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Network Level Content Blocking (UK)

  • From: James Blessing
  • Date: Thu Jun 07 07:56:55 2007

Hi all,

Sorry for the cross posting to a number of lists but this is an
important topic for many of you (especially if you get multiple copies).

As many people are aware there is an 'expectation' that 'consumer'
broadband providers introduce network level content blocking for
specified content on the IWF list before the end of 07.

Whilst this is seen by many as a honorable political crusade to 'protect
the innocent' many with a strong technical background are concerned that
the long term impact on network development will lead to major
'breakages' within the internet.

So far the only debate has revolved around the legal concerns that the
introduction of this technology imposes to problems on the ISP:

1. Revocation of mere conduit status; by inspecting certain content and
preventing access to it the ISP is doing more that just passing packets
and is getting involved in the content.

2. Thin end of the wedge; if we can block Child Abuse Content then we
can block copyright infringement....

3. Increased liability; by blocking the content at a network level
outside of the control of the user the ISP is potentially opening it
self to a lawsuit should content leak through the block (although many
are saying that this is not going to be enforcable it could still tie up
people in court going through the arguments with no guarantee of a win
cf mere conduit issue above).

LINX (the London Internet Exchange) and ISPA are looking to arrange a
day to address the technical issues of placing such a block in the
network. The topics are expected to include:

1. Implementation - how do you put this into place
2. Scalability - how do you provide a non-degrading service
3. Circumvention - how do you stop people getting round the block
4. Reverse Engineering - how do you hide the block (should you hide it?)
5. Messaging - what do you tell the person about what you just done
6. Legality - what is the legal impact of this
7. Security - who should have access to what
8. Sanity Checking - how to prevent poisoning of the block list
9. Testing - how do you make sure that the block is working
10. Reality - is this actually the best way to do this

We have 13 companies involved so far but really want to get as many
ISP's together to make sure that people understand the implications of
the governments request.

Whilst the intent is to focus the content on the technical side we are
keen to make sure that the all parts of the ISP industry are brought up
to date so may run multiple strands with different levels of technical
content if we have the numbers.

If you are interested please contact John Souter ([email protected]) or
Malcolm Hutty ([email protected]) for more details.


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