Porn Proxy Time – Iceland to Ban Pornography Online

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Porn Proxy Post Updated September 2019: As the UK attempts a Similar Porn Block

I thought I’d update this post, as it’s a subject that is at the forefront of various state sponsored internet censorship plans across the world.  The good news is that it seems incompetence and the lack of technical understanding are thwarting these efforts.  Iceland have still not implemented their nationwide porn block some 5 years after this article was originally published.  The reason why the block hasn’t been installed yet and why a huge proportion of the population need a porn proxy to enjoy adult entertainment online in Iceland is unclear.

Well if you like to idle away those long winter nights (and days) in Reykjavik by surfing a little porn online, then you might want to consider moving away or at least invest in a porn proxy! The Iceland Government have decided they want to do something good for their citizens (as opposed to bankrupting the country with a hopeless banking system) and are going to ban pornography from the web in Iceland.

Off to Purchase a Porn Proxy ?
Funny but largely irrelevant photo.

Every time I see these sort of stories my heart sinks, why can’t people just leave the internet alone and let people make up their own minds.  You might think that it’s all for a good cause, banning all that nasty porn stuff and everyone will behave and be nice to each other.  Who knows they might be right, but what I do know is that censoring and filtering the internet doesn’t work – it never does.

An adviser to Iceland’s interior minister-  Ogmundur Jonasson who is drafting the legislation was quoted as follows –

“At the moment, we are looking at the best technical ways to achieve this…..but surely if we can send a man to the moon, we must be able to tackle porn on the internet.”

A comment that first got me thinking, can Iceland actually send a man to the moon and secondly they haven’t got a clue about how to achieve this and what sort of issues they will face.

It’s just another of these populist ideas that politicians have, the fact that when you start censoring and filtering  the internet, you also start to erode people’s civil liberties.   I have no idea if there is any scientific basis to the argument that no porn on internet = less rape and sex crimes, I suspect very little.  However I do know that any content filtering will only work against a minority of citizens and almost exclusively on the law abiding ones.

There are so many ways to bypass these filters, that your average sexual predator will easily be able to access whatever pornography they like.  The Chinese Government have invested billions in their Great Firewall of China and yet your average 12 year old Beijing schoolboy can easily bypass them using a simple VPN or high anonymity proxy.   Do we have any evidence that Iceland will come up with a technical solution more advanced than the People’s republic of China – obviously it it’s not going to happen.

What will happen is that another Government will have a little more control over it’s citizens, but only the ones who follow rules anywhere.  The Iceland government will also have this infrastructure installed so maybe next year they’ll think of some thing else we shouldn’t do online and will add that to the banned list.  It always happens you start by banning one thing then it just get’s easier and easier to control more aspects of what people can do online.

Britain Follows Suit – Watch the Sale of Porn Proxy Services Soar

The United Kingdom government has been for some time trying to implement a similar plan.  Not quite as draconian as Iceland, but certainly it’s upsetting lots of people who resent the amount of control that the state is imposing on law abiding citizens.

Basically they’re trying to regulate access to pornography rather than ban it completely.  The main justification is the entirely understandable aim to restrict the access to porn to young people and children.  Again though the attempt is completely misguided and almost impossible to implement effectively.  Fortunately the UK Government hasn’t managed to launch this attempt yet – here’s a brief report on the last delay – source:

The UK’s age-verification system for online pornography will be delayed for around six months because the government failed to inform the EU of its proposals, the culture secretary has said.

The already delayed policy, which will require all adult internet users wanting to watch legal pornography to prove they are over 18 by providing some form of identification, was due to come into force on 15 July.

However, the culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, told the House of Commons, that would not happen, because of a failure to comply with European law in how statutory instruments are passed.

“In autumn last year, we laid three instruments before the house,” Wright told the Commons. “One of them sets out standards that companies need to comply with. This should have been notified to the European commission, and it was not. This will result in a delay in the region of six months.”

The delay, first reported by Sky News, is likely see the issue of age verification fall under the responsibility of the next prime minister.

Wright emphasised that the delay did not mean the government was backing down from its policy. “There are also those who do not want these measures to be brought in,” he said, “but let me be clear, although this is an apology for the delay, it is not a change in policy. Age verification needs to happen, and in the interest of the needs of children, it must.”

Labour’s Cat Smith, responding, said the announcement was “proof that an important policy issue has descended into utter shambles”.

It’s negative, oppressive and most of all it doesn’t work and as we can see from the examples of both Iceland and Great Britain it’s a much more complicated subject both morally and technically.   Imagine the administration and management that this scheme involves and then contemplate that one of the most important steps required initially was that it needed to inform the European Commission because of the conflict with European Law.  Now forget the Brexit arguments about this, but it’s a simple but important administrative and legal step which the Government just forgot to do.  Doesn’t inspire you with confidence that the system will be managed efficiently and professionally does it.  Let’s hope they don’t forget to look after the list of porn users that  this system will potentially create.

If you want another slight worry about how this will be managed, well actually a huge one!  Consider that the company being tasked with implementing the age verification procedure (and responsible for managing the allowed users database) will be a company called MindGeek.   Fine until you also find out that this company is also owner of the biggest porn site in the world – PornHub – conflict of interest possibly!!

Company Entrusted with Managing the Age Verification is one of the World’s Biggest Pornographers ! 

Most governments cite the ‘protecting young children’ from pornography angle when justifying these counter measures.   However they have rarely reference the technical facts that current methods are simply ineffective.   Also even in the United Kingdom where  the measures suggested are much less draconian that Iceland there are huge information and privacy implications.

Ask yourself if you would like to be included on a state list of pornography users?

Already any government can easily analyse, log and harvest everything you do online.   If you don’t use any sort of security products like VPNs then there’s nothing really hidden by default.  The irony is the younger you are the more likely you are to know about proxies and VPNs which are used for downloading movies and music safely.   Which would also completely bypass any of the Icelandic and UK Governments censorship attempts easily.

If you’re in Iceland, Kuwait, Iran, China or anywhere else where the Governments decides whether you can watch porn, politics , sports or whatever – then try this – Identity Cloaker, it’s not just a simple porn proxy either over, but a sophisticated security product that can bypass all sorts of blocks and filters and keep you COMPLETELY hidden whilst you do so!