Porn filter plans are 'absolutely ridiculous'

Summary:Plans to filter all internet pornography for UK internet users would be unrealistic and costly, according to an expert.Updating the list of blocked or porn-hosting URLs would be a mammoth and time-consuming task that could result in huge bills for ISPs, according to one network engineer working for a major UK ISP.

Plans to filter all internet pornography for UK internet users would be unrealistic and costly, according to an expert.

Updating the list of blocked or porn-hosting URLs would be a mammoth and time-consuming task that could result in huge bills for ISPs, according to one network engineer working for a major UK ISP.

"The government is very good at suggesting new schemes, but not very good at paying for them. Who is going to pick up the bill for the infrastructure costs? Will it be another situation where the ISPs are expected to pay? And that's before even considering the ethical implications of filtering," said the source.

On Monday a spokesperson for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) confirmed that UK ISPs would be meeting with members of the government in 2011 to discuss the best way to restrict minors from accessing pornographic material online.

One of the suggestions is that an ISP-level filter is put in place for all pornographic content, meaning that a user would need to 'opt-in' to be able to access adult pages.

Currently, the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) compiles a blacklist of all sites that are known to host banned pornographic material which is then downloaded and implemented by ISPs. If the customer then tries to access any of the blacklisted URL addresses, it simply returns a blank page.

ZDNet UK's source also raised concerns about who would marshal a system similar to the IWF's and decide what is classed as pornography.

"What happens if a URL hosting adult material slips through and is seen by someone under age? Who is responsible or to be held accountable for that? It would need an organisation similar to the IWF to co-ordinate it," he said. "And who decides what is classed as pornography? Would an 18th century picture of a naked lady be classified as porn?"

There are also doubts over whether it would be effective at preventing children from accessing pornographic material.

"It will just come in different formats, whether it's peer-to-peer, file hosting sites or something else. We're never going to be able to block it entirely, but we can certainly make it difficult," the engineer said.

Topics: Mobility

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