National Edition

England aims to curtail online porn via new protections, restrictions

Published: Monday, July 22 2013 6:00 a.m. MDT

All Internet users in the United Kingdom will soon have to “opt in” in order to access online pornography, according to a speech British Prime Minister David Cameron delivered Monday.

The new measures, which also contain provisions granting British police greater purview to crack down on the most offensive types of pornography, are slated to be fully implemented by the end of 2014.

“Every home in the UK is to have pornography blocked by their Internet provider unless the householder chooses to receive it,” Oliver Wright reported for The Independent. “Warning that access to online pornography is ‘corroding childhood’ the Prime Minister said that by the end of next year millions of households will be contacted by their internet providers and told they must decide whether to activate ‘family friendly filters’ to restrict adult material. Customers who do not click on either option — accepting or declining — will have filters activated by default.”

The British publication Daily Mail, which has been aggressively campaigning for just this sort of “default on” approach to combat online pornography, lauded the remarks Cameron delivered Monday at the London-based National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

“In his landmark speech at the NSPCC, Mr. Cameron said action is more urgent than ever because web access has ‘changed profoundly’ in recent years,” James Chapman and Matt Chorley wrote for the Daily Mail.

The Daily Mail article quoted Cameron as saying, “Not long ago, access to the internet was mainly restricted to the PC in the corner of the living room, with a beeping dial-up modem, downstairs in the house where parents could keep an eye on things. … I’m not making this speech because I want to moralize or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence.”

As Tom Meltzer reported for The Guardian, the greatest resistance to Cameron’s “default on” reform is coming from Internet Service Providers: “The ISPs make three arguments against default-on. First, that it encourages parents to be complacent about their children's Internet use. Second, that filters are imperfect. Third, that children are smart enough to find their way around filters anyway.”

The Guardian also reported about other aspects of Cameron’s new initiative that extend beyond in-home Internet filters:

  • The possession of “extreme pornography,” which includes scenes of simulated rape, is to be outlawed.
  • The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) is to draw up a blacklist of “abhorrent” internet search terms to identify and prevent pedophiles searching for illegal material.
  • All police forces will work with a single secure database of illegal images of children to help “close the net on pedophiles.”
“A joint British and American ‘task force’ will be created to tackle obscene websites,” Tim Ross wrote for The Telegraph.

EMAIL: jaskar@desnews.com

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