Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Adult content blocking: am writing to the consultation - anything else I need to say?

The Open Rights Group has pointed out that I need to get a shift on if I want my views to be included in the consultation process on adult filtering and ISPs which ends tomorrow. So here's what I've put together - I remember a similar experience when O2 stopped my phone from seeing anything that might alarm it a year or so ago, and that was all very silly too.

Remember that any comments I or you send may be published...

Here's what I've got so far - what have I missed?


A copy of this email is going to my MP. I am raising my concerns about the proposal for network filtering of adult content and default blocking.

I would like to submit the following evidence and I am happy for you to make it public either generally or through any Freedom of Information request (I would prefer my address is not made public however):

In March 2011 I tried to access the Economist's "Intelligent Life" magazine via my iPhone through the O2 3G network. I was a bit surprised to see a page popping up to tell me that the site was for over 18s [] and couldn't imagine what could have triggered such a warning - it's a pretty innocent news / editorial magazine.

Complaining about this on Twitter I learned that a new annoyance had been implemented that day which had forced all mobile companies to block large swathes of the internet (vastly over-reaching to include sites that are not at all 'adult') and forcing their customers to prove their age either by credit card (easily faked by a person under the age of 18 who can find the card details) or visiting a shop (admittedly less easy to fake).

A whole load of sexual health advice sites were also blocked - these can be crucially important to young people (and older people) and should never be treated as if they are harmful or in need of filtering. I think young people who are exploring sex or their sexuality need to be able to have access to such health information sites, and without their parents knowing. Finding out about stuff is not the same as rushing off to try to do stuff.

Similarly when using an O2 dongle SIMcard to connect my laptop to the internet while travelling I was amazed not to be able to access sites as benign as which is just a simplified version of Twitter. As I don't have a credit card I had to go to the shop and ask to have my SIMcard age-verified, but only once I'd returned of course.

If some measure is implemented in which a parent or guardian has to OK it before their ISP will deliver "pornography" (however we're defining it) to their computer then I'm absolutely 100% convinced that their kids will quickly learn how to overcome it and probably share that method online.

I'm particularly concerned that religious groups appear to be having much of a say in what is defined as adult content - many religions are not known for their progressive views on sex or relationships.

As far as I can see it filtering just blocks sites that it shouldn't and doesn't actually protect anyone - although perhaps it manages to make it look as if something is being done even when it isn't.

1 comment:

  1. Paul Clarke suggested I add something about blocked sites and their strategies for preventing themselves from being blocked, so I added this to the end of the para third from the bottom:

    "I'm fairly sure that sites whose content is blocked will find some way of staying one step ahead, perhaps varying their IP address(es)."


Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).