Architect of UK porn filter scheme sued after hack spat

18 Comments

Claire Perry, the member of parliament who led the campaign for an on-by-default porn filter in the UK, is being sued by a blogger after accusing him of “sponsoring” a hack on her website. The whole episode provides a fascinating insight into Perry’s technical knowledge.

Here’s what happened: a couple of days ago, someone hacked Perry’s website to display offensive images. Paul Staines, a right-wing political blogger who writes as “Guido Fawkes”, duly reported on the incident, complete with a screenshot of one of the more tame images displaying on Perry’s site. Perry took to Twitter to accuse Staines of “hosting a link that distributed porn via my website”; Staines replied that Perry was “confused by technology”; Perry didn’t back down, and repeated her reference to “the hacking of my website sponsored by @GuidoFawkes.”

(Click here to read the full, facepalm-worthy argument.)

Now, don’t forget that the UK has very strict libel laws. While Staines is usually on the defensive rather than offensive side of such issues, he polled his readers to see whether they thought he should sue. Eighty six percent said he should, so late on Wednesday Staines wrote that he was “reluctantly” instructing his lawyers.

If you’re reading this site, chances are you don’t need to be told that a screenshot of a hack does not equate to responsibility for said hack – in terms of determining cause and effect, it’s utterly back-to-front. But then again, Perry reacted to the news of her porn-blocking success by claiming it “represents a comprehensive and pragmatic approach to tackling the key issues which threaten the safety of our children online.” As I and many others have argued, the system won’t do what it’s meant to, and will probably lead to the unintended censorship of a wide range of online material.

Perry is, however, probably a bit more technically literate than Rhoda Grant, a member of the Scottish parliament. Grant recently asked why, if there is a watershed on TV – the 9pm break point before which adult material shouldn’t be shown, for fear of children seeing it – there can’t be one for the internet too.

The U.S. had Ted Stevens and his “series of tubes”; the United Kingdom has Perry and Grant. I think there’s a strong case for lawmakers being forced to undergo some basic training on how the internet works before they get any opportunity to try “fixing” things through new legislation.

18 Comments

Tony Miller

There’s still a watershed? So that wasn’t a naked man’s arse I saw on channel 4 while eating dinner/tea at 6pm? Funny, sure looked like it. I’ve heard the words bastard, arse and vagina before watershed. Innuendo isn’t allowed but outright vulgarity is, along with increasingly graphic violence but of course the internet’s to blame. Not TV, not the lube and condom ads on bus stands, not inappropriately dressed models advertising perfume and underwear in teen mags and not poor parenting. Yeah, sure. I love how they’re arguing that some parents don’t have the technical know how to prevent things, can see why the fool would think that but I didn’t think it took any technical know how to watch what your kid’s doing and check sites beforehand. Besides, banning anything to do with violence, the word naked, alcohol, smoking, anorexia and other eating disorders and web forums will only encourage the problems of youth today. After all, if a child has an eating disorder guess what, that filter will block sites for support groups and helpful suggestions to overcome the disorder.

Darren P Meyer

Grant recently asked why, if there is a watershed on TV – the 9pm break point before which adult material shouldn’t be shown, for fear of children seeing it – there can’t be one for the internet too.

While I suspect most of your target audience understands why that’s ludicrous, it would have been nice to see a brief explanation so that I wouldn’t have to explain it to every non-technical person I send this link to…

Slutocrat

I’ve interviewed Rhoda Grant about sex work and she seems clueless about that, too – despite twice creating a Bill to criminalise buying sex (the ‘Swedish model’). She told me the Swedish government didn’t classify increased stigma against sex workers as a positive outcome of their law – but they did. Libel laws are too strict here. I’m just happy that it’s Guido who’s suing Perry and not the other way around. I’m not impressed with Dorries getting her lawyer to monitor all of Twitter- politicians should expect and be able to deal with criticism. The best way to block porn is to make porn laws the same as libel laws. Because of an Aussie case, the names of two people close to Cameron who were having an affair couldn’t be revealed anywhere on the internet because a Brit might see them and that would be against libel laws in the UK. Which is ridiculous. If we had this nonsense about porn we could effectively ban porn for the entire world. At least this case really is libel and not about revealing true information (which by the way is now sueable as libel, too). Even though it’s true.

Stevie Wonder Boy

No point you can’t train a monkey to do brain surgery.

And the best part of this, she is just about to be promoted to a minister of state in the present government.

Calum

To be fair, I don’t see how the a 9pm “watershed” for porn is any dafter an idea than that of a universal porn filter to start with. If UK ISPs could make the filter work (which of course they can’t, really), there’s nothing to stop them turning it off for network requests that came in at certain times of the day, either UK time or in the browser’s local timezone. (Though you could presumably just change the time on any given device to work around the latter).

ClamDigger

Someone should create a filter for clueless politicians…

madasafish

Shock horror. politician makes a fool of herself.

Where is Nadine?

El Marco

Interesting…

So, we have an MP proving to one and all (and my 13 year old had a good chuckle at this) that the Internet really is beyond their intellectual grasp… Yet, they are allowed to promote a law which won’t tackle the real problems? Interesting.

How does this brainiac keep her job I wonder?

alister

MP

Job requirements: a Pulse
Education: not required
Skills: None

rutty

These clueless idiots barely understand economics. What chance have they with something technical?

georgecooperpearson

Wow, accusing someone of inciting hacking on the basis of the fact that an individual with a profile disagrees with a policy which 70%+ of the population disagree on. Furthermore this woman is consulting on a technological issue? What an absolute farce.

Angus Swan

Or an IQ test before being allowed to stand for election. Sadly, politicians in the UK these days are elected on the basis of how they can push the emotive buttons of the electorate with total claptrap rather than in their ability to construct rational policies.

A S

I sometimes feel that there should be an IQ test before you are even allowed to vote.

Morgan

Have you been paying any attention to our Congress in the States. Most of them seem to be asleep at the wheel. Many years ago, Senator Roman Hruska (R-Nebraska) voting in favor of an intellectually challenged nominee to the Supreme Court said, “So what if he is mediocre? There are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren’t they? We can’t have all Brandeises, Cardozos, and Frankfurters and stuff like that there.”

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