Here's more evidence that automatic content filters are an absolutely terrible idea


Poor Alec Muffett. All he wanted to do was get EE to disable the ludicrous and draconian content filter – and it was a process that was convoluted, time consuming, and frustration. He posted a Storify telling the story of how he eventually got it disabled.


The filter was brought in last year by all of the major internet providers following David Cameron attempting to provoke a moral panic in order to win the respect of Daily Mail readers. Whilst Cameron’s attempts to impose a government filter were shot down, eventually all of the ISPs did agree to implement filters, under the pretence of stopping kids accessing porn.

Why is the filter so bad? There are potential freedom of speech implications. Next time there’s a riot, will the Home Secretary ask the providers to block social media? The technology is there now – and there’s no technical reason that it cannot be misused.

Even if we agreed filters were a good idea (we don’t), how would the line be drawn between acceptable and unacceptable material? And how would automated systems be built to decide? There’s already been stories about filters blocking LGBT websites that might be vital resources for teenagers seeking help.

Heck, even if your goal is to access pornography, why should an adult be prevented from accessing legal material? Why should the ISPs make the decisions instead of parents? Wasn’t it supposed to be the red team who were all about the “nanny state”?

Anyway, check out Alec’s Storify to find out what rigmarole you’ll have to go through next time you move house in order to have full internet access:

James O’Malley
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