As seen on TV

So, we got a call on Friday afternoon from a researcher at Sky News. "Would I like to come in for an interview on Sunday?" Well, why not! It would give me a chance to make some of the points I have been making here.

It is my first time being interviewed on live TV. It is on a slightly tricky topic - how to explain that ISPs should not be filtering content without (a) sounding like a nutter, (b) sounding like I support terrorists or child abusers.

I was not really nervous as such, but keen to ensure I was prepared, running through every argument in my head and making sure I had good answers. I had no brief apart from the fact it was about the culture secretary calling ISPs to a meeting. I did not know I was to be there with someone else. I could not even be sure the interview would happen - after all, in live TV news I am sure plans change quite quickly.

I have to say the whole process at Sky was very efficient. The taxi messed up, twice, but they got me there for around 6 minutes before we were on air, got me a glass of water and a few seconds in make up, walked on to the studio in a commercial, mic'd up, and ready.

I got maybe 10 seconds of chat before. It was clear that the interviewer also did not really know what the agenda of this meeting would be, unsurprisingly, so we all agreed that terrorism was the most likely.

I was pleased that she was not really adversarial, though I think she was hoping I would me more controversial than I was. None the less, I think I was treated well and I'll be happy to do this again.

It was a bit strange though afterwards, as I really was not sure how well I had done. I had run through questions so many times in my head that morning I was not really sure which points I'd managed to make - nowhere near as many as I had hoped, obviously. Watching it when I got home I think I did OK.

What was rather nice was all of the tweets, texts, facebook messages, and emails, from friends and colleagues. My phone was beeping like mad on the way home. I'd like to thank everyone for their feedback.

So that was my 7 minutes and 33 seconds of fame. I guess I have 7:27 left :-)



  1. It amused me when the Police spokesman said that they were not sure what the ISPs *could* do.

    Dur! The best person to tell you that is sat right next to you!

  2. Well done, great interview. Certainly the best man to argue to point and a voice for UK ISP's that aren't TT, BT, Sky etc.

  3. Half of me suspects that you were invited onto the program based on the views of this blog and that they were hoping you'd fluff it and give the govt the kind of ammo they need to force legislation onto ISP's. And that same half thinks you'll not be invited back because you were not controversial enough

    The other half says that you were invited onto the program based on the views of this blog and they recognised that you would offer a sane and balanced view from an ISP and they were exercising good editorial balance. And that same half thinks you'll be invited back because you were not controversial.

    :) Food for thought

  4. Everyone else supposedly only gets 15 minutes of fame, Why do you think you deserve 20?

  5. If they impose ISP to filter content, they should impose Post Office to open and read my mail...
    Sounds like a balanced decision, and I'm sure will prove a very popular one :-)

  6. Very good interview Adrian. You did very well here.

    Sadly those calling for mandatory blocking don't appear to care about the concerns regarding things like over blocking or the technical issues let alone the ease of circumvention for non technical people, kids included.

    Nor do they appear to be at all concerned about the false sense of security that parents and carers might now be forgiven for thinking because their "BIG ISP" has apparently blocked little Johnny and Mary from seeing dodgy content. I mean how many parents can take time to keep an eye on them online in the real world? So yes, they could well be forgiven for thinking "Great, my kids are safe online now because my ISP gives me a nice little blocking tool to protect them" not knowing that their little Johnny's are upstairs watching what the hell they like because circumvention is just so easy.

    We could ask if stopping inadvertent access is really acceptable? Because that's all it is doing and not very well at that.

    And who polices this content? Who makes the decision that content is inappropriate let alone illegal? Are ISP's to be the content Police? Are ISP's legally let alone morally in a position to do that justice? And more to the point is a music video that contains a sexual reference acceptable for my kids? Well I can decide that better than MY ISP, ta very much.

    Well done Politicians and similar who ignore the facts, you are just as much to blame for putting kids at further risk than anyone else.

    Just because "YOU" don't like certain elements of content doesn't mean you should take the easy decision to try and state block it.

    You are on a very slippery slope with this MP's and we all know how well you cope with Slippery slopes as our winter weather highlights every year, so god help us with you trying to grit the Internet eh.

  7. IMO, job well done Adrian. As you say it's not always easy to put forward a point of view based on facts and thought-out reasoning and not come across as a nutter in the glare of the spotlight and 'soundbite' media; I think you did really well here :)

  8. I really hope we don't get filtering by default on ADSL connections. We already have it on the major mobile broadband providers, where it has proved to be a coarse tool that invariably blocks entirely innocent websites. This serves no practical purpose: it just wastes my time whenever I get a new SIM card - getting the filtering turned off on each SIM card so that random websites won't get blocked for no reason.

    I also dislike the way that at least one of those mobile providers' filters is implemented. Can't remember which provider it was, but if you went to a site it didn't already have reputation data for, then it would come back again and again for many days, spidering the website looking for naughty keywords. Which is all well and good if it's a big public website, but not so good if it's a personal project hosted on a slow ADSL line, say. I spotted this after watching my server logs, trying to work out why some robot was hitting all the hidden test pages on my development site.

  9. Half the problem is that the people pushing for filtering and snooping continually conflate several separate issues:
    1. Stopping people (especially kids) from stumbling across porn accidentally.
    2. Stopping people from intentionally accessing "extremist" (terrorism) content.
    3. Stopping people from intentionally accessing child porn (including synthetic content - i.e. cartoons).
    4. Stopping the murder/abuse of kids.
    5. Stopping terrorism.
    6. Stopping piracy.

    These are largely quite separate issues that are just being cited as a bundle to justify the filtering and snooping proposals.

    I certainly think there is some merit in (1) - allowing parents to impose some kind of filtering to prevent kids from stumbling across porn. On mobile platforms then doing this on the ISP-side is probably not a bad idea since that tends to be a 1:1 relationship between users and SIM cards. On home internet connections, where the kids and adults are usually sharing the same connection, it would seem very problematic to expect the ISP to do any filtering. In either case, requiring the user to "opt-in to porn" seems like a very bad plan - filtering needs to be off by default, but with helpful and simple instructions to qccount holders explaining how to turn it on to protect kids if necessary.

    (2) Doesn't seem to have a lot of merit - illegal "extremist" stuff can be taken down at the source. But political free speech is important and stopping people expressing their views, no matter how extreme, is dangerous.

    I've yet to see any real evidence linking (3) and (4) - does accessing child porn really _cause_ people to go out and abuse kids? It could equally be that some people relieve themselves with child porn and therefore don't have to go out and abuse a child. This seems especially relevant with cartoons, which are illegal and yet no one has been hurt in their production - it seems an example of "I find what you do distasteful and therefore you should be locked up to protect me from being offended". Whilst I *do* find the idea distasteful, I'd rather someone was getting off on some cartoons than going out and abusing children. There are plenty of examples of laws preventing private acts between consenting adults, many of which have recently been legalised (it wasn't _that_ long ago that homosexuality was illegal, for example).

    As for (5), the chances of being involved in a terrorist incident are *tiny* already. Surely there are more worthwhile things to put our resources into than eroding everyone's civil liberties to prevent a relatively tiny number of people being injured or killed? IMHO, the terrorists are currently not the people setting off bombs, they are the authorities telling people that they are at constant risk if they don't give up their freedoms - the people using fear to achieve a political end (the definition of terrorism) are the politicians, and unfortunately they seem to be winning.

    (6) Just has no place at all in this discussion - who on earth would give up their civil liberties to support an industry as abusive to the public as the content industry?


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