Web

Google opposes UK web porn opt-in scheme, attacked for being motivated by ad revenue

google-censored-censorship-sopaAt the beginning of the month, the UK government unveiled a plan to force Internet users to “opt-in” with their ISPs to view pornographic material on their computers. It was the latest in a string of measures designed to make the web a safer and easier-to-police environment, this time under the guise of protecting children by making it impossible to view explicit material online.

The scheme gained support from MPs, groups related to parenting and if you’re inclined to believe government statistics (page 12 of the linked questionnaire), 36-percent of surveyed individuals too.

Now, Google has added its voice to the debate, but has called the scheme a “mistake,” and would prefer to see parents educated on the situation instead of a drastic technical solution.

Speaking at Google’s Big Tent conference held at The Grove Hotel in the UK, Google’s head of public policy, Sarah Hunter, said an ISP filter would “deskill” parents and give them a “false sense of security.”

Google’s statement has seen it side with other dissenters including the Open Rights Group and the London School of Economics.

While it’s good to hear Google comment on potential government-imposed censorship, and thankfully side with those against it, the question of bias on its part has subsequently been raised.

Google ads

As we all know, Google makes money through advertising, and it does allow AdWords adverts to be served alongside search results for adult content. In fact, although it pains me to state the source, the Daily Mail (a publication which supports the adoption of a porn filter) says an ad linked to the keyword “porn” costs £8000 a day.

So could Google’s statement be driven by an interest to maintain advertising revenue, over a desire to keep the web as censorship-free as possible?

Before deciding if bias is involved, it’s worth knowing the facts the Daily Mail left out, as although ads in search results can be linked to adult content, it’s banned from AdSense. Google also offers SafeSearch to filter out explicit content, a feature that can be password controlled and extended to YouTube and mobile phones.

So yes, Google probably sees a decent income from its unfiltered search page ads, but it certainly won’t be the first port of call for pornographers keen to place ads on their sites, backing up Sarah Hunter’s claim that Google “doesn’t go out of its way to make money from pornography.”

Impossible to filter content effectively

Perhaps the real reason why these efforts are being glossed over is because it adds weight to the argument that filtering content effectively is almost impossible.

A quick look at webmasterworld.com reveals at least 350 threads with questions related to Google’s AdSense policy on what is classified as adult or mature content, many of which come from health and educational sites trying to avoid being banned.

If Google, who can safely be considered particularly knowledgeable in the ways of the web, finds it difficult to separate so-called harmful material from the non-harmful, what chance has the UK government’s anti-porn filter got?

Mobile

You can now listen to Google Podcasts on your desktop without the app

The Google Podcasts app is no longer entirely necessary to listen to the podcasts it offers. With a simple tweak of the sharing URL, you can listen to a Google Podcasts podcast on your desktop or laptop without the app.
Mobile

Google Fi: Phones, plans, pricing, perks, and more explained

Google's wireless service, formerly Project Fi, now goes by the name of Google Fi, and it's now compatible with a majority of Android phones, as well as iPhones. Here's everything you need to know about Google Fi.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.
Gaming

Nintendo Switch controllers will soon be compatible with Google Chrome

Nintendo Switch controllers will soon be supported by Google Chrome, according to a new commit spotted by 9to5Google. The code is likely related to Google's Project Stream game streaming service.
Computing

Edit, sign, append, and save with six of the best PDF editors

Though there are plenty of PDF editors to be had online, finding a solution with the tools you need can be tough. Here are the best PDF editors for your editing needs, no matter your budget or operating system.
Computing

Firefox 66 is here and it will soon block irritating autoplay videos

Do web advertisements have you frustrated? Mozilla is here to help. The latest version of the browser will soon block autoplaying videos by default and will also help make web page scrolling smoother.
Business

Patreon is having another go at changing the way it charges creators

Patreon messed up pretty badly the last time it tried to change its payment system. Now it's having another go, though this time the changes mainly affect future sign-ups rather than its current community of creators.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the Final Four online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. But with so many subreddits to choose from, exploring them can be overwhelming. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Computing

Confused about RSS? Don't be. Here's what it is and how to use it

What is an RSS feed, anyway? This traditional method of following online news is still plenty useful. Let's take a look at what RSS means, and what advantages it has in today's busy world.
Computing

Don’t be fooled! Study exposes most popular phishing email subject lines

Phishing emails are on the rise and a new study out by the cybersecurity company Barracuda has exposed some of the most common phishing email subject lines used to exploit businesses. 
Web

How much!? British Airways glitch results in $4.2M quote for family vacation

Website errors sometimes cause flight prices to display at way below the correct price. But British Airways recently experienced the opposite issue when it tried to charge a family more than $4 million for a vacation in Mexico.
Computing

Want to save a webpage as a PDF? Just follow these steps

Need to quickly save and share a webpage? The best way is to learn how to save a webpage as a PDF file, as they're fully featured and can handle images and text with ease. Here's how.