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Content filtering is stupid, but you are stupider

There’s been masses and masses of fuss over the last couple of days about the implementation of opt-out content filtering for porn in the UK.

As everyone sensible argued in great detail at the time the PM promised it following a Massive Stupid Media Panic, content filtering is pointless: it’s easy to bypass, provides a false sense of security, leads to false positives so that sex education sites get blocked, and puts the infrastructure in place for a more Daily Mail-friendly government to run wider censorship modes.

However, and unfortunately, most of the last couple of days’ Twitter chat about content filtering has involved gibbering idiots who know fuck all about fuck all talking embarrassing nonsense.

O2, one of the UK’s larger ISPs, has thoughtfully provided a tool so you can see how your website is categorised.

Here’s this website:
Untitled

Like all websites, it’s allowed on the opt-in “open access” feed (where you tick the “I am a dirty whoremonger” box). Like nearly all websites, it’s allowed on the default “default safety” feed (if you leave the “I am a dirty whoremonger” box unchecked). And, like nearly all websites, it is blocked under O2′s opt-in-only under-12 filtering scheme, whose aim is to create a walled garden of whitelisted CBeebies-ish tiny-friendly sites which won’t produce unfortunate results when your kitten-loving sproglet searches for “i love little pussy”.

Because people are monumentally stupid, and crowds even more so, the fact that almost all websites show up as blocked under the under-12 filtering scheme has led to claims that they are blocked under the default filters. Which they aren’t. Almost every tweet today about a website being blocked has been a fuckwit claiming that a website is blocked under the default filter, when it’s actually blocked only on the whitelisted kiddy-friendly filter.

This is not to say that the default filter isn’t problematic. It is problematic. Because it focuses on sex, it is inevitably going to fail hardest at the areas of sex where young people (especially LGBTQ young people) most need information and resources. But if you’re wanking on about how your blog or Wikipedia or the Guardian or basically anything non-sexual has been blocked, then you are a fucking idiot and you are not helping and you should shut up.

  1. tommy5dollar
    December 23, 2013 at 2:25 am | #1

    "i love little pussy" doesn't bring up anything dirty anyway :(

    • John B
      December 23, 2013 at 2:29 am | #2

      Probably for the best…

  2. dsquared
    December 23, 2013 at 8:10 am | #3

    I have also seen plenty of people who have mistaken the fact that the system has a "sex education" category (presumably so that parents have the ability to block or unblock it separately from other explicit sites) for evidence that Cameron's corporate Mafia want to prevent anyone ever from learning about gay people or relationships or STDs or anything.

  3. Bates
    December 23, 2013 at 10:07 am | #4

    "But if you’re wanking on about how your blog or Wikipedia or the Guardian or basically anything non-sexual has been blocked, then you are standing up for the principle that state-sponsored centralised blocking of the Internet is wrong no matter what form it takes, and must be stopped."

    There – fixed that for you.

    • John B
      December 23, 2013 at 12:28 pm | #5

      Um, no. Because the things in question *haven’t* been blocked, except from the opt-in whitelisted walled garden for young kids. Making false assertions about the filter’s scope is entirely unhelpful for everybody.

  4. dsquared
    December 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm | #6

    "But if you’re wanking on about how your blog or Wikipedia or the Guardian or basically anything non-sexual has been blocked, then you are standing up for the principle that state-sponsored centralised blocking of the Internet is wrong no matter what form it takes, and must be stopped, and doing so in a really stupid and counterproductive way which is bound to create the impression that people protesting against this decision don't know what they're talking about."

    There, fixed that for you

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