ISPCC Asks ISPs About Child Pornography

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In a move that makes it particularly hard to disagree without sounding like some kind of heartless beast, the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has issued a letter to Irish ISPs to ask what their policies are regarding access to child pornography.

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The Sunday Business Post has actually been good enough to post the whole letter, which reads,

“Dear ——, I am writing to ask what your company’s policy is towards blocking access to known child pornography websites and Usenet groups. You will be aware that in Italy it is required by law that all ISPs block access to known child pornography websites, and the German government recently signalled its intention to promote a similar law at federal level.”

Of course, the problem here is that, as the SBP points out, the blocking of websites found to be distributing child pornography doesn’t do anything to stop filesharing of illicit images. Similarly, there’s the ever-present question of proxies, which would effectively nullify the ability of the ISP to block content. The other pronounced problem is, of course, that arguing against these kinds of measures is awkward if only because it makes the arguer seem sympathetic to child pornographers.

Perhaps most interesting isn’t the question of whether or not it would be helpful to block content, but what kind of can of worms the blocking of certain content would open. It’s common knowledge by now that Eircom seems to block access to The Pirate Bay’s torrent trackers, if not the site itself. That decision was part of a case between Eircom and copyright holders that stemmed from Eircom advertising appearing on The Pirate Bay itself. This kind of move would be somewhat different.

If ISPs were to just start blocking based on the suspicion of illegal activity, we imagine there’d be a fairly large backlash.

Anyway, you can read far more reasons why censorship on behalf of the ISP is probably a very bad idea indeed over at the Sunday Business Post, here.

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3 Responses to “ISPCC Asks ISPs About Child Pornography”

  1. DamoElDiablo Says:

    I personally think that rather than completely blocking access to these sites, they should record where the requests are made from. IMHO blocking access to the sites will only lead child abusers to seek gratification by other means, which we all know would be terrible. If such users are flagged instead, then steps can be made to apprehend them.

    • komplettie Says:

      Yeah, it makes a lot more sense to put a system like that in place. I’m not sure quite what the ISPCC is angling for with the letter though. It may be something on which it indends to put a report together.

  2. Clintonio Says:

    “blocking on suspicion of illegal activity” is always a bad idea. The sites should be blocked on conviction of illegal acitivity alone. Perhaps there should be some body related to the legal courts in countries that convicts websites as a body, then forces ISPs to ban them.

    Of course, this has it’s own ramifications, such as censorship. But, such censorship is already happening in countries it would happen in anyway, and in those it shouldn’t be happening in, people are quite watchful of the government anyway. So, it’s perhaps justifiable to try such a measure.

    I also don’t believe in going after the individuals. Not all of them are dangerous, and, contrary to popular belief, taking away the porn won’t turn them into crazed rapists. It’s far easier to go after a few websites than all of it’s users.

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