First They Came for the Child Porn…


Over the last few years, U.K. regulators have put pressure on ISPs to cut off access to child porn at the source, preventing it from entering customer's homes in the first place rather than relying on individuals to do the filtering on their own computers. The government-encouraged filtering is based on a list of sites maintained by the Internet Watch Foundation. The ban has generally been considered a success, although it has led to some embarrassing mistakes such as blocking the entirety of Wikipedia in the U.K. due to an image on a album cover in a single entry.

But once the government knew that ISPs could restrict content at the root, it was inevitable that regulators would start pondering other ways to use that power. Next up, good old fashioned grown-up porn:

Miranda Suit, co-founder of the charity Safermedia, which held a conference on internet porn at the Commons last month, said: "Technically we know it can be done because the ISPs are already removing child porn after the government put pressure on them.

Of course, the measure will be "voluntary" for the ISPs. And subscribers will still be able to opt in to porn, it's just not a terribly appealing option for those who prefer not to make explicit what they're using their super-fast broadband connection for in the wee hours. Communications minister Ed Valzey plans to meet with the heads of the major ISPs next month. You know, just to chat:

Vaizey said: "This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it's the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children. I'm hoping they will get their acts together so we don't have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years."

Since we're already slip-sliding down the famous slope, it's worth pointing out that various kinds of religious and political speech are the next stops on the way down. Take Suit's quote from above and apply it to anything the government might prefer people don't read or watch online. The result is as unappealing as, well, child porn.

* Massive massive apologies for the headline to Pastor Martin Niemöller.

NEXT: Reason.tv: Will Net Neutrality Save the Internet?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Net Neutrality will fix this.

    1. Never confuse Net Neutrality with Net Neuterization.

      Staggering irony in this following the NN article. Absolutely staggering.

  2. We’re only behind schedule by a few years, after all.

  3. The Register is probably one of the best sources for info on this sort of thing in the UK.


    I don’t think that an opt-out filter for legal porn would ever be implemented (shouldn’t the market/parents choose to engage in that activity?) but agree that there should be outrage at the prospect of it.

    1. choose whether to engage

  4. Miranda Suit Mohammed al-Burka, co-founder of the charity Safermediamuslims, which held a conference on internet porn “hate speech” at the Commons last month, said: “Technically we know it can be done because the ISPs are already removing child porn after the government put pressure on them.”

    Yup. Works every time.

    Go ahead, shriek. Substitute “Jerry Falwell” and “Saferchristfags”. Just remember the Iron Law:

    Me today, you tomorrow.

  5. Instead of ISPs blocking those sites outright unless you ask them to unblock them… how about have parents call in to have them blocked? (Oh, because Dad still wants access to it, nvm)

  6. The UK gummint should also publicly post the names and addresses of those opting-in and for what particular sexual category they opted into.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  7. http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/…..index.html

    That pedophilia book author was arrested by some grandstanding sheriff in Florida.

    1. I live in Florida. Before I even read the article, I knew it was Sheriff Grady Judd.

      1. I find Sheriff Grady Judd to be one extremely disgusting piece of filth. Grady Judd himself is a moral perversion and an obscenity. I am pretty sure that his mere existence is illegal.

        We can ban obscenities like Grady Judd, right?

  8. …solutions to protect children…

    Say no more. You see this, you run screaming.

    1. Nah, the admonition that “this is a very serious problem” grabs the attention well enough. Followed by the ‘don’t make us legislate this’ threat, it’s enough to spark imaginary images of pummeling the speaker with a roasted goose.

  9. Have these gubmint morons never heard of virtual private networks. 10 bucks a month and no one has a clue what you do online.

    1. Except the ISP of the VPN anonymizer. Do you really think that the CIA, NSA and FBI are not running these sites as honeypots? How else do you think they are staying in business?

      1. That was tongue-in-cheek, but upon reading it sounded too close to plausible to guarantee a laugh. At any rate – TOR is the “providerless” anonymous network. Opensource encrypted traffic among a network of peer-to-peer connections. It is essentially untraceable, although any agency trying to pierce the veil of anonymity could do so with sufficient numbers of compromised nodes.

        1. TOR is waaaaay to fucking slow.

    2. At the bottom of that slope is a darknet where these busybodies would literally shit themselves if it ever got up and running.

  10. “” I think it is very important that it’s the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children.””

    Perhaps they should invent the parental unit.

    1. Talk about a passive aggressive “don’t make us go all statist on your arses” veiled threat. Well, ok, not so veiled.

    2. The government IS the senior all-powerful parental unit.

  11. The IWF on itself:

    We are an independent self-regulatory body, funded by the EU and the wider online industry, including internet service providers, mobile operators and manufacturers, content service providers, filtering companies, search providers, trade associations, and the financial sector. Our self-regulatory partnership approach is widely recognised as a model of good practice in combating the abuse of technology for the dissemination of criminal content.

    The Watchmen don’t need watching. They’re self-regulatory.

    And it’s for the children.

  12. Will this be a “yes/no” type of thing, or would I have to specify what types of porn I’d like to view? If so, will their be some sort of menu I can check out? Would I have to specify they specific types I want, or will it have numbers, like a menu at a Chinese restaurant?

    Yes, I’d like an order the #3) Latina Threesomes, #8) Amateur MILF POV, and #7) Asian Bukake

  13. …it has led to some embarrassing mistakes such as blocking the entirety of Wikipedia in the U.K. due to an image on a album cover in a single entry.

    Prior to reading that wiki article, I would have guessed Blind Faith, since Virgin Killer had a different cover in the US.

  14. In 1968, the US Supreme Court upheld a ban on selling “girlie” magazines to teenagers. The Court said it didn’t need convincing evidence that explicit materials cause harm to teens. It was enough that the state legislature said so (Ginsberg v. New York).

    The Court admitted there was no consensus of evidence showing harm then, and there is still is none.

    A nation that values liberty does not take it away when there is not even evidence of need.


  15. I make a point of allowing adult content on my website just because the porn industry is under attack.

  16. takinglibertyseriously says:

    “A nation that values liberty does not take it away when there is not even evidence of need.”

    A nation that values liberty does not take it away, period.

    1. Dave says: A nation that values liberty does not take it away, period.

      Well, not necessarily. A nation that values liberty might still want to prevent the strong or sneaky people from taking away other people’s possessions, for example. I wouldn’t say that property rights are such a bad thing, even though they do take away our freedom to use whatever we want and go wherever we please.

      There’s also a similar case to be made for laws that restrict the freedom to commit homicides, assaults, etc.

      To say it’s wrong for government to “take it away, period” is only a slogan. It does not take liberty seriously.


      1. takinglibertyseriously,

        Excellent work. You completely destroyed my eleven word case for legalized homicide and the abolition of property rights.

        My point is this: All the rights we’ve lost since the U.S. was founded were taken based on some “evidence of need” as declared by government. If we define liberty as consisting of “inalienable rights” then evidence of need is insufficient. They are inalienable and evidence of need is merely a gimmick to justify supressing them.

        For future reference, I suggest you give it some thought before you interpret a simple statement advocating liberty as a license to kill or eliminate property rights. It’s nonsense to suggest that liberty, taken to an extreme, implies some kind of violent chaotic free for all. There would be no liberty in such a society.

        1. Thank you for your suggestion.

          I did not see how your “simple statement” left room for interpretation. The problem is that the circumstances for limiting liberty (to protect property, for example) have to be defined with great care and attention.

          We as a nation don’t give this care and attention, but operate mainly by means of competing slogans, and liberty has been very poorly defended, and suffered grievously, as a result.


  17. Where is the proof that any of this porn is actually harmful for children?Studies actually show that even artificially made child porn prevents child sex abuse.Now a days giving an unwanted complement is considered as “abuse”.I mean this is just ridiculous.
    Don’t let the internet freedom slip away.Protest the best you can.

  18. Adam: “Where is the proof that any of this porn is actually harmful for children?”

    Hahaha! Don’t be silly. It’s common sense, so no proof is needed. Demands for evidence will be met with ridicule and name-calling.

    For example: “You dumb shit. Of course, porn is harmful for children. Everyone knows that. How can you be such an idiot? Did your mother have any children that lived? I’ll bet you don’t even know who your father is! I won’t even dignify your question with a response. I hope an asteroid lands on your house and kills your whole family, including your dog. You are probably a porn addict and treat women like objects. Hell, I bet you secretly collect child porn. I’m reporting you to the cops. You’re a threat to the entire community.”

    1. Dammit! If the asteroid doesn’t get me, the cop surely will.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.