North American Network Operators Group

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RE: Network Level Content Blocking (UK) for people who cant be bothered to read the article..

  • From: michael.dillon
  • Date: Fri Jun 08 07:31:56 2007

> Have you been asked by the Dibble for the squid's server log 
> yet? It's the obvious next step - if you had a URL request 
> blocked, obviously you were where you shouldn't have been. 
> You're either with us...or you're with the terrorists.

If this website blocking is voluntary and if your goal is to protect
your customers from inadvertently loading one of their pages, then you
would not want to log any details, would you? If you want to help the
police by reducing the number of spurious hits on this known illegal
website so that they have a higher chance of tracking real criminals
from the website hits, then you would not want to muddy the waters by
sending your useless data to them, would you?

Situations like this are always very complex and it does not help when
people throw around simplistic analyses that are not grounded in
reality. There was recent media coverage in the UK that indicates there
are far more pedophiles than was thought and that real pedophiles don't
fit the common stereotypes that people have of them. To me, this
indicates that the police are struggling with data explosion and need
help in reducing that data to increase their chances of catching SOME of
the criminals. 

It does not suggest that police want to catch ALL the criminals and some
number of innocent people as well. After all, any arrests will have to
be processed through the court system and when you throw lots of
innocent people and marginal cases into the courts, the cases drag on
for a long time and clog up the system. That would be counterproductive
wouldn't it?

The objections that I see from people in regard to things like website
blocking and network tapping, seem to assume that governments are very
narrowminded, very efficient and have evil intent. In my experience,
there is a lot more systems thinking in governments that you think, they
are not terribly efficient, and they do not collectively have evil
intent. They do make a lot of mistakes, but these get corrected. If
nothing else, governments have learned that it is very bad to cover up
mistakes, but you can make a lot of political hay by admitting them and
proposing the next bold new solution.

If you really don't like something that governments do, you are better
off not attacking it in a narrow way, but suggesting that it was a
mistake and pushing government into the next bold new initiative to fix
the mistake. This works especially well around election time, but it can
also be done between elections because even the party in power changes
tack from time to time.

In this case I would suggest that it is in ISPs best interests to get
involved with network content blocking, so that ISPs collectively become
deep experts on the subject. We are then in a position to modify these
activities in a way that is beneficial to ISPs and their customers (who
happen to be voters too). And we are in a position to advise government
on future actions as well. If ISPs choose not to get involved, then they
are less likely to be listened to by government partly because they have
less credibility and partly because they simply don't understand the
issue and therefore fail to communicate effectively.

Inter-ISP cooperation is a big problem that needs to be solved on a
global scale. Fortunately, there is a growing number of international
forums in which ISPs do get together to deal with specific flashpoints.
If your company has any part of your network in the UK, please do get
involved by contacting LINX as requested:

   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
   the governments request.

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

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

--Michael Dillon