Study Shows That Web Blocking Ignores Real Problems, Doesn’t Solve Anything & Is Used As A Political Tool

We’ve been hearing a lot about politicians trying to restrict access rather than actually dealing with the root causes of problems a lot lately. From the horrible COICA censorship bill, to various state attorneys general pressuring websites to block forums, rather than having those AGs actually do their job and go after those responsible, it seems that politicians keep looking to put up a wall, rather than deal with real issues.

And, surprise, surprise, that doesn’t work.

Kelly was the first of a few of you to send over a report (found via BoingBoing) that looked at how child porn blocklists in Scandinavia worked — and what they found is that they didn’t work well at all. As the researchers noted: “Blocking means looking away instead of acting.”

The key findings in the report were that of the 167 sites on the list, only three of them appeared to actually contain child pornography. There were two problems here. The first is that sites that were put on the blocklist apparently were never reviewed later. But, much more importantly, it looks like once law enforcement put sites on the list, no one in law enforcement actually bothered to do anything to go after or to stop the actual perpetrators. The researchers noted that they were able to get the three sites in question taken down within hours, and wondered why law enforcement didn’t take the most basic steps to do so, or to find and arrest those responsible. As they note:

The investigators seem to be operating a “fire and forget” strategy by just putting the sites on the lists — they don’t seem to go after the crimes and the perpetrators, and they don’t unblock sites that are no longer relevant, which they should do for freedom of speech considerations.

It’s too bad that many other countries are now trying to jump on such a mistaken censorship setup, without ever bothering to see if they can actually do something about the underlying causes of the sites they’re trying to censor. It’s all too typical in politics these days. This is a way that they can pretend they’ve done something by really brushing it under the rug. It doesn’t stop the activity. It doesn’t actually go after those responsible. It just hides things (perhaps too aggressively) and forgets about it.

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