Republished: IWF Punts it's blacklist some more

This article was originally published on in 2009

Well, between them, the IWF and the NSPCC are doing quite a job of advertising their Child Porn Blacklist but it seems that some of the smaller ISP's are refusing to implement it. This is largely based on a cost vs benefit argument.

And sadly, they are right. Such measures are incredibly easy to circumvent, and is not going to stop anyone even remotely interested in the material from viewing it, and that's just using a web browser, roll P2P into the equation and suddenly you start seeing how easy it would be to obtain. Let alone if you were to use one of the anonymous networks.....

As much as I would like to see this filth removed from the web, thats not how the internet works, you can't remove things from the net without first going after the publishers. Even then more might publish on behalf of their imprisoned counterparts, trying to block these pages is simply a waste of money. And it's the customers who will pay, the ISP's will simply pass the cost down to their users.

Blocking the pages doesn't really do much to help either, those children have already been abused, and probably will continue to be until someone puts in the effort to actually track the producers of the material. Once these people have been tracked down they can be imprisoned/castrated and the children removed from the situation. It's not pleasant, but unfortunately it's the way these things work.

There seems to be some concern about people accidentally accessing the content and then becoming curious, but in my opinion, if they are even remotely curious about such things then the inclination was probably already there. The likelihood of a site suddenly making someone desire it's content, is quite small unless that person had a latent desire to try it.

Similarly, there is no proven link that viewing pictures will make a Pedophile more likely to actually physically abuse a child, most research has been conducted on Pedophiles who have been caught abusing children (If you secretly viewed it, would you admit it in a survey? Thought not) so the control group is somewhat lacking. Based on this lack of proof, it is surely far better for these people to fulfil their desires from a website than to actually abuse some kids? Obviously it's not quite as black and white as that, the pages do contain images of children who have been abused, and that cannot be condoned, but the basic principle of the hypothesis should be clear.

There are, and probably always will be, those that abuse children for sexual gratification, whether this is due to mental illness or something else is left to the readers own opinions, and therefore the abuse will continue. The best we can do, sadly, is to catch people as it happens, and hopefully before, blocking sites will not aid in this, however monitoring traffic to them could. Why block the sites? If they have been identified why not monitor who accesses them and then keep any eye on their activities thereafter. It may lead to the breaking of an entire ring, or it may lead to the arrest of one person, either way rather than simply denying access it would lead to the capture and imprisonment/capture of at least one Pedophile.

The sad fact is that no-one will ever like all of the content available on the web, personally I believe that Religion is perfectly capable of ruining lives, and has been very sadistic in the past. Hell, people still die in the name of God/Allah today, their beliefs have a real impact on everyones lives. Yet if I were to suggest that we block all Religious pages from the net, people would call me crazy, and say that it would have no impact. The unfortunate truth is that filtering Pedophilic (is that a word?) sites amounts to a similar result, a lot of expense, and very little true benefit.

Denying access to these materials will not kill the urges, just like censoring Religion would not stop it being practised. Censoring will push it deeper underground, but will not end it. As a teenager, with all those hormones racing, did being grounded every stop you wanting something, did rejections from women make you stop desiring sex? If you had gone to an All Boys/Girls school would you have stopped wanting sex or turned Homosexual? No. If anything, being denied access makes most people want something more.

The same thing is likely to be true here, I wish it wasn't, but unfortunately some people have some very very strange desires.

If you are concerned about accidentally accessing such material at home (or even that your kids might) you can install software onto your computer to deny access to any unsuitable sites, and you will have far more control over what is filtered. Take for example the recent IWF decisions to block Wikipedia and The Wayback Machine on the basis that they contained images that were potentially illegal. Not Definitely, not even Probably but Potentially! It is this kind of arbitrary filtering that is concerning most of the tech community, the larger proportion of people do not want to access the filtth that this list is supposed to protect from, but clearly the IWF lacks the responsibility to fulfil it's requirements without erroneously blocking useful resources. Most Internet Users have never accidentally stumbled onto Child Porn, and it's definitely not nice if you do, but as a rule you do actually need to be looking for it to find it. That should be ample protection for average users, and as the determined can work around the Blacklist, having no Blacklist is as effective in stopping users from viewing content.

Unfortunately, arguments against the blacklist are often greeted by accusations and suspicions of being a closet Pedophile. In my case at least, this is definitely not true. I have no desire to view such content and would love to see it wiped off the Internet, but as I said before Thats Just Not How It Works. It is a very political argument, and is quite a sensitive debate.

No doubt the debate will heat up, and the Government will weigh in with some new legislation, but the only real impact will be that we have a little less freedom and our Internet bills will go up.

Just for the record I wish to state that both the IWF and the NSPCC are clearly very well meaning organisations made up of people who care, I simply believe that they are slightly misguided on this issue. And as I've highlighted the IWF does have a history of being somewhat over eager when it comes to the blocking of websites. I certainly believe there should be more judicial oversight on the Blacklist, if an item is to be added it should be because it is illegal, not because it could potentially be illegal.