Thursday, December 11, 2008

UK ISPs who resist cleanfeed

This is a reprint from a contribution to a mailing list. The author of the contribution would prefer to remain unattributed for the purposes of this post.

We knew that ISP filtering in the UK is voluntary, and it now looks like the Wikipedia matter may be having some ramifications for censorsing ISPs. Seems some other ISPs have discovered/decided it's 'safe' to advertise that they don't censor.

This page led me to find a couple of UK ISPs with guts, so now we have proof that not all UK ISPs censor (I'm pretty sure there's a lot more than these two - but most probably haven't wanted to risk drawing political attention to themselves):




It is not our role to try and censor what you do with the internet. We do not try and log or limit what you are accessing. It is your responsibility to stick to the laws that apply to you. We have no intention of putting in place any censorship systems or using censored transit feeds.

Censorship systems are usually introduced under the guise of some emotive topic such as stopping child abuse which nobody could argue with. Such systems are very very unlikely to have any actual impact at all on the actual problem they claim to solve. Such systems often break or hinder the normal working of the internet, as seen by wikipedia recently. They are usually easy to circumvent. If they work at all then they just drive the offensive use underground and using encryption so making it harder to find and deal with. They are also the thin end of the wedge as once a system is in place then adding more is easy. Bear in mind most ISPs using such systems then have no control over what is censored or why. If we accept censorship for child abuse, then we have to accept it for terrorism, and then maybe political extremist views, and then maybe not so extreme views, and maybe wrong thinking, and "then they came for me and there was no-one left to speak out" ( )

Black boxes

We have no so called black boxes to covertly monitor traffic and/or pass traffic monitoring to the authorities or anyone else. Obviously the law is such that we may have to add such black boxes, but we would resist as far as possible. We may even find we are not allowed to change this web page if ever that happens. However, I, as director, am happy to answer direct questions on this matter on irc (user RevK) or on usenet and you can get paranoid if I refuse to."


UKFSN added the following to its home page in the last few days (reportedly in response to an enquiry from one of its customers):

"Statement of policy regarding censorship, Phorm/Webwise and other content interception

Our policy is that the electronic communications of our customers are private. We do not intercept, censor, scan or otherwise interfer with our customers' internet service.

UKFSN does not and will not have any dealings with Phorm, the company behind the Webwise system being deployed by some other ISPs to intercept customer internet traffic. We are firmly of the opinion that the Phorm Webwise system is illegal under UK and EU laws. We also believe it to be fundamentally unethical to intercept customer traffic in this manner. It will never happen here.

There is some suggestion that the UK government would like to mandate some form of interception and possibly censorship. We would encourage all interested persons to make it clear to MPs and the government generally that this is not acceptable."

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