UK ISPs, Government, Fight Over Web Filters
With Few Realizing They Won't Work to Block Much of Anything
As the UK government continues to expand their push for mandatory Internet filters, UK ISPs appear to be kicking back somewhat at government requests that the filters be opt out. The UK has been pushing for a program that automatically opts UK Internet users in to the government's new filtering regime, which began by targeting child porn, but is now aiming higher toward all offensive materials. ISPs are starting to get annoyed with the government's demands
on how the program is framed in certain ways, ISPs warning that a "default on" setting might make parents ultimately be complacent:
A source at another company saw another reason why "default on" might be a bad idea: "It makes parents complacent - if you tell them the filter is switched on by default, they get a false sense of security. We want parents to make informed choices about the way their children use the internet." And the companies point out that the man the government chose to examine this issue, Reg Bailey of the Mothers' Union, was also dubious about the use of default-on filters, wanting parents to be more active in understanding online dangers.
Whether or not the UK filters are opt in or opt out floats rather gracelessly over the fact that these kinds of filters usually don't work -- and are usually bypassed quickly by kids that are far more tech-savvy than their parents. Most filtering systems nearly always wind up filtering legitimate content, and opening the door to government-imposed filters is a slippery slope toward broader censoring of any content the government might deem offensive. Few in the UK seem to realize any of this, and as such they're doing a lovely job re-arranging the deck chairs on their Titanic-esque filtering efforts.