It’s difficult to tell if this crazy, techno-backward, filtering scheme that the UK Government is intending to implement is actually going to happen. After all the Government is in turmoil and is currently trying to pick a new Prime minister from a bunch of distinctly shady looking characters, so it’s actually difficult to tell.
Some have suggested that they might just shelve it or push it back quietly. However there seems to be no sign of this and it looks like the mad scheme might actually be released. Here’s the latest opinion from the guys at Torrent Geek who are quite rightly pointing out another drawback.
This summer the UK government will attempt to ban underage access to sites that have a third or more of their content dedicated to porn. Everyone will be required to verify their age and sites that don’t comply with the regime will be blocked by ISPs. However, citizens who seek to circumvent the rules with VPNs, for example, will also find pirate sites wide open again.
Before the dawn of the mainstream Internet, underage access to pornographic content meant trying to sneak a glance over someone’s shoulder at a well-thumbed adult magazine.
Or, if you were ‘lucky’, finding a VHS cassette in a friend’s dad’s cupboard, behind the coats and shoes, in a box, inside another box, in an envelope marked “holiday video”. Such things apparently happened.
With the dawn of the Internet, things have certainly changed. With just a few clicks, one can find pornographic material, with ‘graphic’ often being the operative word. What adults choose to watch is their business, but children being able to access much of the content on today’s platforms is probably not what most parents want.
So in the absence of traditional parental controls, the UK government has stepped in to prevent youngsters from inadvertently stumbling across adult content. From July 15, the country will adopt a checking scheme that will require profit-making sites with more than a third of their content pornographic in nature to verify visitors’ ages.
So basically by implementing their porn filter, the UK Government will be simply enabling a culture of filter avoidance. It’s very likely to happen, just the same way as it does in China – where I’ve heard of very small children routinely using VPNs to access blocked content from he Chinese state. You will probably find a VPN client shortcut sitting on loads of laptop and desktops for all sorts of reasons not just as a way to bypass the uK porn filter.
So finally after many years coming up with a stupid plan, the UK Government is about to try to control access to porn supposedly to protect our children. Apparently with little discussion and consultation it’s now about to be implemented on July 15th backed by a comprehensive UK age verification system. The United Kingdom will be the proud owner of the first advanced democratic nation to implement a nationwide ban on accessing pornography online.
It appears though they haven’t really spoke to anyone apart from a few children’s charities. There certainly doesn’t seem to have been any input from anyone who knows something about technology.
First of all I’d like to state that
a) I have kids
b) I don’t want them looking at porn
However I still think it’s a stupid idea, but before pointing out why – here’s a quick summary of what’s going to happen.
On the 15th July, anyone visiting a Pornography site from the UK will be presented with an age verification check. Now many porn sites already have these, but currently they are merely a ‘Are you Over 18 button’ which you just have to press to confirm. There are no real checks on these buttons and this is what will fundamentally change.
All these sites will require any user from the UK to verify their email address, then their current age. There will be a variety of options to do this, including using a credit card, uploading scans of driving licenses or passports.
If you don’t like the idea of scanning your passport and uploading it to some website so you can gain access to pornography then there is another option. You can also visit a local shop or newsagent and verify your age and address there. In exchange you will be given a card or ‘porn pass’ which you can use to verify your age on the websites with a code.
Why the UK Porn Block is a Bad Idea
1) Goddamit there’s porn everywhere!
We probably all realise that there’s a lot of porn online. However it might come as surprise precisely how much. Nobody knows for sure of course, but even conservative estimates are pretty staggering. This article suggested that over 37% of the entire internet is made up from pornographic material.
Now even this is wrong there’s no doubt that there are literally millions of pages of pornography all over the internet. Much of it unregulated or posted casually in forums, social media sites, bulletin boards or shared via places like Twitter. Of course the big, legitimate multi million pound porn sites will implement these changes. However I suspect that a small website hosted in Ukraine by a bloke called Ivor who likes large breasted Grandmothers is not going to be that bothered about implementing the UK Government’s controls.
Basically one reason the porn block won’t work is because most porn sites will not bother installing the controls. In reality the only sites that will are probably never targets for kids anyway.
2) Push the Problem Underground
What inevitably happens if you start to regulate or control something like this, is that it goes underground. If you block access by age verification to established porn sites, people won’t just stop using porn they’ll just visit the sites which aren’t regulated or controlled. So instead of accessing popular or mainstream porn sites, more and more people will start using the dark web ones or those hosted in countries who don’t care about the UK’s Porno campaign.
3) A Massive Porn User Database Run by The Government
Let’s just consider what the Government is actually creating here – a massive database of millions of of UK porn users. Every person who wanted to watch porn online would have to add their details to this database. Sounds kind of intrusive? How many people would be comfortable adding their name to this list? Of course, why the hell should they ask permission and register their sexual interests with the government.
Even if you trusted the Government to protect and handle this information carefully (hmm) – the potential risks of accidents or misuse are extremely high. What if the information was compromised, and people started posting lists of teachers or clerics or police staff who were listed as ‘registered porn users’. Irrespective of the legality, the potential embarrassment and humiliation would be awful.
Hands up who wants to register their sexual preferences with the government so they can store it in a database that they promise never to use and keep safe.
4) It’s Easy to Bypass
The implementation of the technical infrastructure behind this is bound to be hopeless. They almost always are whenever Governments attempt these sort of ill thought out projects. There have already been rumours that one of the main age verification companies involved will be MindGeek using their AgeID system. The slight issue with this company is that they own three of the world’s largest porn sites, no conflict of interest there then! Although they keep that fact very quiet it should be said, nothing on there website for example.
Irrespective of how the age verification process is implemented the core problem will be that the UK Porn filter is only applied to UK people. I’m sure the French wouldn’t be too impressed if the UK Government decided which porn sites they could visit! This puts us with only one option, geo-location – determining peoples location from the IP address they connect with. So every porn site will look up the inbound connection, and if it’s from the UK then the age verification module will be implemented.
This means that every half decent VPN service can be used to bypass these blocks easily. If you ensure your VPN is connected through a Non-UK server then you’ll be completely unaffected by the UK Porn Block as it won’t apply to you. Many children are well aware of this technology as they’ve been using VPNs for years to download pirated films and music online. Unfortunately as most won’t be able to afford the fast, safe versions they’ll end up using the dodgy free VPNs that install malware and hard porn popups on your computer instead.
Anyone with the slightest technological knowledge will be able to use a VPN like Identity Cloaker to bypass the UK Porn filter with no effort whatsoever. That would mean they could watch porn without any restrictions and crucially without being added to the Government’s registered porn users list.
Fingers crossed it doesn’t happen – the UK porn block is a pointless, stupid and intrusive idea but if it does – do yourself a favor and use a VPN. This our favorite – the best VPN which will keep your identity completely protected if you do want to watch porn online.
It’s quite incredible to believe that in 2019 that there exists an application who’s primary purpose for Saudi men is to monitor and track women’s movements. It’s provided by the Saudi government and it’s called Absher.
Now for anyone from a Western style democracy this would seem obscene, inhuman and unbelievable, yet it’s very real and currently even available on the Google Play Store to install on your smartphone. First though there’s a couple of background facts that you need to be aware of –
Saudi Law stipulates that every woman must have a male guardian.
Much of this guardian system has been computerized and put online.
Guardians are allowed to specify which airports women can travel from (or not)
System send text message alerts to guardians when women use their passports.
This is not a new system it has existed for years.
It’s incredible, amazing, the digital 21st century meets the medieval ages courtesy of the Saudi Arabian State. What’s more it seems that this is application has even been given mainstream approval by appearing in places like the Google Play Store and Apple App store too.
Looks quite friendly and innocuous, doesn’t it? Absher has many meanings in Arabic which don’t really tell the real story – ‘your request is granted’, ‘good tidings’ and ‘at your service’. However these phrases are only really true if you’re male, for this application and digital service effectively enslaves women under the guardianship laws.
Imagine sitting behind this application is a database of Saudi Arabian women, with details and settings which are controlled by their male guardians. Now much of the Absher system is very ordinary and wouldn’t look out of place in London or New York. You can pay government fines, register the birth of a baby or renew your driving license (if you’re male obviously!).
Yet you really can use Absher to specify which (if any airport) a women can use to fly out of the country. Permission can be given or revoked with a couple of button clicks, so for example you could block local airports. If your digitally tracked female attempts to use one of these airports their ‘male guardians’ would notified by an SMS message to their phone.
The control over women is just restricted to which airports they can use either. The guardian can specify how many journeys the woman can take, where they can travel to and for how long. It’s supposedly there for safety yet obviously it is capable of much more. Many women attempting to escape from the confines of Saudi Arabia are caught using this system. As soon as any women attempts to use a passport they are effectively alerting any male guardian of their location and intentions.
The state argue that Absher app is available for women to use too, however this doesn’t include the travel permission pages. Any woman who wants to escape what in some cases is little more than legal slavery has to find a solution to evade Abshar. Many young women steal guardians phones and reset passwords, they can then give themselves permission to leave. Obviously this has to be done quickly before hte guardian realizes and resets those permissions.
Digital technology does offer some balance though to this grim story of modern day repression. It comes from the internet and social media which is full of stories of women escaping Saudi Arabia and starting new lives. There are lots of forums and groups where women and girls share tips and advice about making their own escape plans. Women are becoming aware that there are options and that other countries will offer them asylum if the escape the Kingdom itself. News and documentaries are spreading word of their plight too including some programmes still on the BBC iPlayer which are available by proxy. The pictures of happy, escaped Saudi women living normal lives in other countries are in themselves inspirational.
When people talk about the benefits of digital marketing and the prospects for success, I’m always inclined to think of some of the people I know who have completely transformed their lives. Now I know if you start researching things like digital marketing or making money online that you’ll find a whole host of promotional stories.
You know the type, we’ve all read them –
“I was homeless and in debt but after starting the megarich program I became fabulously wealthy in just a few weeks. Not only that I discovered that I only had to work ten minutes a day and the cheques kept rolling in.”
Now hopefully, nobody will believe this stuff but unfortunately many do. It doesn’t take much to convince some people with these stories, after all we’re all desperate to believe it anyway. If you’re desperate, optimistic, fed up or simply a little bit gullible it’s extremely tempting to risk a few bucks to buy into this dream. In many ways it’s no worse than buying a few lottery tickets. However it’s important to to remember these are sales pages and although there may be a small kernel of truth to the story, most of it will be hyperbole and exaggeration.
Yet promotional stuff like this is almost certainly the reason that most people fail in their efforts to change their lives and fail in digital marketing. Which is a huge shame as there is huge potential there for most people to change their lives completely online.
How Can I Start Digital Marketing
Well first of all it’s best to remember that pretty much all the skills and knowledge are actually available online. However the difficulty is that finding, using and making money from this knowledge is much, much harder. If you find someone you trust who can it explain, help and mentor you then your chances of success are much higher.
One of the main problems is that there’s so much, choice and potential it’s very difficult to actually get started. The phrase digital marketing in itself is quite confusing as it covers pretty much everything. This makes it difficult to start and easy to waste time in procrastinating. yet you won’t get started by reading endless posts or by drifting and watching the BBC or YouTube.
In reality though the majority of people start in a few ways – creating websites, videos or social accounts and making money from them either through advertising revenue or selling stuff. I would estimate this covers 90% of people I know who make great livings from the internet. Much of it can be deemed as digital marketing, yet if you met some of the most successful you’d never believe that they were ‘successful marketers’.
So let’s take probably the most popular initial option – building a blog or website and promoting some sort of product. It can be literally all set up in a few minutes if you know what you’re doing, but if you have to learn from scratch it can take months or even longer. Believing the wrong people or following the wrong advice can add to this learning curve and can lead to frustration and people giving up right at the beginning of the process.
However there are simple guides and people willing to help without wanting to sell you overpriced rubbish at every turn. Here’s a marketer I trust demonstrating how easy it is to actually build your first web site –
That’s great, practical information on how to get started and it’s completely free. You can follow the video and create your very first affiliate site and start your journey in an afternoon. It should be available every where but if you get blocked try using region free DNS servers to access it. What’s more apart from paying for some basics it doesn’t even cost very much at all to get started either.
However many people can take ages getting to that point and will often spend a small fortune on over hyped products in the process. It’s really not necessary, and although there are products and information which can make your progress quicker you should be especially cautious before buying them.
Who Can Become a Successful Digital Marketer
This is actually fairly easy to answer because it’s virtually everyone. In practice that’s not entirely true but as far as financial, intellectual or practical barriers there are very few. The reason that the vast majority of people do fail is because it does take hard work, persistence and a somewhat resilient personality. If you can become successful in self employed roles in the physical world though there’s little to stop you succeeding in the digital marketplace too.
We shouldn’t underestimate the numbers who do fail though as it’s certainly a huge proportion. I’ve seen many estimates and of course it’s difficult to measure but I’d be surprised if it fell below 90% failure rate. The majority of people who fail though are those who simply gave up before they succeeded. It’s a statement that’s especially true in digital marketing as the potential is there for everyone.
Important points to remember though, are firstly it does take lots of time. The days where you could start up and make a fortune in a week or so are long gone. Although some video bloggers and people marketing on social networks can make money very quickly. However although you can potentially create and promote hundreds of social network accounts very quickly using something like Jarvee – the skills and knowledge needed can take a long time to develop.
Secondly it’s the work ethic, and this shouldn’t be underestimated. I normally focus on affiliate sites which promote technology products. Currently I’d expect to work on a site for at least a year before I’d expect it to generate a reasonable income. That’s a huge amount of unpaid work that had to be done before a return is realized. Of course, it’s much easier if you know that your work will eventually be rewarded but it’s tough first time to keep going which is why most don’t.
We’ve all come across fabulous websites which look completely abandoned. That’s because of the huge effort involved in maintaining, updating will eventually take it’s toll especially when they’re not generating any income. A successful website which does generate income however is much easier to throw time and resources into!
Start with an Interest
Whether you choose to develop a web site, social accounts or create a killer YouTube channel then there’s one thing you should definitely consider. Make sure that the topic or product you promote is something you’re interested in because otherwise you’ll be unlikely to succeed.
If you have a real interest in a subject then creating content will be much, much easier. Some of the most successful websites and channels on the internet where started as hobby/interest sites. I can think of many niches which are dominated by sites which were started this way with no budget just the enthusiasm of the creator.
You can decide that you’re going to be aggressive and create twenty Instagram channels to sell a certain product. Or perhaps that you’re going to make a fortune reselling concert tickets using proxies on Ticketmaster. However whatever format you choose, you’re going to have to become an expert in that specific area. This is whole lot easier if you have an interest in it too, whichi can see you through those early non-profit making weeks!
The beauty of the digital economy is that to some extent it’s pretty much open to anyone. You don’t need a degree, you don’t need lots of cash and it doesn’t really matter where you’re from or what your background is. Admittedly if you’re really poor with technology things might take you a little longer although many really successful marketers online are truly hopeless with technology (but they just pay people to fix stuff). Also there are certain challenges if you’re based in certain countries where it’s harder to get access to payment processors like PayPal.
Yet these are just all minor hurdles which you can be certain people have crossed successfully before. So if you’re considering a career or want to change from the traditional 9-5 model that traps so many of us – then try out digital marketing. It’s not that hard to get started and it certainly doesn’t require huge financial investment. You can succeed and join those of us who choose where to work and what time we get up in the morning!!
In the famous Sherlock Holmes novel – ” A Study in Scarlet”, one of the clues that helps Holmes solve the mystery was identifying some cigarette ash left at the scene of the crime. Indeed he actually informs Watson in the same book that he has written a monograph of cigarette ash. The incriminating ash belonged to something called a Trichinopoly cigar from Tiruchirappalli in India. However in today’s world I suspect Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t need to bother with such detailed research as criminals seem to spend a lot of their time posting them up on social media.
Take for example the recent case in South Wales, where a large drugs gang where caught primarily not because they were smoking Indian cheroots, but because of the incriminating evidence they placed online themselves. It sounds stupid, but it’s true – here’s the photo which led to the arrest of the gang.
The photo was posted to a WhatsApp group, and before you start worrying about the police monitoring all these groups – it turns out it was actually retrieved from the mobile phone itself. This criminal mastermind had taken a photo, of his drugs for sale posted it to a WhatsApp group and then failed to delete or remove the photo from his phone.
It was subsequently seized by the police in a later unrelated arrest and passed on to the police forensics team. They discovered lots of drug related deals and messages, plus crucially this photo which was to lead to the arrest of other members of the gang.
From the picture, the police analysed the partial fingerprint which was enough to match to another known suspect. From this the police were able to trace other members including bitcoin deposits of over £20,000 in several dealers accounts. I suspect if Sherlock Holmes were involved he’d probably have solved the whole lot using a fast broadband connection in Baker Street!
It illustrates several things, including perhaps the IQ levels of some South Wales based criminals! One of the points worth remembering for those who do value their privacy is that although messaging applications like WhatsApp offer end to end encryption, that’s not the whole issue. There are lots of ways to hide the transmission including the applications security plus layering on encryption using a VPN with a residential IP. However secure a messaging system is regarding transit and delivery, it’s normally very difficult to apply that security to the end devices. If anyone has access to the device that was used to send or receive the message, whether it’s phone, tablet or PC, then it’s usually fairly simple to access it.
Of course, the ground breaking element of this case is using a partial photograph to provide fingerprint evidence. It would seem that there’s huge potential here to identify and solve all sorts of crimes using social media images and related records. How many incriminating images are posted on Facebook and Instagram daily for example, I’m certain plenty if you knew where to look.