Go Away Cameron lets you bypass the UK’s adults only filter

Internet filters are a sensitive matter. There are several reasons for that, like freedom of speech, personal choice, but also the fact that filters are usually affecting sites that should not be affected in first place.

What is meant by that is that sites get filtered or blocked that would not be blocked if the process of adding domains or web pages to the filter would be manual.

A filtering system went live recently in the United Kingdom which aims to protect children from accessing pornography on the Internet. How that is done? By giving Internet account owners a choice to either enable or disable the filter. More precisely, it appears that existing users will have a choice, while new users may have the filter enabled for them automatically.

While I cannot say if the filter is automatically enabled for all new users, it seems to be the case for new BT broadband customers.

What's wrong with a filter that protects children from accessing pornography you may ask. Nothing at all, were it not for the fact that legit sites are caught in the crossfire left and right.

Apparently, sites like the EFF or Slashdot were caught in the crossfire, and as is the site of Claire Perry which campaigned prominently for the introduction of filters.

It did not take long before browser extensions began to appear that let you bypass the filtering system.

Go Away Cameron is a browser extension for Google Chrome that you can use to visit blocked sites. It routes the traffic through a proxy connection which bypasses the filter effectively.

go-away-cameron

To use it, do the following:

  • Visit Go Away Cameron and create a free account on the site.
  • Install the extension from the Chrome Web Store.
  • Open the extensions settings with a click on the icon on this page: chrome://extensions/
  • Login using your account that you have just created.
  • Open chrome://extensions and enable incognito mode use for it, so that it works in the private browsing mode as well.

Whenever you want to use it, click on the icon. It should display up then which indicates that it is working and that you can make use of it. To disable it, simply click on the icon again.

The free account limits the bandwidth that is at your disposal. Account upgrades are available for £1.99 per month that improve the speed of the connection.

Note: Go Away Cameron uses the same technology that other proxy and virtual private network services make available. If you got access to any of those, you can make use of them as well to bypass the filter. To name a few: Hotspot Shield, Tunnelbear or CyberGhost.

All solutions have in common that the bandwidth available to free accounts is limited. Not a problem if you just want to access websites and services that are blocked even though that should not have happened.

Verdict

Automated filtering solutions do not work. It is as simple as that. While they may block a large portion of sites that should be blocked according to its purpose, it is always the case that some sites won't get blocked, while legit sites will be caught in the crossfire.

Are you living in the UK? What's your take on the filter?

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Responses to Go Away Cameron lets you bypass the UK’s adults only filter

  1. Transcontinental December 25, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    There is one thing I don't understand (I'm not in UK), if "Internet account owners (have) a choice to either enable or disable the filter" (that is UK’s adults only filter) what's the point, the pertinence of proposing a counter-filter ?
    Is it because "new users may have the filter enabled for them automatically" with no option to turn it off, no opt-out for new users ?

    • Martin Brinkmann December 25, 2013 at 6:05 pm #

      It is pretty simple: If you make it "off" by default, then almost no-one will enable it. If you make it "on" by default, then almost everyone will use it.

      Would you contact your ISP to have the filter turned off?

      • Transcontinental December 25, 2013 at 6:56 pm #

        If you take the initiative of installing a counter-filter like 'Go Away Cameron" then it means you are aware enough to just disable the porno filter, no? Now, if the issue is the shame of calling one's ISP to turn the porn filter off, that I can more easily understand. To resume, I see no real problem in a porn filter when there is the option to turn it off, and a gadget such as "Go Away Cameron" is closer, IMO, to a political approach against filters in general (that is a true debate, especially when these filters have side-filtering effects) then a real necessity in the context as it is now. I'd say, some techies are bouncing on an opportunity to say their truth on a matter which is beyond the present circumstances.

    • ACow December 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

      The point is, the state should not be deciding what is and what is not appropriate for me to read/view on the internet. Some people would rather access porn on the internet without having to ask their ISP for permission to view it, yes. What's there not to understand? Do explain.

  2. jasray December 25, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    "What's wrong with a filter that protects children from accessing pornography you may ask?"

    From an American point of view, there's a lot wrong with such governmental filtering. Read "Fahrenheit 451" to see what happens when a passive people allow this "Other" government filter what it hears, sees, smells, etc. It's a grotesque violation of Locke's "natural rights."

    What's wrong with the NSA eavesdropping on every individual phone call, e-mail, Internet site, etc.?

    • Transcontinental December 25, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      There's no opt-out for Big Ears, to whoever they may belong (we have ours here in France as well). It's a different problematic then when it comes to porn filtering. Now, is porn the real problem or is it filtering as such ? In the latter case, I'd be the first to condemn whatever filtering, porn included, if no opt-out were available. Opt-in/out is the true barrier IMO because it allows no U-turn, it is as such the path to an imprisoned Web. But I won't scream before the lack of option is a fact.

  3. DP December 25, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

    Personally, I wholeheartedly resent Cameron's political posturing, grandstanding and high-handed pig-ignorant nanny attitude in telling myself and other folk what they can and cannot see on the net - or anywhere else, for that matter - not to mention the collateral damage of "legit" sites also being blocked, which EVERYONE but the ill-informed politicians knew would happen. I can see these sorts of stories running on and on. I am my own man. I do NOT need people who haven't got the foggiest notion about which they speak laying down their own censorship laws. Thin end of the wedge, I say. It's only a matter of time before "they" decide that other sites are undesirable and actually legislate against them, bearing in mind it's only a voluntary thing at the moment, but ve haf vays ov making you co-operate.
    Aren't these idiot politicians in a democracy (that the populace elect) supposed to be working for us and our benefit - not going about their own agenda? I despair.

    • Transcontinental December 25, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

      Is this comment encrypted? Sounds like a Russian who would have studied in Cambridge, failed to enter the Service and ends up between selling fish and using a keyboard.
      Inconsistent.

      • DP December 25, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

        No understand. Inconsistent? I think not.

      • ACow December 25, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

        @Transcontinental
        It's perfectly legible to me. Your posts, on the other hand, could use some context-aware spell checking. Did you actually plan on playing dumb and being a dick or does it come naturally?

    • Tim December 26, 2013 at 1:07 am #

      Democracy is just an illusion. It's like asking people to vote for which burglar they want to be robbed by.

      In the vast majority of polls I saw, only 30% of people were in favour of this great firewall of Cameron, yet Cameron went ahead with it anyway. So, you have to question what the real reason for it is.

      It reminds me of a Simpsons sketch where they said something along the lines of "...everyone in favour say aye." "Everyone against say we support terrorism".

  4. Dennis December 26, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

    In Australia, the authorities have their noses in everybody's business; they say they are protecting democracy.
    I was sent to a war to fight for democracy, allegedly, but was given no choice about whether I wanted to go or not, except by applying for "conscientious objection" which was practically impossible to achieve. There is also no constitutional freedom of speech or 5th amendment like in USA.
    There is a big area of desert which one could 'hide' in, I guess.

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