Feeds

Germany pushes IWF-style child abuse blocklist

What could possibly go wrong?

Reducing security risks from open source software

The German government has proposed regulations that will oblige local ISPs to apply a government-mandated block list.

The proposal, from the Ministry for Families, is designed to prevent access to child pornography. Federal Family Minister Ursula von der Leyen told a conference in Berlin that a "binding agreement" with major ISPs will be available as soon as early March, Der Spiegel reports.

The proposed list would be updated daily and appears to function in much the same way as a similarly motivated blocklist maintained by the UK's Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). One difference is that IWF is independent of government and its list is applied on a voluntary basis by UK ISPs, whereas the German plan involves a state-administered scheme.

The IWF's blocklist has become controversial of late, particularly because recent attempts to block offensive images in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine continue to leave the entire archive intermittently unavailable to some users at ISPs that apply the blacklist. In December, the IWF responded to a complaint over images in a Wikipedia entry on Virgin Killer, a 70s album by German rockers The Scorpions, by blocking the content.

Once the filter came down surfers visiting the site from ISP who applied the control appeared to come from a single IP address, a factor that meant Wikipedia removed their ability to edit the "free encyclopedia anyone can edit". The image of a naked pre-pubescent girl contained in Virgin Killer remained widely available outside Wikipedia.

Days after applying the control, the IWF agreed to lift the ban, while maintaining that the Virgin Killer image is "potentially in breach" of UK anti-obscenity laws.

The two examples illustrate that blocklists, which serve a useful purpose in blocking offensive content, can be something of a blunt tool. The German government blocklist can expect to encounter the same sort of problems hit by the IWF list of late.

German civil liberties activists are also concerned that the role of the list will be expanded over time. Such a mission creep in the functions of the systems could, for example, allow a future hypothetical German administration to block access to abortion-advice websites or other content that somehow becomes "unacceptable".

The minister rejected arguments that future censorship concerns are any reason to avoid applying a system to control access to content universally regarded as repugnant. "Child pornography is a problem issue and clearly identifiable," von der Leyen said. ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
MPs wave through Blighty's 'EMERGENCY' surveillance laws
Only 49 politcos voted against DRIP bill
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.