UK.gov's web filtering mission creep: Now it plans to block 'extremist' websites

Of course, it doesn't define what 'extremist' means here


Whitehall is carefully floating plans that might result in ISPs being forced to start blocking "extremist" websites.

The first hint reached us in October, when the Premier – basking in what he believed to be a victory against the ubiquity of smutty websites, with big name ISPs set to bring in network-level filters – told Parliament that he was mulling over ways "to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites."

On Wednesday, Home Office crime and security minister James Brokenshire told a gathering of telcos in London that there would be an announcement shortly on the PM's proposals.

A Home Office spokesman, when quizzed by The Register, declined to comment on what those plans would involve, or whether the government would reveal more before the year is out.

The Internet Service Providers' Association said it was in the dark about Whitehall's latest mutterings to once again appear to threaten some form of regulation being imposed on the UK's broadband networks.

“Industry and ISPA have discussed extremist content online in the past but ISPs have not been made aware of details around ‘blocking’ this content," ISPA general secretary Nicholas Lansman told El Reg.

"We look forward to scrutinising the government’s plans and if and when they are made public."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Fun is reminding taxpayers that they will soon be nagged by ISPs to confirm whether they want their households to have access to porn and other supposedly contentious content online.

"[B]y the end of 2014 all existing customers will have been presented with an unavoidable choice about installing family friendly content filters which the user will not be able to skip," the Department for Media, Culture and Sport said. Only the adult account holder will be able to change the filter settings."

BSkyB recently switched on its network-level malware and porn blockers, while BT and Virgin Media are expected to bring their own DNS lookup systems soon. TalkTalk brought in its Homesafe service way back in 2011, with the help of Chinese networking giant Huawei.

The DCMS claimed that kids fondling slabs would now be better protected about the supposed evils of sex and violence lurking online.

"We have worked with industry to make it far easier for parents to be confident their children are being protected," said Culture Secretary Maria Miller. “Parents need to think about putting filters on their accounts and finding out more about keeping children safe online." ®


Other stories you might like

  • China reveals its top five sources of online fraud
    'Brushing' tops the list, as quantity of forbidden content continue to rise

    China’s Ministry of Public Security has revealed the five most prevalent types of fraud perpetrated online or by phone.

    The e-commerce scam known as “brushing” topped the list and accounted for around a third of all internet fraud activity in China. Brushing sees victims lured into making payment for goods that may not be delivered, or are only delivered after buyers are asked to perform several other online tasks that may include downloading dodgy apps and/or establishing e-commerce profiles. Victims can find themselves being asked to pay more than the original price for goods, or denied promised rebates.

    Brushing has also seen e-commerce providers send victims small items they never ordered, using profiles victims did not create or control. Dodgy vendors use that tactic to then write themselves glowing product reviews that increase their visibility on marketplace platforms.

    Continue reading
  • Sina Weibo, China's Twitter analog, reveals users' locations and IP addresses
    Sssshhhh! Nobody tell Elon Musk

    To the surprise of many users, China's largest Twitter-esque microblogging website, Sina Weibo, announced on Thursday that it will publish users' IP addresses and location data in an effort to keep their content honest and nice.

    In a post whose title translates as "IP Territorial Function Upgrade Announcement," the company stated it was taking the action to protect users' rights, and to make the service more pleasant to use.

    "In order to reduce undesirable behaviors such as impersonating parties, malicious rumors … as well as to ensure the authenticity and transparency of the disseminated content, the site launched the 'IP Territory' function in March this year," announced the social media platform's official account in Chinese.

    Continue reading
  • UK Home Office dangles £20m for national gun licence database system
    But potential bidders will have to move fast on this one

    The Home Office is looking to replace its ancient and creaky National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS) in a £20m contract.

    NFLMS is the central police database of every firearm owner and every individual firearm in England and Wales. Whoever wins the contract will have a relatively low profile but critically important system to deliver.

    "NFLMS is used by forces teams across England and Wales and these teams conduct approximately 170,000 licence grants, renewals and variations per year," said a notice on procurement website Bidstats.uk.

    Continue reading
  • China's internet regulator squeezes famously freewheeling Reddit-alike
    App already banned, now it's getting very close supervision

    China's internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), has taken unusually strong action against a social network that has long been considered a thorn in the side of the nation's elites.

    The site in question is Douban: a Reddit-like affair that started life as a forum to discuss books, music, and film. In the years since its 2005 founding, the site has become known for attracting users who express opinions that China's government may well find displeasing. Commenters have, for example, generally been unafraid to share frank opinions of works considered to represent exceptional expressions of Chinese patriotism.

    That culture has sparked numerous controversies – most famously when users downvoted the film The Wandering Earth, based on a novel of the same name by Chinese sci-fi author Liu Cixin, whose works are considered seminal contributions to the genre in China. Liu's novel, The Three Body Problem, took the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2015, and is being adapted for Netflix by the showrunners who made Game of Thrones. Dissing Liu is therefore a big deal.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022