There has been considerable recent publicity around the UK network level filtering of the internet and the Online Safety Bill which is making its way through parliament.
As predicted by many in the IT industry there have many cases of both over blocking, where access to safe sites has been denied and under blocking where access to inappropriate content has been allowed.
In response to the issues of over blocking the Government has called for a ‘white list’ of miscategorised sites to be established, this however is not the solution.
Attempting to restrict access to increasing volumes of content on the dynamic, constantly evolving internet using the single blunt instrument of a list of ‘bad’ sites is destined to fail.
What is required is a sophisticated, blended solution which includes dynamic image, video, text and hyperlink analysis derived from the commercial companies with unique expertise in those areas. Without the use of these available tools content on ‘grey’ sites, where the main site domain is safe but the individual page content is inappropriate will always be incorrectly categorised. Content is constantly changing and the fact is that a list is outdated as soon as it is published.There need to be proactive defences against malicious image exploits which can occur on known ‘safe’ sites.
The optimum solution to the issue of inappropriate online content and the clear desire to protect minors would be to provide all of the available industry technologies in a package to concerned parents and guardians, and also provide them with the knowledge to deploy them in such a way that minors are protected from inappropriate content but ordinary web user’s rights to access legal content are not restricted.
Two recent articles providing more background on this subject can be found here:
UK government tackles wrongly-blocked websites
Proposed new laws to filter internet content