As the UK government consults on whether or not to force broadband ISPs into imposing default censorship of adult websites (here), it’s worth remembering just how ineffective such measures can be. One of the biggest problems is with internet search engines, such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing, which often maintain cached copies of related images and sometimes even videos.
Unfortunately all that it takes to bypass such censorship, even on ISPs like TalkTalk, is for a child to simply click off the search engines content filter. That should be a no-brainer for most kids, especially since few parents will have bothered to setup an account and even then you only have to swap web browsers, enable privacy mode or clear some cookies to avoid it.
On top of that there are multiple other ways to circumvent the skin-deep level of blocking imposed by ISPs, which future generations will now surely educate themselves about and thus risk turning the current efforts into a waste of time. We exposed many these problems in our recent article – How to Keep Your Data Private and Browse the Internet Anonymously .
Even TalkTalk has now admitted, in a comment to PCPro, that such filtering is far from perfect. The ISPs HomeSafe solution, which is often praised by the government and mistakenly called the only network-level solution (actually quite a few filters can work at the network-level, such as the free OpenDNS), has been in the news before for failing to do its job properly (here).
HomeSafe’s blocking, like similar services, is often also wildly inconsistent; the option to restrict Social Network access affects Facebook and Twitter but not Google+ and many other sites. But none of these problems are unique to a single ISP.
Most young children do not seek out porn? Well granted, most under a certain age probably wouldn’t but once you reach the pre-teen / early teens and you’re a boy.. well.. good luck stopping that. How quickly some people forget their own youth.