The UK firewall, controlled largely by the Internet Watch Foundation, and therefore the UK Police and Government is designed to block illegal pornography and other offensive material. However, due to the way it works nobody really knows what’s blocked. There is no published list, there are no published guidelines for what is and what is not blocked, web pages just disappear.
The end user is, in general, unlikely to know if a page has been removed as the error returned when visiting a removed web page is the standard 404 missing page error, implying it could be the hosting company that has the error, not state censorship.
Despite the obvious concerns of this technology being rolled out about across the UK there has been relatively few complaints about the subject in the mainstream media. But now the firewall, CleanFeed, has blocked a page on Wiki, causing widespread interest in the subject.
- PC Pro: Brits blocked from Wikipedia over child porn photo
- Brand Republic: Wikipedia page banned in UK over controversial child image
- The Register: Brit ISPs censor Wikipedia over ‘child porn’ album cover
The pictures are not pleasant (and even on news web sites, which are not blocked), but they have been on the album cover since the 1960s and 70s, and have been sold in record shops and book shops since then. Never, has there been a prosecution in relation to those covers.
So, is it the place of government to start censoring the internet? Well the UK government thinks so.