Porn Impossible To Block, ISPs Say

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After British culture minister Ed Vaizey announced his intention to get internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent the country’s citizens from accessing pornography, experts tell the BBC the plan is nearly impossible. Chief Technology Officer at Timico Trefor Davies said with the amount of pornography online plus the various techniques to get it via websites, streaming, downloading or peer-to-peer file sharing networks it would be too hard to remove all sources.

“You end up with a system that’s either hugely expensive and a losing battle because there are millions of these sites or it’s just not effective,” he said in the article.

There have been successful attempts to block questionable adult websites in Britain including the efforts of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), an organization that compiles a list of websites with adult content and sends it to the ISPs. However, the group only deals with illegal pornography and relies heavily on the public to report questionable material instead of taking a proactive approach to blocking pornography.

The British proposal allows parents to opt into a nationwide program that blocks pornographic materials through their ISP in order to shield their children from all adult content. Virgin Mobile, which already has a similar preventative program for their mobile internet, and Talk Talk have spoken in favor of the proposal, saying that government pressure to enforce these bans might not be a bad thing. Some activists, however, claim that service providers who block content infringe on consumer rights. With access to block certain websites, opponents are afraid that the government will stretch their powers to block material simply because they do not agree with it. The Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) is in support of preventing young people from seeing illicit content and does block some adult sites with illegal content, but they believe it is up to the parents to monitor what their children view online, not the ISPs to mandate a top-down block.

“ISPs currently block child abuse content which is illegal and widely regarded as abhorrent,” Secretary General of the ISPA Nicholas Lansman said. “Blocking lawful pornography content is less clear cut, will lead to the blocking of access to legitimate content and is only effective in preventing inadvertent access.” And, as the good folks at Machinima remind us, the internet is for porn.

More on TIME.com:

Studio Exec Wants End To DVD Screeners To Fight Pirates

Forget Drugs. iPads, iPods Now Joining The Smuggling Trade

US & China Crack Down on Product Piracy

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