Imagine that last week you’d read a blog post. It was post about porn blocking, and how there are other things we as a society should focus on if, say, we wanted to prevent child sexual abuse. It was a post about porn blocking from an abuse survivor.
One of the many people you follow on Twitter or are friends with on Facebook posted the link, and you followed it. You read the post, maybe you thought the author had made a good point or two, then you closed the tab, and that was that. Then a couple of days later you found yourself discussing porn blocking with a colleague, or a friend, and you thought, “Damn, I should link them to that post. Wonder how I find it again.”
It was a post about porn blocking from an abuse survivor. What search terms might you give Google to help you find it? The top ten search terms to hit my blog this month are (and they’re not pretty):

  • abuse porn
  • porn abuse
  • milena popova
  • survivor porn
  • abused porn
  • market failure examples 2011[1]
  • bi threesomes[2]
  • child sex porn
  • abuse porn.
  • milena porn

Now, something you might have missed what with the royal baby hype is that David Cameron’s speech actually proposed three completely unrelated measures, and that everyone has been conflating them ever since. They are

  • default-on filters at ISP level targeting pornography “and also perhaps self-harming sites”, where you would actively have to notify your ISP if you wanted the filter disabled;
  • getting the major search engines not to return any results for search terms associated with child sexual abuse;
  • and banning possession of pornography depicting simulated rape.

That’s right. Under that second proposal, nearly a quarter of people who googled for a specific post on my blog this month would have had no search results returned to them. Is there a chance that one or two of these people were actually searching for child abuse images? Yeah, perhaps. Were the vast majority of them genuinely looking for my blog post, using the search terms most likely to find it? Yep.
David Cameron’s proposals would silence me when I speak out about child abuse and porn blocking. They would silence many others, too. Next time someone tells you they spoke to the man from Google [~21mins in] and it’ll all be fine really, do remind them that they are conflating three separate measures, all of which are highly likely to be ineffective in actually protecting children, and some of which are indeed equivalent to censorship.
Oh and do sign the Open Rights Group petition against porn blocking.

[1] A variation on this seems to make the Top 10 every month. I’m guessing this post has somehow made it onto a first-year economics reading list.

[2] Remember, just because someone is bisexual doesn’t mean they want a threesome with you.

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