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Gaoics79
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Banning child porn

This is one of the more cogent articles dealing with the recent U.K. porn filtering "opt out" policy.

quote:
Try to find some child pornography. Go on. Head to Google, or Bing, or even a porn-specific search engine, and try to devise a search string capable of returning pedophilic images or video. I'll wait. Once you're done, we'll meet back up in the next paragraph.
I'll confess I didn't have the guts to actually take him up on this dare. But it does raise a great point that has bugged me for a while. Too often there is a deliberate attempt to equivocate between illegal and conventional porn. Too often there is this bogus implication that somehow it's easy to stumble on kiddie porn by accident, like you could be searching for information about candlesticks and suddenly a video is going to pop up of a 4 year old being raped.

The other area the author touches on which I think is really important is the inherent slippery slope to this type of legislation:

quote:
Beyond that, though, the most basic possible point to make about free expression is that censorship is a cancer on government institutions, an evil unto itself regardless of how vile its targets might be. As we are already seeing in Britain, which now wants to ban things like drinking and tobacco-related websites, there is simply no possibility that morally righteous crusaders will restrain themselves at filtering porn alone. Once we open the gates to government censorship of the Internet, all bets will be off.
The author is bang on about the cancerous nature of censorship.

I actually think that it is a worthy goal to limit children's access to porn, including the legal stuff. I do agree with the intention behind the measure as I think there is an unprecedented exposure of children at younger and younger ages to hardcore pornography in excessive quantity. It is nothing like it was even when I was a kid (I am 33) where you would be lucky to get your hands on a second-hand hustler magazine or dirty VHS. In the past 20 years we have gone to the point where a five year old can pretty much access in a few minutes of casual searching a limitless quantity of hardcore pornography instantaneously. It's like an adult superstore in every single living room in America with no one checking IDs.

However, as a future parent (crossing my fingers) I can mitigate this problem with vigilance and perhaps a commercially available filter. What I can't do is put the genie back in the bottle once Chinese style controls become mainstream globally. The author is exactly right: there will be no end to what these censors will do once the first step is taken. They will never be satisfied with just porn.

I mentioned in another thread the people who consider rape jokes to be "hate speech" and would undoubtedly call for that to be censored. You'd have the Muslims and the religious fanatics calling for censorship of blasphemous comments. You'd have corporations demanding that copyrighted content be censored. Once in place, this type of policy will put in place a turn-key censorship regime that will eventually dismantle the free internet as we know it today. It will be thousands of special interests grabbing at the fabric of the internet tearing it apart.

And the irony is, while this might shield some of the younger children, the older children and teens will still have no problem finding porn.

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DarkJello
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Child porn is illegal, terribly harmful, and just plain gross. No good whatsoever can come from it. I say ban the HADES out of it!

If censorship is a slippery slope of cancer, then child porn is xenocide.

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MattP
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quote:
Originally posted by DarkJello:
Child porn is illegal, terribly harmful, and just plain gross. No good whatsoever can come from it. I say ban the HADES out of it!

If censorship is a slippery slope of cancer, then child porn is xenocide.

Did you read anything Jason wrote or from the article he quoted? Child porn is not easy to find, because there is already vigilant self-policing by the major internet providers and whatever is easy to find gets found and shut-down almost instantly by a number of agencies that busy themselves with that task. Those two factors also mean that those who traffic in it are already underground and using technologies and techniques that would subvert a filtering system anyway. Ironically, it's the same type of measures used by Chinese citizens who want to get around their government's attempt to block a much broader class of "subversive" information.

What Brittain is going to end up doing is blocking "all" porn and there is no way in the world that won't also include material that is not pornographic but merely offensive to the sensibilities of the next group of squeaky wheels that come along. Already there have been cases where the porn filters in previous government and commercial filtering attempts have flagged and blocked as porn web sites that are focused on or even mention homosexuality, breast and testicular cancer, artistic nudes, etc.

Look at what authority the Federal Government has claimed for itself based on the Interstate Commerce Clause and imagine what they would do with even a small opening on having the authority to filter internet content based on prevailing social mores.

[ July 31, 2013, 11:40 PM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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stilesbn
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As I understand it you can opt out of the filter. If the filter is really that bad and blocking legitimate sites that a lot of people want to see then I imagine that enough people will opt out to render the filter pretty useless.

I was under the impression that slippery slope arguments are generally weak arguments. Apparently they are valid when they support your side though.

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Seneca
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The problem with these types of filters are illustrated by the case in Australia, where rival businesses were reporting each other's websites to the government and getting them added to the filtration system, and because of the complicated, bloated bureaucracy, it can take over a year to appeal and have your website removed from their blocked list.

The internet was supposed to bring about an "information age" where society could free itself by exchanging thoughts and ideas. Instead it seems as if it's just giving the government more power to control on us and spy on us.

[ August 01, 2013, 11:40 AM: Message edited by: Seneca ]

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stilesbn
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
The internet was supposed to bring about an "information age" where society could free itself by exchanging thoughts and ideas.

While I agree that we should attempt to keep the internet free (though I think the OP is purposefully glossing over some key points in the filter) this phrase seems funny to me. The internet wasn't "meant" to bring about anything. It is an advancement in technology. It has no ideals. The internet just is, it's not "supposed" to be anything.

Of course, now I'm getting philosophical. And I would get eaten alive in a philosphy discussion... [Smile]

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DarkJello
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quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
I was under the impression that slippery slope arguments are generally weak arguments. Apparently they are valid when they support your side though.

You noticed that too...

quote:
Originally posted by stilesbn:
quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
The internet was supposed to bring about an "information age" where society could free itself by exchanging thoughts and ideas.

The internet wasn't "meant" to bring about anything. It is an advancement in technology. It has no ideals. The internet just is, it's not "supposed" to be anything.
It appears you misunderstood. He did not claim personhood in r/t the internet. Tools can be used for good or ill.

[ August 01, 2013, 02:49 PM: Message edited by: DarkJello ]

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MattP
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quote:
I was under the impression that slippery slope arguments are generally weak arguments. Apparently they are valid when they support your side though.
Even the initial implementation is likely to suffer from the consequences I suggested, based on previous experience with filtering. Internet filtering is a clumsy tool that always blocks too much or not enough and when responsibility for it lies with someone other than the end user they will tend to err on the side of "too much". Sites related to health, gender, orientation, etc. frequently get blocked by "porn" filters that exist today.

It's also not a slippery slope argument to say that we shouldn't put in place a system which makes overreach beyond the initial stated goals possible. Given the dishonesty of the pitch for the system so far ("we'll ban child porn!") there's good reason to question how it will actually be used.

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MattP
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quote:
If the filter is really that bad and blocking legitimate sites that a lot of people want to see then I imagine that enough people will opt out to render the filter pretty useless.
The problem is that it may block legitimate sites that not a lot of people want to see, impeding the "democratization" effect of the internet for those who don't already hold majority views. Depressed gay son with virulently homophobic parents? Sorry, no access to online counseling and support services because "gay" is "porn."

Maybe they'll end up with the first widespread filtering system that doesn't suffer from such issues, but since they would be the first there's good reason to be skeptical.

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DJQuag
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There's also an argument being made that this is just a way to restrict porn access via embarassment. In order to turn the filter off, you basically have to contact your ISP and ask them to turn on the naked ladies access for you.

Now, there's no real reason to be embarassed about that, but it's still going to be a factor for some people.

This won't stop child porn. This can not stop child porn. It won't even make a dent in child porn. It's a false premise on the face of it, and if the idea has merit the people supporting it would be more honest.

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DarkJello
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If it will protect/prevent even 1 person from accessing child porn... Or so goes the logic on other topics.

[ August 01, 2013, 07:47 PM: Message edited by: DarkJello ]

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DJQuag
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Two things -

I'm not convinced that it will stop one person from accessing child porn if they really want to.

Also, which topics are you speaking of, that have people saying "Well, if it stops one person...?" Would the proposed solutions to these topics of concern actually be effective, which is not the case with this measure?

I know I don't subscribe to such logic. I don't think many do.

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Seneca
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http://delimiter.com.au/2013/05/16/global-eyes-are-watching-eff-condemns-australias-new-internet-filter/
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DarkJello
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quote:
Originally posted by Seneca:
http://delimiter.com.au/2013/05/16/global-eyes-are-watching-eff-condemns-australias-new-internet-filter/

Link aint happening for my laptop. Not sure if Lenovo or my ISP is to blame. Perchance my kids. Or the NSA??? [Wink]
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Gaoics79
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quote:
As I understand it you can opt out of the filter. If the filter is really that bad and blocking legitimate sites that a lot of people want to see then I imagine that enough people will opt out to render the filter pretty useless.
Yes, in its current form the government has made it "opt in". Once the system is in place, that can be erased with a stroke of a key.

quote:
I was under the impression that slippery slope arguments are generally weak arguments. Apparently they are valid when they support your side though.
You are wrong. There is a distinction to be drawn between the Slippery Slope Fallacy, and an argument that simply posits a "slippery slope" effect.

Anyone who understands the common law, for instance, appreciates that in many areas the law is one big "slippery slope" with precedent building on precedent like sediment. You start with a simple premise like "due process" and end up with courts striking down child labour and work safety laws.

It is not a fallacy to observe that censorship regimes, once in place, may be used to censor any content. It is also not fallacious to point out the fact that once a government agency has discretionary authority to block content, it may use this authority to block any content, not just porn. It is also not fallacious to point out that once you establish a "turn-key" censorship system, this can instantaneously be subverted and co-opted for any purpose whatsoever, and that there is no doubt whatsoever that many political special interests will attempt to do so.

This is not a "slipper slope" fallacy, because there is nothing fallacious about any assumption I have made.

[ August 02, 2013, 08:17 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I had thought of calling the next sort of superficial people the Idealists; but I think this implies a humility towards impersonal good they hardly show; so I call them the Autocrats. They are those who give us generally to understand that every modern [16]reform will "work" all right, because they will be there to see. Where they will be, and for how long, they do not explain very clearly. I do not mind their looking forward to numberless lives in succession; for that is the shadow of a human or divine hope. But even a theosophist does not expect to be a vast number of people at once. And these people most certainly propose to be responsible for a whole movement after it has left their hands. Each man promises to be about a thousand policemen. If you ask them how this or that will work, they will answer, "Oh, I would certainly insist on this"; or "I would never go so far as that"; as if they could return to this earth and do what no ghost has ever done quite successfully—force men to forsake their sins. Of these it is enough to say that they do not understand the nature of a law any more than the nature of a dog. If you let loose a law, it will do as a dog does. It will obey its own nature, not yours. Such sense as you have put into the law (or the dog) will be fulfilled. But you will not be able to fulfil a fragment of anything you have forgotten to put into it.
Chesterton, Eugenics and other Evils

Chesterton rightly figured out that laws, once in place, have a life of their own, completely independent from their creators. This law, despite the pretext for its creation, is not fundamentally about porn. This much is obvious, because the pretext of course changes depending on who you talk to. Darkjello seems to think that it has something to do with kiddie porn, even though as designed it cannot possibly prevent anyone from accessing such material.

The law is like a train. The cargo today is porn; the cargo tomorrow may be something completely different. The fact that the builder of the train did so to carry coal or lumber is immaterial; what will matter 100 years later is that the train allows goods of any kind to be moved from point A to point B quickly.

What is important isn't the fact that porn is being censored; what is important is the fact that the government of a free western country has found it acceptable to filter the internet pre-emptively, a policy modeled after communist China.

To say that the law is designed to attack porn is, therefore, simplistic and only superficially correct. The law creates a censorship system. That system, once in place, won't easily be dismantled. Once in place, it may be turned to any purpose.

[ August 02, 2013, 08:35 PM: Message edited by: jasonr ]

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Funean
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quote:
That system, once in place, won't easily be dismantled. Once in place, it may be turned to any purpose.
QFT. Patriot Act, anyone?
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TomDavidson
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quote:
what is important is the fact that the government of a free western country has found it acceptable to filter the internet pre-emptively
To be fair, my understanding is that Australia has been doing this for almost two decades now.
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DarkJello
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
what is important is the fact that the government of a free western country has found it acceptable to filter the internet pre-emptively
To be fair, my understanding is that Australia has been doing this for almost two decades now.
Australia is doomed!!

I am in support of making child porn even more difficult to access/obtain. Certainly that objective could be met. Super specific language with strict/transparent oversight could work. The idea that laws cannot be passed because someone will corrupt them later does not jive. I mean, if that is true then no further laws should be created.

[ August 03, 2013, 12:20 AM: Message edited by: DarkJello ]

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D.W.
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Seconded. Can we get rid of some old ones too?
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Athelstan
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As the piece states this is David Cameron’s idea. He follows the politician’s logic.

1. We must do something
2. This is something
3. Therefore, we must do this .(especially with a General Election on the horizon).

The UK’s Online Safety Bill is not yet law. It is making its torturous way through Parliament and as yet only reached the Lords Committee Stage. No one knows what it will look like if or when it gets its Third Reading in the Commons.

David Cameron has negotiated this idea with Internet Service Providers and thereby bypassed Parliament which is of concern.

Only a cynic would see a connection between this and David Cameron’s backpedalling on recent tax demands on Google.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
To be fair, my understanding is that Australia has been doing this for almost two decades now.
Has it?? I wasn't aware of that. Is it the same system as what the U.K. has proposed? How has it worked out?
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TomDavidson
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I believe it's different, but I don't know too much about it since I only know a couple Australians, and none of them in technical fields. Here's a Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Australia
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michaele8
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Doesn't that weasel Cameron's internet filter proposal also mean that esoteric religious sites will be blocked as well? Ever try to use a computer that has some sort of child protection built in? they often block pro-life sites, pages dealing with breast cancer and even forums where topics have come up about such issues as...you got it, pornography.
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