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UK Internet censorship by most ISP's

7 comments  Add a comment

Yes, you read that correctly.  UK Internet censorship, surely that can't be right - after all that kind of thing only happens in places like China and Iran does it not?  Well you'd be wrong, because it's happening right now and the chances are you aren't even aware that your ISP is blocking access to certain content on your behalf.  Do you feel cosy, warm and protected now?

This issue came to light when I stumbled across a BBC News article about a Wikipedia page that had been blocked by a number of UK Internet providers.  Now I don't wish to enter a debate about kiddie porn here because that's not the focus of this article.  As vile as it is you'll never keep sick individuals away from it if that's what they're really after.  The classification of the image on this page is probably a moot point as the album in question is available on Amazon and can be found in hundreds of record stores.  Things were obviously different back in the 70's!

more sinister scenarios are very easy to imagine and probably just as easy to implement

My gripe here is about censorship of the Internet without consent.  I feel that you should know when certain content is being blocked or restricted.  You should know exactly what your ISP is preventing you from seeing and in my opinion you should be free to make a choice based on that.  Better still, you should be free to choose whether or not you want to be protected from illegal content.  As one of the Wikipedia articles says, "Users of several ISPs are receiving 404 or 403 errors when visiting the article.  The first rule of thumb for tolerated censorship should be that people are made aware of when they are being censored."

Internet censorship in the UK, 404 not found Exactly - and that's the whole point of this gripe.  The chances are if you are unable to get to that Wikipedia page, you probably didn't even know that it was censored and with generic 404 or 403 messages you never will.  Pretty scary I thought.  This is a Wikipedia page with some questionable images at the moment, but other more sinister scenarios are very easy to imagine and probably just as easy to implement.

Whilst I don't consider the IWF to be the bad guys here (they are after all providing a useful service to protect people), I do question the implementation of the dynamic blacklist by major UK ISP's and their lack of transparency.  Most people probably don't know or even worse don't care about freedom of speech or civil liberties, but I think it is of the utmost importance.  I consider this kind of censorship without prior consent or knowledge to be the first step on a very dangerous road.

Incidentally, Demon Internet are one of the more honest ISP's that either don't censor content (Business Broadband) or provide their users with a meaningful message as to why access has been denied to a particular page.  A choice would be the ideal situation, but an informed message is better than nothing or a generic 404 / 403 message.

That censored Wikipedia page (which you probably can't view!)

There's a wealth of information on this specific issue here:
Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/2008 IWF action


Leave a comment

happybunnyNOT

happybunnyNOT

Please remember we are not America. We have no "Right to Freedom" We have not voted for it. We only assume that we have freedom because we are are a western power.
happybunnyNOT
3rd Jan 11 21:14

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-11
Arnie

Arnie

So what service providers do not censor ? and what search engines don't censor ?? is there any at all?
Arnie
19th Jul 10 17:37

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-6
grumpyoldwoman

grumpyoldwoman

That was weird! Have been trying for ages to put a comment on the gripe about overfishing of dolphins and whales. I thought some sort of stop had been put on the gripe, but in the last couple of days other comments have appeared so that isn't the problem. So I tried again but got the message about there being a problem with what I had written. It seemed perfectly ok to me!

Normally I use AOL but suddenly started to wonder what would happen if I got here via Internet Explorer instead, and guess what? My comment appeared! What the heck is going on? Anyone got any ideas?
grumpyoldwoman
24th Jun 09 12:58

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-7
Me

Me

Well actually..

"The online watchdog, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), has withdrawn its objection to a Wikipedia page. The IWF now says that given the age and availability of the image, it was no longer on its list of proscribed sites."

So you're probably seeing the result of a U-Turn there.

However.. You're still being censored and the chances are next time some of you won't know about it.
Me
10th Dec 08 12:29

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-13
Phil

Phil

My ISP is Demon Home. The Wikipedia page linked in the article loaded for me, as normal, no problem. I am reminded of the popular phrase, "The Internet interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it."
Phil
10th Dec 08 02:10

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-15
Jon

Jon

Tony didn't you know, the government employ hundreds of thousands of people to surf the Internet all day looking for unsuitable images. They're called civil servants LOL
Jon
8th Dec 08 22:07

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-16
Tony

Tony

Welcome to the Peoples Democratic Republic of Britain. So, now there are only 489,999 websites where you can find this picture. Better not let the IWF know. I'm glad there is an organisation out there to make my decisions for me because as a mature intelligent British adult, I am unable to think for myself.......However the question is, Who found this picture so offensive and what exactly were they searching for at the time? Virgins, Killers or both?
Tony
8th Dec 08 19:20

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-5

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