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Tuesday 9 December 2008

Postscript: IWF row back

Is this 'extreme pornography'?

There was some sense of a rowback yesterday and today it's happened:
The Internet Watch Foundation [IWF] says it is still reconsidering whether its ban should remain on the image of a young girl used on the Scorpions' album Virgin Killer, after that ban prevented a number of British users accessing Wikipedia.

A spokeswoman for the IWF said that to her knowledge it was the first time in its decade-long history that any image or page banned by the IWF had been reassessed, and the first time that any page or image on Wikipedia had been banned. The IWF normally bans more than 10,000 images and associated web pages every year.
Here's Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales saying "C'mon! Do your wurst!" (And sounding a mite ignorant of their exact legal position).

And the IWF leader paddling furiously:

And I feel sorry for this poor mite! He's in over his head but trying, trying to do the right thing.

And a good comment from out-law underlining my critique of Wikipedia's libertarianistic bent:
Web hosts must not wait for an image to be declared unlawful by a court when they receive a complaint, albeit only a court can declare an image unlawful. If they wait, there is every chance that the declaration will come at their own trial.
Wales told Channel Four:
How do we draw up a boundary line that allows both routine internet expression and not pedophilia? The Internet Watch Foundation's system has been in operation for a number of years. Is it out of date?
Gonna help, Jimmy?

So what next?

This is really, purely a technocognisenti furore, despite its brief reign as top read story on Although I can imagine the Mail et al bent out of shape trying to take it all in. Grey is the colour rather than back'n'white. The Rebekkah Wade's of this world are now a wee bit lost.

But it's truly much simpler. Simply put: what does the IWF actually do to combat online child abuse? If that scourge has moved on from their simplistic techniques, what use are they?

I still doubt that much will be made of this point but the answer is simple: resource those who can excise these bastards from the net. Amateurism is a waste of time.

Is Britain capable? From January IWF, the charity, will be assessing 'extreme images' on behalf of the government (they already assess 'race hate', bet you didn't know that). Having read of a woman who asked of her local plod whether a 'borderline' image (now's there's a truly British tradition) was 'illegal' - she was referred on to the IWF then the Ministry, no one could give her a 'straight' answer - I have not much hope. The borderline' image is at the top of the post.

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