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UK.gov's web filtering mission creep: Now it plans to block 'extremist' websites

Of course, it doesn't define what 'extremist' means here

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Whitehall is carefully floating plans that might result in ISPs being forced to start blocking "extremist" websites.

The first hint reached us in October, when the Premier – basking in what he believed to be a victory against the ubiquity of smutty websites, with big name ISPs set to bring in network-level filters – told Parliament that he was mulling over ways "to counter the extremist narrative, including by blocking online sites."

On Wednesday, Home Office crime and security minister James Brokenshire told a gathering of telcos in London that there would be an announcement shortly on the PM's proposals.

A Home Office spokesman, when quizzed by The Register, declined to comment on what those plans would involve, or whether the government would reveal more before the year is out.

The Internet Service Providers' Association said it was in the dark about Whitehall's latest mutterings to once again appear to threaten some form of regulation being imposed on the UK's broadband networks.

“Industry and ISPA have discussed extremist content online in the past but ISPs have not been made aware of details around ‘blocking’ this content," ISPA general secretary Nicholas Lansman told El Reg.

"We look forward to scrutinising the government’s plans and if and when they are made public."

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Fun is reminding taxpayers that they will soon be nagged by ISPs to confirm whether they want their households to have access to porn and other supposedly contentious content online.

"[B]y the end of 2014 all existing customers will have been presented with an unavoidable choice about installing family friendly content filters which the user will not be able to skip," the Department for Media, Culture and Sport said. Only the adult account holder will be able to change the filter settings."

BSkyB recently switched on its network-level malware and porn blockers, while BT and Virgin Media are expected to bring their own DNS lookup systems soon. TalkTalk brought in its Homesafe service way back in 2011, with the help of Chinese networking giant Huawei.

The DCMS claimed that kids fondling slabs would now be better protected about the supposed evils of sex and violence lurking online.

"We have worked with industry to make it far easier for parents to be confident their children are being protected," said Culture Secretary Maria Miller. “Parents need to think about putting filters on their accounts and finding out more about keeping children safe online." ®

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