Feeds

Germany pushes IWF-style child abuse blocklist

What could possibly go wrong?

Top three mobile application threats

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. ®

SANS - Survey on application security programs

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.