ISP Entanet UK raises filtering concerns

Communications provider Entanet , a supplier of broadband services to several UK ISPs and resellers , has raised some concerns with the way the Internet Watch Foundation's (IWF) block list works. The IWF works with ISPs to help filter out sites that contain illegal child sexual abuse and race hate content. Sadly the methods used to deploy the system haven't always worked, with last year's Wikipedia block (original news) being a prime example.

Entanet's Technical Support Manager, Neil Watson, said on the ISPs Opinion Blog: "Entanet fully appreciates the importance of protecting children from exploitation and fully supports the IWF's intentions. However like many other ISPs we have concerns over the accuracy of the methods used to identify offending sites.

There are also concerns over the effectiveness of the IWF list. Paedophiles with minimal technical knowledge can easily circumnavigate the list to gain access to and distribute illegal images. So is it really worthwhile and will it make a difference?

The IWF and their supporting childrens' charities believe it will. They admit that determined offenders will find ways around the system but insist that the list is effective as it eliminates risk of accidental exposure."

Presently just 5% of UK Internet connections, mostly via the smallest broadband providers, have not yet made a commitment to adopt such filtering systems due to cost and or technical concerns. This may not last for long with both the EU and MP's in the UK government now seeking to clamp down further. In addition, it's not clear how many of the 95% have actually gone beyond a "commitment" and physically deployed IWF style filtering.

It should perhaps also be pointed out that some of the recent mistakes haven't always been the IWF's fault; in fact more often than not it seems to be ISPs that get the implementation wrong, such as when some ISP users found themselves unable to access content on the Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) website (original news).

No responsibility can be taken for the content of external Internet sites.

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