UK hands censorship over to barely trained kids

The UK’s move to censor the internet is dependent on a team of university students who have a day or so’s training, according to the insecurity outfit McAfee.

McAfee creates blacklists of online content, categorising sites into pornography, gambling or 30 other definitions, in order to let ISPs block them.

The outfit’s lists are used by BT and Sky for their parental controls, as part of a new government-sponsored code of conduct.

The way things are, there is no way to view the list of sites that are blocked and appeals are at the discretion of McAfee. If a site is incorrectly categorised it is jolly hard to undo it.

In the Golden Age of British Censorship, television and radio was dealt with by a perfectly normal committee of retired colonels, nuns and religious loonies. However, McAfee thinks that might be a little expensive. Besides, the overall process is mostly automated, with McAfee’s system looking for keywords on a site to classify it.

According to PC Pro, humans need to have a look to see if a porn site is hardcore or if it’s more of an erotic website.

The team responsible for covering McAfee’s customers worldwide is made up of between five to ten people and it is a fairly popular job for students. The training involves going through a number of websites and the various ratings so they get a basic idea.

A McAfee spokesman admitted the sites the small team is asked to judge are those that are the most subjective. It is tricky to draw the line between erotic and hardcore pornography.