Tuesday, 4 June 2013

On-line Safety Bill, yet again...

Really, this is proper "Nanny state" stuff.

On-line Safety Bill

Creates some interesting crap. Lets hope that yet again it does not get through.

On the ISP we, we already ask customers to confirm they want an unfiltered service when they sign up, and we already ask customers to confirm they are 18 or over. So every customer has already opted out and already old enough to access an unfiltered service. That is good.

However this latest attempt talks of OFCOM accredited age verification process. Great! So we'd have to run all customers through that. What fun.

But it would allow us to continue to run the service we run, and not have to faff with filtering. Good!

I note, also, there is nothing on pricing. If something meant we had to offer a filtered service there is nothing to stop us saying that it is available for a £100,000 set up fee. I suspect nobody would opt for such a service at that price, but if they did we could set up their own BT WMBC link and filtering box just for them. It is probably not even an "unfair" price for that.

There is another problem though: “electronic device” means a device that is capable of connecting to an internet access service and downloading content;  and Manufacturers of electronic devices must provide customers with a means of filtering content at an age appropriate level from an internet access service at the time the device is purchased.

That is a problem. My SIP phone can download content. My alarm system can download content. Indeed, almost any IP/net connectable device can download content even if only its own s/w updates. And all of these devices have to have a means to filter content. Actually, oddly, the devices do not need to have such a means, just manufacturers have to provide customers with a means. I guess that could mean FireBrick Ltd providing customers with a voucher for some windows content filtering app to run on their PC. So maybe the wording is not too bad, just completely stupid. It is also stupid that devices have to have filtering and the ISPs must offer filtering. Why both?

18 comments:

  1. Am I missing the bit in the bill which says how ISPs are meant to deal with providing a business with Internet access? Can we only supply unfiltered transit to companies which were established before 1995? Nothing says "this was written under the influence of won't-somebody-think-of-the-children" when massive details like this are missing.

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    1. Indeed, in a couple of years A&A will be allowed to buy a grown-up internet service :-)

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    2. Given that the minimum age to be a company director is 16, presumably this means that even if a company itself is older than 18, the age of the directors (and/or staff?) would also have to be checked by anybody selling connectivity?

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  2. All the SIP phones we supply come with (and have always come with) a means to filter content. It's 100% effective and it's called a mains plug. Sometimes the plug is attached to the phone and sometimes it's attached to a PoE switch, but wherever it is, the plug may be used to filter content with absolute and foolproof reliability.

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    1. Ooooh, that is a nice answer, and I suspect that meets the letter of the Bill.

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    2. On a related note, I was thinking they cannot possibly require the filter to work 'properly', because none of them do - at which point, "this service is filtered to prohibit access to any non-whitelisted service" should suffice ... with a whitelist consisting of "81.187.30.21 and 2001:8b0:0:30::51bb:1e15". Guaranteed no adult content there, those being the addresses of Clueless, and presumably that's exactly where you'd log in to disable the government-mandated stupidity - and also, very nearly the 'captive portal' functionality you mentioned implementing previously for credit control purposes.

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    3. Indeed, the block of adult content does not say *only* adult content. As one person pointed out, the "power switch" does that job nicely, but a simple captive portal with little or no Internet access at all will meet the requirements.

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  3. Or you could just offer a DNS based "filtered" service and charge for it. Even if you just ship a router with the OpenDNS servers pre-configured, that will be a filtered service, I think, as far as this goes.

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  4. ISP-side filtering is never going to be especially workable because it doesn't address the issue that both kids and adults use the same internet connection, and the ISP has no real way to know which traffic is associated with which user. Even more of a problem with NAT where you can't even tell which device is which...

    Device-side filtering is probably also going to cause a lot of problems since the OS is going to have to do lots of really nasty traffic interception, which you can expect to completely break a lot of software.

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  5. You should be careful with the £100,000 fee thing.
    I can see the headlines now "Scumbag ISP says they will not protect your children unless you give them £100,000". Or some such nonsense.

    Also, if you filter web pages by forcing http connections through some kind of web proxy to enforce the rule then you are not providing an internet connection. You are providing a service that allows you to request to have copies of web pages sent to you over a TCP/IP link, but it's not an "internet connection". And therefore there is no requirement to filter it at all. So by providing the technology to filter websites you are removing the need to actually do so.

    I may be otherthinking this and somehow doubt that they would see the difference between a connection to "the internet" and forwarding copies of web pages over an IP connection as being siginificant even though they are entirely different things.

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  6. “adult content” means an internet access service that contains harmful
    and offensive materials

    Since when did an internet service 'contain' anything...

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    1. Indeed, and an ISP is expected to filter adult content which means filtering access to an internet access?!?!

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    2. In which case your requirement that people opt into a non-filtered service suffices. You're filtering access to your internet access

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  7. Wait a minute, "Adult" means "Harmful and offensive"? I know some adults are both of these, but I have also met some who are neither!

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  8. “electronic device” means a device that is capable of connecting to an internet access service and downloading content;

    The device that connects to an internet access service is my modem/router. As far as I know it isn't capable of downloading content itself, so doesn't need to filter.

    My PC, phone etc. can download content, but connect to my LAN, not an internet access service and also don't need to filter?

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  9. Personally i think the online safety bill is a great idea, it means that children under the age of 18 will not be able to look at indecent images. Too many children with naive parents are viewing images which are no way suitable for them... I can understand for adults who now need to 'opt-in' to see such content may find themselves a little embarrassed asking for rights to see such images. Perhaps this is where some of you are coming from??

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    1. You have to be winding em up with this comment. Way out of date with current crap on filtering and clearly very silly.

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