Explicit Web Contents Soon Opt-In In The UK

Martin Brinkmann
Oct 11, 2011
Updated • Mar 31, 2012

In the latest Orwellian move to restrict the rights of their citizens, the UK government has come to an agreement with the four largest Internet Service Providers to censor explicit contents on the ISP level. The standard - it is for the best of the children - argument has been made to justify the censorship of web contents.

The four ISPs that have agreed to block explicit web contents - read porn at the time of writing - are Sky, British Telecom, Talk Talk and Virgin according to The Guardian newspaper. Subscribers to those ISPs need to opt-in to be able to view explicit contents on the Internet.

It is expected that the prime minister David Cameron will announce further moves like restricting "aggressive advertising campaigns and certain types of images on billboards". Those obviously will come without opt-in options.

The government furthermore plans to unleash a website called Parentport to the public which citizens can use to "complain about television programmes, advertisements, products or services which they believe are inappropriate for children".

It is interesting to note that the government believes that they can filter out all explicit contents on the Internet this way. Web filters, even on the ISP level, have weaknesses. This includes not only that they will never have a 100% detection rate, but also that the likelihood of false positives is high.

It is also not clear at the time of writing if individual web pages will get blocked or the entire domain.

That's beneficial for the Orwellian phantasies of the British government in two ways. They first have established censorship on the ISP level, supported by parts of the population. The term explicit contents, adult contents or even porn is vague at best which leaves lots of room for interpretations. Will this only include images and videos or other forms like texts as well.

Vagueness actually is a common denominator in public state-driven censorship. From a concerned citizen perspective it all boils down to the question of power. Who has the power to decide what to censor and what not to, and what quality objective guidelines are available to base that decision on?

Others might say that violence, drugs, computer games, weapons, Tom and Jerry, The Simpsons or Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet should also fall under that censorship.

It is also interesting to note that part of the users who would opt-in won't because of fear of landing on "the country's perverts list".

It is not clear yet how users can opt-in. Do they have to phone their ISP asking for permission to watch porn on the Internet? The opt-in cannot be anonymous, and it would not make sense to display options to opt-in right on the blocked web page.

Update: BBC now contradicts earlier reports stating that parents can opt-in to filter specific types of websites during sign-up (presumably like Open DNS offers packages to block certain types of sites).


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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between name.com domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

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