UK Internet filters and the IAA forum

Last year a new internet law was passed in the UK. This required customers signing up to new internet service plans to “opt out” of installing filtering software. The law was sold to the public as a way of preventing children from accessing adult material.

I was staying at a relative’s house over the weekend and tried to access the IAA forum from their computer. It returned a message saying that the filters had blocked access to the site, as it was categorised as “violence and weapons”. However, for some reason the BOCN forum could still be accessed as usual. I never heard this angle discussed when they were passing the law. I have no idea whether this also extends to other providers, as my experience was with one provider and one specific computer.

At present there is a way to remove sites from the block list individually. However, it makes me wonder if this law was passed as a way to gradually get the public to accept compulsory internet filters. This would be much the same as creeping gun control laws. If not, perhaps it allows the serivce provider to force the company’s own agenda on users.

I wonder how far down the road it will be when access to any information regarding firearms is restricted by law in the UK. I could also see them saying that anything critical of the government or its policies is “not suitable for children”, and eventually the entire general public.

Of course if it does come to this, the filters could always be bypassed as users in countries like China already do. I am surprised more effort has not been made by governments around the world to restrict the internet. Never before has the average person been able to access so much news and opinion outside of the mainstream media. I can see why effort to restrict it is starting now. However, it seems that free internet is not something that will be given up easily, as there is opposition to it across the entire political spectrum. Many people today also rely too heavily on it.

So in the UK the actual service providers are forced to have filtering in place unless the subscriber had filed an opt-out ahead of time, and there is no way for computers to get around this unless they are a new subscriber to the ISP, or has the window to opt-out passed altogether for all ISP sign-ups? ! I can imagine that the vast majority of users might not have selected that option being that they would be very clear on whether they were purveyors of pornography or not, and if not, then they would not select the opt-out option. But now they may come to find that their access to gun, knife, ammo, or otherwise type of websites is blocked? Are you sure it wasn’t their web-browser filter being set to very strict? This would mean that basically any online newspaper would wind up being blocked since stories of horrible violent crimes would trip the filter. Also virtually any forum that has been around long would trip the filter since the sheer volume of text would cause a filter trip, not to mention popular sites like WIkipedia. Case in point would be our forum apparently, since we don’t speak of violence or violent acts, and only sparingly discuss weapons & firearms in so far as their historical relevance.

From Wikipedia:
Internet censorship in the United Kingdom

"Default network-level blocking by Internet Service Providers


The idea for default filtering originated in manifesto commitments by the 2010 coalition government partners concerning “the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood”.[7] This was followed by a review (the Bailey Review)[8] and a consultation by UKCCIS.[9] By 2013 there had already been considerable adoption of in-home filtering, with 43% of homes with children aged 5–15 having filters installed on their family computer.[10] Nevertheless, Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear in July 2013 that his aim was to ensure that by the end of 2013 all ISPs would have a filtering system in place.[11] As a result all four major ISPs (TalkTalk, Sky and BT[12]) began applying default filtering to new customers in 2013[13] with Virgin doing so in February 2014.[14] Default filtering of existing customers will be implemented by all four major ISPs during 2014 with the aim of ensuring that the system applies to 95% of all households by the end of the year."

ISP = Internet service provider

Well, I guess to get around big brother the Brits may need to have satellite internet service, among other things.

According to Falcon you can opt out but that requires the internet user to be aware of this option and then take action and contact their internet service provider and request the opt out.

I would like to say more but that’s not what the IAA forum is about.

I use the ferry crossing between the UK and Ireland and the FREE wi-fi blocks both this site and BOCN site plus a few others!

I read an article online saying that with some service providers, as many as 95% of customers had actually opted out. Whether or not people actually want to access the blocked content, many people don’t like being told what they are allowed to access.

As of yet, there hasn’t been a time window in which to opt out. All customers signing up for new serivce plans are presented with the option when they sign up, as is still the case today. I believe they can also change later if necessary. With the case of the IAA forum being blocked, there was an option for the registered user to log in and add the site to a list of allowed sites. So for now, the censorship is easily avoided if necessary.

However, knowing how laws in this country work, I think there may eventually be a point where no-one is able to opt any longer after a certain date. After that time, it may become law that the service providers have to have the filters in place for every registered user.

I have noticed that free wifi connections available in public places often have filters. The IAA forum was also blocked when I tried to access it via the wifi in Heathrow Airport.

And of course big brother is storing records on all our internet use anyway. Its annoying but in general I am in favour of more control and monitoring if it catches perverts and terrorists. Its the price we pay

There are yet more laws being proposed which would allow the government to issue “Extremism Disruption Orders”. Under this law, anyone who posted material which was a “threat to the functioning of democracy” in the government’s own words could be arrested.

To me that sounds like a very dangerous precedent. It seems like a cleverly worded way of saying “anyone who speaks out against the government”.

Obviously this has been made palatable to the public with the magic word “terrorism”, which will allow all sorts of draconian laws to be forced through. However, google results would suggest that from Christian groups to environmental groups to socialists, people from all areas of the political spectrum realise the possible implications.

I can naturally see information on firearms or ammunition being caught in this. Criticising British gun laws on the internet could be deemed a “threat to the functioning of democracy”.

Am I correct that posts on a US based forum should be convered under US Freedom of Speech?

Postings on U.S. based forum would be covered by the 1st Amendment.

Your protections from persecution/prosecution are only extended to you by physically being in the U.S.

Since your post originates outside the U.S., on servers owned by private businesses & monitored by your local government,you can rest assured that “big brother” will cause you problems.

That’s not to say that a forum in the U.S. running on servers it does not own, accessing the internet via servers owned by a private business, could not be silenced very easily. The speed to which is proportional to how " incorrect" the subject matter is.

it would be fairly easy to set up the server to do secure socket layer encryption, that is make every connection a https connection. The EFF do a add-on for Firefox that forces a connection to be https if the server allows it. The IAA server does not.