This month, a second Slovak mobile internet provider has kept its promise and started to filter internet access for its customers.
A month ago it was Orange, now followed by T-Mobile.
Already time ago there were cases when some (maybe can mostly name them local or minor) providers were blocking torrents, if not completely, then during daylight or for the cheapest versions. Or they were limiting traffic of users who wanted to download more than someone decides, even if they paid flat program with fast access. (To keep balance: also big players, T-Com, used limited upload speed, which has influenced torrents download.) All of this could be easily labeled as a way to lower network traffic, with the intention to minimize the price the provider needs to invest to it.
Now comes something new with the great idea of blocking child pornography.
To achieve this goal, both providers are using the British Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) database to avoid connection to some web pages – so people really interested in them must make a bit more effort to avoid this blocking.
People who responded to an online poll at SME.sk (say liberal) newspaper mostly voted ‘Yes’ for “Do you want your internet provider to block access to pages with child porn?”
If I remember well, people in China have similar opinion in case of porn generally. But things are not so simple – and not just in China. (GV posts on the “internet cleansing movement” in China are here and here.)
The IWF database is not public. (That's why it is a non-governmental organization, I think. At least in Slovakia, if it is part of the government, they must reply to citizens’ questions about what and why they're blocking.) And they operate in the British, not Slovak, law space.
It blocks also many general and legal pages for file downloads and there is no guarantee they will not block anything else they decide (the complete Wikipedia was already on their list).
Users have no official way to stop filtering. Last month, T-Mobile made initial filtering of their own adult services, but it was necessary to activate it by SMS. (Understand: of course T-Mobile's business is not related to child porn and its blockage will cover approximately about 0% of such internet services.) Now both providers are talking about no exceptions for IWF.
A question also is why Orange, with such high moral, does blocking of its mobile-network only, while optics-cable connected customers (where traffic already does not matter so much, right?) do not have this “advantage”.
So if you want uncensored mobile internet access in Slovakia you must move to O2, the newest provider here. Yes, this one is the leader of IWF filtering in the Czech Republic.
This is the actual state of things 20 years after the Czechoslovak Gentle revolution ended the Soviet-based system here.
Here's a selection of anonymous netizens’ reactions (SLO) posted at SME.sk portal:
Internet has to be free, open and uncensored. No company should start filtering, can offer it only as an extra part that needs to be switched on explicitly. Today it is child pornography, tomorrow it's the pages of right-wing parties, the day after tomorrow – academic segment or all religions except Christianity. This is not correct.
I've already reported this [to IWF]. [Orange's page with pictures for mobile phones with ‘Angels and Devils’ theme.]
čisté ruky [clean hands]:
So we will join the list. Google in China, Youtube in Turkey – and Orange in Slovakia.
Child porn is the worst thing that could be found on the internet and those responsible for it have to be jailed for long years, but this is an absolutely incorrect way, because here what is being questioned is the freedom of individual united with responsibility for own acts. After all, we are a democratic country, adult persons and not some small children, and the internet provider is not some tutor to have the right to deal with us this way.
In addition, this is a dangerous precedent and no one knows where it will end. Tomorrow they will start to block other forms of criminality at internet, that it will become something normal, state will adopt the right to deal with people preventively like with potential criminals, enter their privacy and the day after tomorrow we'll have here censorship like in China.
I personally do not care. When they are blocking porn pages focused on child pornography (if there are such), I vote for it. Maybe some people from Catholic church will miss them. [The person quoted here is referring to the much publicized pedophilia cases involving Catholic priests, but I do not remember any real cases that took place in Slovakia.]
And after a short time we all will need to learn the Chinese language. :(
And do not be surprised that no one trusts IWF – in Slovakia, we have a rich experience with censorship. That one before the November [Velvet revolution] also had a different function officially. Filtering should be good in principle, but requires credible institutions.
The problem is IWF does not block child porn only. If “by chance” a serious page appears on their list for removing they require a sponsor's check. [Note: This anonymous commenter has not provided any proof for this.]
všetci do žatvy [all to harvest]:
In that poll under the article, 27% of readers do not like child porn blocking, what kind of creatures are they?
All tragedies start with great ideas.