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Porn block plans deemed unworkable by ISPs

by Sarah Griffiths on 21 December 2010, 10:18

Tags: UK Government

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Mission impossible?

ISPs have told the government that plans to block access to pornography sites ‘at source' are likely to be unfeasible in practice.

The idea to make adults ‘opt in' to access porn sites is apparently the brainchild of communications minister Ed Vaizey and he is believed to be meeting with ISPs in the future to discuss his proposal becoming reality.

However, experts have told the BBC that rolling out a large scale filtering system is technically extremely challenging and will probably fail.

Trefor Davies, CTO at ISP Timico, reportedly said: "Unfortunately, It's technically not possible to completely block this stuff."

Apparently the problem is not just the vast amount of porn on the internet but the number of ways people can access it- through file-sharing networks, discussion boards, news groups plus straight forward websites that could make an all-out block almost impossible.

Currently ISPs block access to child pornography sites. Davies reportedly believes the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which currently circulates a list to ISPs all sites believed to be hosting illegal pictures of children, is not a good guide of how a block on porn sites could or should work.

He is said to think this as the IWF forms its list largely based upon public tip-offs, only tackles illegal content and there is doubt whether such a system could work to tackle millions of sites as well as chat rooms etc.

Davies told the Beeb that his experience with filtering systems showed they are a ‘blunt tool' that often block useful websites too.

"You end up with a system that's either hugely expensive and a losing battle because there are millions of these sites or it's just not effective. The cost of putting these systems in place outweigh the benefits, to my mind," he  reportedly said.