Why don’t ISP’s block porn sites?

The internet in its current state (2010) is the wild west.  Typically you sign a contract with an ISP (Internet Service Provider), and then WHAM! You have the internet. Some ISP’s limit the amount of data you can transfer in a monthly period, depending where in the world you are, some may even limit bandwidth on certain protocols, for example bitTorrent, but I have yet to find an ISP that can provide “Family Safe” Internet.

From a high level perspective the way the internet works is pretty straight forward, you have a lookup chain – You make a request -> Your ISP interprets the request -> fetches the information from the remote site you’ve requested and then -> sends you back the data. There are some exceptions of this typical usage scenario, for example if you’re using a VPN, you can circumvent ISP restrictions or even geographic restrictions (due to encryption), but ALL your internet traffic routes directly through your ISP.

Its 2010, and why don’t we have family safe internet as a product?

For starters, the internet relies on HTTP operating on TCP/IP. There is pretty much only 1 protocol for ALL websites out there, this being HTTP. Because ALL content is served on 1 protocol, there is no sure way to distinguish at a protocol level the type of content you subscribe to. When you purchase an internet subscription, you’re getting EVERYTHING imaginable, both the stuff you want, and also potentially unwanted stuff. The internet just wasn’t designed initially to allow for content restrictions based on protocols. Instead the internet relied on very basic domain name extensions, and this was never intended for filtration, rather geographical and raw organisational structure. For example .com (commercial) .gov (government) .co.uk (company in the United Kingdom). The internet just doesn’t abide by one system, and often domains are selected purely on the basis of availability (the .com’s taken, lets register the .net).

You see ladies and gentlemen, the internet is lawless. Pretty much anyone can register almost anything, and publish anything. Local laws need not apply, because its possible to always find an internet host that will publish your “goods” in a country where such laws don’t exist. Because of this, and because of the sheer volume of content on the internet the onus now lies with the consumer to protect themselves or their family from undesirable content.

Now all this talk is mumbo jumbo, when all you really want is a product that performs the way you want it. For example, if you were purchasing a car and wanted a car with 3 doors and not 5, you wouldn’t have any problems whatsoever finding this. How do you think you would react if your local car salesman told you “Here is a 5 Door, take it and weld the 2 back doors shut!” Well this is the exact same attitude you’ll get from your ISP when you ask them for a family safe internet option, they’ll recommend you install NetNanny. I’ll say it again, I have yet to see ANY ISP offering family safe internet access.

What does this mean?

This essentially means that pornography will become the social norm, and its already happening. Without sounding too dramatic there is a very real chance that if you have the internet, and you have kids, they’re getting exposed to pornography. How about yourself? Are you male, impartial to the odd gawk here and there, or regularly indulge in checking out porn sites.

But what is so bad about porn?

Porn is primarily extortion, designed for one reason only to make money by exploiting our sexual natures. Unfortunately viewing porn has some unwanted side effects.

  1. Porn is a major tributary to the destruction of relationships and it breaks down moral code in a society. By this I mean, play back an experiment in your own mind, take 2 cruise ships with 100 passengers each, one ship’s passengers get entertained with only pornographic movies, the other ship sails around continually without any sexually visual entertainment. If both groups had started out the journey completely innocent and unexposed, and each ship could sail indefinitely without passengers aging. My guess is that it is inevitable that after a certain amount of time, passengers on the ship that were exposed to porn would experience gradual social decay, to the point where marriages would fail, affairs would be commonplace, threesomes would creep in, its not hard to imagine that orgies would eventually also start taking place. This is because of the progressive nature of porn.
  2. Internet porn is savage, and exposes you to stuff you should never see. No human being should ever have to look at woman with dicks, or people having sex with animals, but sadly this type of stuff is embedded along with the softer porn.
  3. Porn is boring, and usually involves the same old routines. By watching this you will desensitize your sexual desire, your lust levels will increase, but your overall excitability will decrease. To the point where you become like an addict, relying on a quick sexual fix.
  4. Porn is misleading and leads to people having sexual thoughts in otherwise normal situations. Some men begin to have social issues, and only see woman for their sexual qualities. This ironically has a negative impact on real relationship scenarios, and men can even find it hard to have regular friends who are of the opposite sex.
  5. Our brains are processing machines, You may be what you eat physically, but your brain activity  is surely comprised of the sensory data you provide it, too much of anything can not be good, even a little of a bad thing cannot be good.
  6. No God system on earth justifies pornography, mostly though by partaking in it assures you extreme punishment in the afterlife or even eternal damnation. Before you say, well I don’t believe in God, think about Pascals wager for a minute (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pascal%27s_Wager) , this is not to state proof of a God, rather you could be wrong. Since if you do believe in God, you already know porn is wrong. If you don’t, this is not to say God doesn’t exist. The word porn is derived from the word fornication, forget all the other points, and think for a minute, imagine if you die and meet God who is not at all pleased with your conduct! My suggestion is if you have a conscience then try to live up to your internal moral code and don’t get side tracked by porn. Not saying you need to be a perfect person, but surely any attempt to improve your overall quality of life, and get inline with God code would be taking into consideration in your final judgement.
  7. Lots more is wrong with porn.

I have NetNanny, we’re protected

Pretty much all internet activity is defined as a relationship between client and server. In this relationship your PC is the client. It is obvious that you have far more control over the client component, because this happens to be sitting right under your nose. Its also likely that You or members are your family can easily circumvent any attempt you may implement to block pornographic material on your computer. How easy is this to do? VERY EASY, all your 10 year old has to do is insert a Linux LIVE CD, and they can use the “family” computer without even using Windows or your well configured NetNanny! You wouldn’t even know because from your point of view the computer might have been turned off. You have a router you say that blocks out unwanted sites – Who is to say your Son doesn’t have a router of his own that he switches while you’re not at home? I’m not even mentioning that cell phones are also internet capable lately.  Anyways it simply doesn’t matter because all Johnny needs to do is spend the evening or weekend at his pals house, where James has unrestricted internet access and the damage is already done.

Lets also take into account the case of the porn addict who is tech savvy and trying to recover from an addiction, he can implement all the blocking techniques in the world, but at the end of the day only his self control and perseverance is what will make the difference. The internet is just too unprotected from this sort of thing.

What can you do?

If you have an ounce of moral fibre in your body you will assist me, and people like me try to impact on porn, child porn and the devastating effects porn has on our free world and young minds. Do the following

  1. Forward this email to everyone you know
  2. Contact your ISP by email, or if you can by phone, and ask them why it is not possible for us as consumers to have a “Family Safe” internet service.

You can quote me on the following:

ISP’s offer a variety of optional services to their clients, including more bandwidth, larger download volumes, static IP addresses. Surely there must be some kind of “Family Safe” addon that can be purchased. Remember we are not asking them to provide us with this service for free. I would gladly pay an additional fee to have clean porn free internet at an ISP level, even if it didn’t filter EVERYTHING. ISP’s need to start this revolution and need motivation, hence can charge for this service. Like everything with computers, services get better, so will filtration.

PLEASE MAKE A DIFFERENCE TODAY.

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7 Reasons why working in IT sucks lately.

I’ve enjoyed a long spree of happy programming, but I must share the following 7 reasons why working in IT can suck lately. These points are in no particular order.

  1. Time keeping / Time management: Its bad enough that you have to work your ass off in IT, having moments of either sheer boredom or extreme stress, and while your boss wants everything finished yesterday, you’re still expected to take time out of your busy schedule to mark off a time sheet with the tasks you’ve done for the day. They’re not fun and the daily nag to complete them is annoying. Failure to complete the time sheets result in management hearings. Managing this meta work data needs to be done daily or at least weekly, otherwise you end up asking yourself – “What the hell was I working on at 13:00 hours 5 days ago?”. Some companies implement systems that monitor your mouse and keyboard for activity to make sure you’re really working. I’ve had a friend who got fired for billing for time worked, while instead was having a smoke break.
  2. No testers yesterday, today or tomorrow. IT is a science relying on many skill sets to produce quality results. We’ve been developing computer programs for over 3 decades, yet companies still can’t seem to understand that a tester is NOT an optional member of the team. Programs get rolled out with bugs, and the client ends up suffering, the developer ends up taking flack, and management ends up annoyed because they’re now “over budget”. Yet no matter how many times developers inform management of requiring a dedicated testing effort, the whole crazy strained process continues.
  3. Complexity and MS marketing hype. Ready for VS2010 or .net 4. Sure you are because it has to be a whole lot better than the last load of crap Microsoft flung on the table called WCF or WF 3.5. MS market everything new as better, yet they keep adding extra complexity to their products that typically involves putting in extra seat time to learn these complexities, often the old way of doing something was better (asmx vs wcf) and the new stuff doesn’t deliver at all what the marketing hype suggests (Intellitrace or web deployment 2010).
  4. No money, shoe string development budgets. Post global crisis and the  money has dried up. Its dried up so much that developers are now being made to feel guilty for time spent on projects, you now get roped into budget meetings, and get forwarded a detailed view on the company’s internal accounting. Gone of the days of 1-2 year product development and angel funding, lately everything needs to take 3 months.
  5. Platform independence. There might not be a great deal of mainstream platforms around, but depending on the tools you have to work with even small platform changes become a nightmare. Key people in IT need to realize that its ok to have cross platform solutions in your org. Not everything has to be “Windows based”, not everything needs to run both on Linux or Windows. Virtualization should have spelt it all out long ago, yet still we seem to see key people in teams allergic to this product or that because it doesn’t run on both platforms at the same time.
  6. Upgrading. So Windows Server 2008 R2 is the latest MS server OS, or how about SharePoint 2010, perhaps even .net v4 – Well depending on the environment in which you work, you can forget about using these new products because its likely your clients might very well be sticking with Windows 2003 Server or SharePoint 2007, etc for the next 4-5 years at least. Meaning as a technology expert you want to grow with technology and implement cutting or even bleeding edge solutions, IT sucks in the way that you need to wait for your weakest link to catch up. Typically your most stable clients too.
  7. You’re always sitting down on your ass, there is no real way to get around this. I’ve met many a developer who would enjoy just throwing in the towl for 6 months just to go out and do some physical work, even work on a construction site. But then there is the money in IT, and the assured fact that if you leave for 6 months, you’ll have that gap on your CV, and you’ll be sure to have new technologies emerge during your absence. So I guess we sit a while longer…