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Porn filters block sex education, charity websites

At the behest of the government and through their own initiative, British ISPs have begun firing up their own pornography filters, but as expected, on top of not being the all encompassing blockers that they were designed to be, they’ve done what we all knew they would do and started blocking legitimate content like sex education websites and women’s abuse advice group sites.

This was discovered in an investigation by BBC News Night, which tried out each of the filters by attempting to connect to 68 different pornographic website, as well as sites that contain content that discusses sexuality, but not pornography. The TalkTalk filter was found to be one of the worst, failing to block seven per cent of all porn websites tested, as well as blocking sex education site BishUK.com and the Edinburgh Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, listing them both as pornographic.

BT’s filter – which was turned on this week – was quite bad too, blocking instead of just porn, a domestic abuse helpline, a Scottish sexual health website and a domestic abuse help site. Sky’s service was more effective in blocking the real pornography, but got very over zealous and also blocked six sites that purport to help with porn addiction – hardly the sort of site you want to block when you’re trying to make porn harder to access.

Victoria Shotbolt, chief executive of the Parent Zone, said: “It’s great that the four ISPs have got together and are doing an awareness-raising campaign. But it isn’t even starting to be enough.” She went on to say that she doesn’t want parents to think that these filters will be enough – that they should learn how to protect their children from pornography online.

pornfilter
You’d have thought that sort of message would be a far more effective one than implementing these filters in the first place. 

The owner of sex-ed website Bish wasn’t quite as happy with the filters as Miss Shotbolt though, saying to the BBC: “They might fix my site in the short-term but what about all the other sites that are out there for young people, not just sex education sites… who are TalkTalk to say what is allowed and isn’t?”

KitGuru Says: I could understand if these filters were only “opt-out” when used on public Wi-Fi, as that could really be accessed by anybody, but in a person’s home, it’s their responsibility to filter the content they see, not the government’s and not ISPs. Blocks of any kind, be it torrent websites or pornography is censorship in the worst possible way and the collateral damage it’s already having on education is the most glaring reason as to why these sorts of filters are a terrible idea. Like the Pirate Bay blocks, they will do nothing to stop a determined kid from seeing porn, but they will stop those that were simply browsing for a bit of sexual education. 

Teach parents how to filter if they want it, but leave the decision on whether to enable it up to them. 

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