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Filtering Out Common Sense

One thing really struck home while researching my latest Dark Reading piece on a proposed U.K. law that could ask ISPs to install content filtering to block British users from viewing child porn by the end of next year. (See Restricting All but the Predators.) Here's the thing: Those who'd like to block these images are only just starting to come to grips with the wired Internet, and they're looking to a content blocking system that can be circumvented anyway. What the hell are they going to do about the millions of Internet-enabled phones and PDAs already out there? I have no doubt the watchdogs like the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) are very well intentioned – and they have done a good job in removing illegal content from servers in the U.K. But blocking content from around the world on all the possible wired and wireless networks and devices is a really tall order.

I did ask the IWF if they had considered how to block such content on mobile devices (which, after all, are far more available to many more kids around the world than home PCs). In fact, because they asked me to, I emailed some questions about this to them. I haven't heard back yet.

And that's part of the problem with all these schemes. They sound good and they make politicans look as if they are doing something to deal with a scourge of a tech-savvy society. But in reality, it's like grabbing a band-aid after your arm has just been blown off.

And even blocking content, which 3G carriers have already started talking about, doesn't protect the younger users of these devices from potential predators.

The only way we could try to stop this is through global law enforcement to shut down servers around the world and imprison the perpetrators. But even from my limited research into the matter I don't expect to see this happen anytime... ever.

As some of the people quoted in the piece said, it really all comes down to education – at home, at school – to try and stop kids from getting into harmful situations. And if that makes you feel somewhat depressed, as I know it does me, well... Bear in mind that in reality the online threat is still a very small one at the moment, even if we can't yet know how (or if) it might grow in the future.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:51:39 AM
re: Filtering Out Common Sense Dan, this has been happening for a few years now. Here is one example of a partnership between Nortel and Websense. Vodafone implementation...there are a slew of others. So, why not have it on Mesh Networks?

http://www2.nortel.com/go/news...

http://www.slashphone.com/74/2...
meshsecurity 12/5/2012 | 3:51:23 AM
re: Filtering Out Common Sense Dan> You asked

I did ask the IWF if they had considered how to block such content on mobile devices (which, after all, are far more available to many more kids around the world than home PCs). In fact, because they asked me to, I emailed some questions about this to them. I haven't heard back yet.


Answer> By using user context information that can be dynamically mapped to policies that are used to filter http requests either against a local database, or via an "in-the-cloud" proxy service. Been doing this for sometime. Service works like this. You add your kids cell phone to your service plan and you have an option to block access to certain websites (sorta' like a NetNanny for cell phones). The SIM/UserContext of the phone which is used for authentication is dynamically mapped to the policies that parents have selected.

There are several reasons to block access to content on the internet, and filtering 3G networks does not involve pedophiliacs preying on kids, but kids surfing porn on their cellphones b/c they can do it on the family PC which already has filtering software on it. Let's call this "Parental Control" for lack of a better term.

With 3G cellular phones "parental control" can be circumvented by kids accessing data services on these devices.

The filtering of these devices extends "parental control" to the 3G network. Customers want this functionality b/c the providers have spent millions working with security companies to develop the methods to implement such schemes.

So, now my question back to you is does a MuniWireless network represent a circumvention of parental controls?

Through content filtering we have extended "parental control" in the home, on 3G networks, and in libraries/schools(through CIPA). So, why not on MuniWireless networks ?


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