I wrote posts discussing the agreement between ISPs and the State of New York to cordon off Usenet to reduce access to child porn (at the cost of serious overblocking), and noting that states such as California were launching copycat efforts. Now, the latest domino to fall: Qwest has agreed to block access to known Web sites with child pornography (as determined by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children). Thus, this is a new ISP agreeing to filter, and a new medium: Time Warner, Verizon, and Sprint declined to block Web access. I predict we’ll see more ISPs take this step as well: there are few defenders of child porn out there, and anyone worried about overblocking will probably be seen either as focused on technical minutiae or as insufficiently concerned with child safety. This isn’t the last domino to fall.
From my perspective, this is fun. Here in the U.S., we tend to see Internet filtering as something other countries do, and usually “bad” countries at that (China, Iran, etc.). My latest project tries to make filtering unexceptional – to point out that most countries block stuff – and to suggest ways we can think consistently about what’s legitimate in on-line censorship.