Online porn block to hit retail sites

2013-07-23 09_01_31-Luxury Suspenders by Agent Provocateur_ Suspenders, Garter Belts & WaspiesDavid Cameron’s plan to banish online porn from family households could have a devastating effect on many legitimate Internet businesses – especially clothing retailers – according to one industry expert.
The Prime Minister revealed this week that after months of negotiation, the four UK ISPs – Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky and BT – will launch an opt-in porn blocking system, meaning consumers will be forced to choose whether their online connection can access adult content.
“By the end of this year, when someone sets up a new broadband account the settings to install family friendly filters will be automatically selected,” Cameron said. “If you just click ‘next’ or ‘enter’, then the filters are automatically on.”
But with the technology behind most systems analysing the amount of flesh tone featured in each image – and then classifying it according to the amount of nudity – sites that sell underwear, swimwear and more skimpy outfits could find themselves being blocked.
Bizarrely, according to one insider at Reed Business Publishing, this is an issue which the likes of Farmers Weekly have faced for years, with some filters recognising the skin tones of pig breeds as human flesh and blocking them.
George Anderson, enterprise product marketing manager for filtering firm Webroot, said: “None of these systems are perfect and if you’re an underwear site that’s pretty close [to a porn site] and you get blocked because of this ban, that’s going to cause issues.
“Apart from the fact you’re going to lose trade, how quickly and how you’re going to get compensated for that lost trade and who’s going to pay that compensation. Is it going to be the Government? I very much doubt it.”
Anderson said government enforced online filtering could also lead to mistrust from web users over the legalities of filtering everything searched for online.
“In effect, what it does mean that every single web request made by anyone in the UK is going to be filtered, full stop?” he asked. “If you have government filtering every request, that’s open to abuse as well. At that level, it’s concerning. We’ve had enough concern with governments and privacy with Prism.”
“I think it becomes too much about the state being involved in people’s personal lives; that’s the risk,” he said.
When the clampdown was first revealed – in October 2011 – many branded it unworkable. At the time, one expert said: “Consumers have been able to sign up to have adult content blocked for years. But this is an inexact science. You not only block adult stuff, everything else that the software deems offensive is blocked too.”

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6 Comments on "Online porn block to hit retail sites"

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  2. RT @DM_editor: PM’s clampdown on online porn could rock retail sector, too http://t.co/Wcq4X0KWcn #directmarketing #datamarketing #digitalm…

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