June 06, 2004

"Cleanfeed" - British Telecom to ban child porn site connections


(my emphasis below)

BT puts block on child porn sites

Martin Bright, home affairs editor
Sunday June 6, 2004

The Observer

British Telecom has taken the unprecedented step of blocking all illegal child pornography websites in a crackdown on abuse online. The decision by Britain's largest high-speed internet provider will lead to the first mass censorship of the web attempted in a Western democracy.

[Note it's not clear to me that this effort, called "cleanfeed", is the same as http://www.cleanfeed.co.uk/ - I've inquired.]
[Update: This "cleanfeed" is NOT the same as that website, Clive Feather says "A coincidence"]
[Update - slightly more info: http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/news_story.php?id=58650]

The key question, which I hope someone in journalistic power will ask:



Abstract: This report examines a secret category in , a product often sold under the name BESS, The Internet Retriever This category turns out to be for sites which must be uniformly prohibited, because they constitute a LOOPHOLE in the necessary control of censorware. The category contains sites which provide services of anonymity, privacy, language translation, humorous text transformations, even web page feature testing, and more.

[N.b., it's not a secret anymore, I'd like to think because of my expose]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in censorware | on June 06, 2004 10:47 PM (Infothought permalink) | Followups
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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I looked on their category stats which shows how many are on the banned list and its 225713 out of 6280485 - 3.6% of all websites. Of these just 200,000 are 'sexually explicit' but the rest of the banned include these: Betting & Gambling (not illegal in the UK BTW!), anonymous proxies (which I guess includes anonymiser), glamour & Intimate apparel ( I wonder if Anne Summers knows), usenet!!! and General Banned (550!)

I'm not on BT Internet (but a lot are).

David Bolton

Posted by: David Bolton at June 7, 2004 02:52 AM

That's a different "cleanfeed", not the project in the article.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at June 7, 2004 03:53 AM

Umm. You say they're different- hey maybe? But what is the chance that BT would pick the same name as a major company who specialise in supplying this as a service to ISPs? If not a full service, I'd guess they might have licensed the technology to use internally. Too big a coincidence otherwise!

Reuters had a piece http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=5362364

Which says:
BT's Danon cautioned the blocking scheme would not be extended to Web sites inciting hatred or espousing terrorism or those that traffic in copyrighted materials, citing the lack of clearly worded laws outlawing such content.
"We do not intend to, nor can we, extend this to other areas," Danon said.

But this beggars the question- what about proxies?

Posted by: David Bolton at June 8, 2004 02:50 AM

I'm sure they won't block proxies. You might say, they'll block proxies because otherwise people can use them to get around the blocks on child pornography. But that's a security person's perspective, not a corporate perspective. Blocking proxies would open BT up to charges of censorship which can't be sustained when it is only blocking child porn. There is an enormous gulf between child pornography and all other controversial topics, and by keeping to this side of that gap, BT is perfectly safe. Going beyond it would totally change the PR situation.

Posted by: Cypherpunk at June 8, 2004 01:30 PM