The Prime Minister David Cameron, today announced in a speech plans to introduce measures for online pornography to be blocked by ISPs unless the homeowner opts out of the filter and wants to receive it.
The Prime Ministers plan, outlined in his speech, placed focus on the removing people under the age of 18's ability to view pornographic items online, whilst also looking to put an end to illegal pornographic images online, the PM also stated that "online pornography is corroding childhood" whilst going on to mention that "there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out".
The first challenge, the “criminal challenge” is the proliferation of child abuse images online and the PM goes on to mention that he wants search engines such as Google and Bing to step up and take responsibility, saying that whilst they remove content when notified by the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) the fact that they help to identify the material based on search terms they should take the step to put in place warning sings informing the searcher of the illegality, whilst placing more responsibility on finding these sites and blocking them.
The second challenge, the “cultural challenge” is that of the ability and ease of children accessing pornographic material online, for this the PM has been in indirect contact with ISPs negotiating the use of filters which have been decided as the best choice, whilst stating that “by the end of this year, when someone sets up a new broadband account the settings to install family friendly filters will be automatically selected” with customers who currently have an internet connection the ISPs will be contacting the owner to ask the question. These filters are being installed at ISP level which means any device connected to your home router will be affected by the filter. The Prime Minister then went on to speak about improvements in educating children on the dangers of the internet, how to stay safe and behave online, whilst also speaking about the need to educate parents as well.
The speech has attracted criticism from the Open Rights Group who say that David Cameron’s statements “constitute misleading and dangerous advice to parents” stating that the technology planned places “too much faith in technical tools that have historically proved flawed in achieving their goals”.
They also mention filtering has been easily bypassed in the past and that in some cases simply changing to a secure version of the website can often bypass the filtering in place.
In perspective you don’t have to look far for news reports that ISP filtering has caused collateral damage, only recently news of the Australian Government managing to take down 1,200 sites when the intended number was just 2 makes me wonder who will be responsible for the filter here in the UK and what unintended effects as well as consequences might just occur and just where the filtering may stop.