It’s almost done. To fight child pornography on the Internet, the French government has a project of law (article in French) to filter all websites giving access to child pornography. The list will be distributed to all French ISP’s and they will have to block access to those websites (on a technical point of view). How? Proxies? DNS blacklisting? Null routing? Who cares.
Of course, regulation must occur on the Internet. Prosecution is mandatory. There is absolutely no debate here but, after reading the article, I’ve some reflections about the way the French government would like to implement the filter:
1. First point is very basic but what about the price? A new technical solution has a cost. Will the extra cost affect the end-user invoice?
2. One more time, the Internet is pointed as “the Hell”. It’s just a new media, a way of distributing data. Child pornography exists (hélas) since ever.
3. It’s quite easy to bypass such filters: Users will use open proxies or encapsulate traffic into other protocols. Child pornography professionals will move their websites in a quicker way or find new ways to deliver the data. Result: it will be far more difficult to track them.
4. If they forget HTTP and use other protocols, will they also by blacklisted? No more P2P? What about Usenet? IRC?
5. French authorities will build and maintain the blacklist. The filter will restrict child pornography but in the (near) future? If on a technical point of view, everything will be ready at the ISP side, how to avoid derives to stronger censorship? (political, ethical, …)
6. A blacklist of websites will not protect our children! Risks will remain the same during a chat session or by walking down the street!
The most important is to protect our child against those criminals! Talk to them, explain them the risks, communication is a must! My 0.02€.