BT to Use Technology to Block Child Pornography

BT have reported to the Home Office that trials of their Cleanfeed (not connected with the Cleanfeed company who offer internet filtering software, coincidentally enough) program have proved successful, and from next month they will be blocking access to child pornography sites.

The move has been applauded by children’s charities, with other internet service providers looking to adopt a similar strategy.

Internet Watch Foundation’s register of illegal sites has been around for a while to warn authorities, but technology and the fact that most of the sites are outside the UK has meant that, up until now at least, no real action has been taken.

The ban is an initiative of John Carr, internet adviser to NCH who prompted Home Office minister Paul Goggins after Carr’s successful campaign to block offending internet usenet groups. Goggins approached ISPs, including BT, for an answer.

This move from BT is sure to be a relief for many people, but at the same time poses free speech concerns: the UK is now the first Western country to impose mass censorship of the internet.

Pierre Danon, chief executive of BT Retail, said in a statement: “You are always caught between the desire to tackle child pornography and freedom of information. But I was fed up with not acting on this and always being told that it was technically impossible.”

The NCH’s guide to child safety on the internet

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?