David Cameron wants to block certain “pornographic” search terms. He joins a long list of MPs who simply don’t understand what they’re talking about – like Claire Perry, Andy Burnham, and Helen Goodman.
I’ve talked before about my time working as an “Adult Material Classifier” for Vodafone UK. In short, my team and I used to watch pornographic videos and classify whether they were suitable for inclusion on Vodafone live.
There were the usual limitations (no more than two participants, all over 18 etc) we also had a list of banned words.
It contained the usual sexual and racial slang which was verboten – as well as strawberry and teabag.
I had obviously lead a very sheltered life. I had no idea that “to teabag” was a thing. Nor that one could “procure a strawberry” to defile. But, you can, and people do.
I can understand that David Cameron wants people not to be able to search for “obvious” search terms – but how do you block ambiguous terms? It’s not hard to imagine to sort of depraved search query which would produce this image:
As people see what is being filtered, it’s fairly easy to switch to a slang which has no “official” meaning. In China, the Government regularly censor discussion about the massacre at Tienanmen Square. Forbidden from mentioning the date of June 4th, locals instead refer to May 35th.
So, how does any search engine filter out “innocent” terms which may lead to “illegal” images?
I’ll leave you with a quote from the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China in the Global Times (emphasis added):
Web regulation in public’s best interest
Many countries are trying to regulate their Internet services. Under pressure from public opinion, many well-known websites are becoming more self-disciplined. For example, Facebook has started to provide training for its website regulators to help identify and delete inappropriate remarks. In Turkey, where chaos and turmoil are running rampant, the Turkish government criticized social media as the top threat. Similar denouncements have also been heard from the British Parliament.
What exalted company our wise and infallible government are keeping.