political and some kinds of public pressure pushed the major Internet Service Providers into implementing blocking systems. There aren't blanket blocks: instead, all new customers - and over the course of this year, all existing ones - have to decide whether they want the blocks on certain kinds of content in place on their own internet access or not. The automatic default will be to have the filters on, unless the customer says they do not want them.

One major kind of content there's a filter for is porn. Predictably, as soon as these new systems started, a lot of very not-porn sites were blocked by porn filters: sites including LGBT community, support and information; domestic violence services and information; some sex education sites, including a major NHS-run one. One suitable-for-under-12s-only filter blocked ChildLine. None of these Should have been blocked by porn filters, but they were. Many of the most obvious and major errors were taken off the block-lists fairly quickly, but it's still not encouraging.

Personally, I'm very cynical about the political pressure to put this in place. It's been done in the name of child protection. To me, it's smacked of "wanting to be seen to do something to protect children" in the face of growing public awareness and concern about child abuse and exploitation - and, frankly, a moral panic about porn - while not actually doing things that would Really help, things that would take bigger ongoing changes, effort and money.

One Internet Service Provider has a specific Sex Education filter. Thankfully, that filter is custom-only, and customers have to deliberately choose to activate it. Still, it's pretty objectionable that such a thing exists. I don't think that parents/guardians should have the right or ability to obstruct young people in their care from getting any kind of educational materials, no matter what their own opinions, values and beliefs are.

To the best of my knowledge, Scarleteen isn't on the block-list of any ISP porn filter - and nor should it be! Of course, if anyone finds that we do seem to be - rather than being blocked by the organisation/institution itself - please let us know, as the system for those ISP blocks usually requires the site itself to request removal. (If the block comes from the organisation/institution itself, the right people to take it up with is that organisation.)

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ralphie41
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I know that blanket bans and misguided categorising can be really a bad thing (childLine?! Really?!)
But personally, I think that a filter of some sort can only be a good thing - when I was younger I accidentally found my way onto websites with adult content a couple times, and also deliberately searched it when I did want to- not actually a good idea! One of these times was in school, when I was about 4 - I don't remember the incident but my mum was pretty incensed.
Obviously blocking sex ed sites is NOT GOOD, and anyone who is sure they want access to adult sites can get around filters pretty easy if they're determined enough!
For this reason I find myself in the unaccustomed position of defending David Cameron... [Roll Eyes]

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Heather
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The thing is, parents -- whose job is parenting -- can install filters on machines if they want to do that. You say your Mom was upset, and had she wanted to, and felt concerned, she could have installed filters on the machines at your home.

Same goes for schools: schools can add filters as well.

I can tell you from the sex ed site programming end of things that the same filters applied to porn will usually whack sex ed sites, and they do wind up blocking quite a few users. The ones where countries put them on then result in whole countries being "parented" by their governments and having access limited. There are indeed nations where we rarely, if ever, see users able to come through, so those filters work awfully well and are not so easy for people to navigate around, especially for people who are not highly tech-savvy.

In fact, we have to ask users to watch the way they talk about sex here -- and have to be cautious ourselves -- because even just things like colloquial terms for talking about sex in casual conversation can result in blocks. [Frown]

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OhImpecuniousOne
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I've thought a lot about this issue... and I'm really not in favour of Cameron's approach. Heather is quite right that parents can install filters themselves: my parents did so when I was a teenager. I was irritated when the filter blocked the BBC sex ed website that I frequented at the time; but it was after it blocked hotmail due to some sex-related adverts that I put in the work and figured out how to disable the filter. If ever I contemplated a career in IT, that was the moment.

In an ideal world, I'd like kids to know what sex and porn are, and not find nudity so dang fascinating. I'd like there to be less mystery around sex, so that it was easier to teach kids and teenagers that if they see something inappropriate, they should just close it, and talk to an adult about it if they want to. That way, it really wouldn't matter what content was or wasn't out there, and there wouldn't be such a feeling of competition about seeing the 'most extreme' stuff. If only that could be legislated for. [Wink]

In the real world, though, the whole debate is so full of vagueness that it seems impossible to come up with a decent answer. There's lots of talk about protecting children, but no-one ever seems to explain what children need protecting from; not what material should be off-limits, but what negative impact that material has on young people viewing it. It's ridiculous way of discussing anything - imagine if we handled STI prevention by instructing everyone not to touch anyone else's sexy parts, but refusing to discuss what might happen if they did, or how it might happen.
Rather than being mature and grounded enough to actually consider what negative effects sexual content has on young people (according to studies, not might have or could possibly have or had on this one kid one time), and how those negative effects could be negated or prevented (for example, by providing real, comprehensive sex education so that no-one has to rely on porn to teach them how sex works), politicians and pressure groups would rather push ahead with ill-thought-out measures designed to get political points for "doing something" with the least possible amount of actual research and policy design.

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CosmoKaela
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Scares like this come up all the time, but I don't think they could ever be successful! So many business would come crashing down...with how dependent we are on the internet, I don't think it's something that's really feasible.

Like OP said, I think it's just a publicity stunt to scare parents. Exposure to sex and sexuality is an important part of growing up, whether that's through the internet or otherwise. Kids can't grow up sheltered so much that they don't know what's going on around them -- it's not healthy! On the other end of the spectrum, it's also unhealthy for children to be viewing a lot of things (i.e. porn) before they're ready, as it could cause a number of other issues. However, kids /do/ need exposure to the positive, sex ed, side of things. While it's a parent's job to monitor, I do wish that more parents would be actively involved in teaching their children about the truths of sex!

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OhImpecuniousOne
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It's already law in the UK.
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Redskies
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OIO, is there law? I absolutely agree with your point that the system is already in place! It was my strong impression that it happened through political pressure rather than actual law, and that a few small ISPs were refusing it; that there is no current legislation that requires ISPs to offer filters, although the possibility of future legislation is often talked about. If I'm mistaken, I'd love to know.

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OhImpecuniousOne
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Sorry - you're absolutely right! I should have said that it's implemented, not that it's law.
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Jacob at Scarleteen
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Sadly I feel like this is also perhaps a way of getting people used to ISPs having more control over your content.

Having to log into your ISP web account and select what content you want seems very close to the process where you'd have to selectively pay for access... which in the long run would be even worse for scarleteen, and any low budget projects where young people are directly involed.

Imagine if internet was free when you only had access to facebook, mainstream news sites and youtube and everything else was behind a paywall. I'm pretty sure the average internet user would end up not even noticing the rest of the internet happening. Apparently there's lots of positioning to do stuff like that.

Boingboing always has great commentary about net neutrality:

http://boingboing.net/tag/net-neutrality

[ 06-14-2014, 05:44 AM: Message edited by: Jacob at Scarleteen ]

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