Pornography to be 'opt in' in UK -- do you agree with the move?
Yesterday my colleague Mark Wilson wrote an excellent article discussing online pornography and the problems of policing it. This came in the wake of UK Prime Minister David Cameron calling for internet companies to do more to block porn on the web.
Today, Cameron announces that every British household will have pornography automatically blocked by their internet provider, although customers can choose to switch off the "family friendly" filters if they so choose.
Violent pornography depicting rape will become illegal in England and Wales (it is already illegal in Scotland). Search engines will also have to introduce measures to prevent access to illegal content, with warnings popping up when anyone from within the UK tries to search for such material. Cameron suggests these warnings should tell searchers they run the risk of "losing their job, their family, even access to their children", by trying to view this content.
According to Cameron, "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". Which is interesting, as I feel profoundly as a citizen, and as a father, that the government should stay out of areas where it has no business being and leave parenting to the parents.
Giving mothers and fathers an easy way of blocking access to pornography is as far as things need to go. Blocking porn for all, and forcing people who want to view such material to opt in, is wrong. There are plenty of single men and women out there without children -- why should they have to expressly tell their ISPs they enjoy pornography? An act that will, naturally, see them added to a "list". And will the ISPs send out confirmation letters or emails once the filters have been turned off? That will result in more than a few awkward conversations between husbands and wives I’ll bet.
I’m all for protecting children from the darker aspects of the internet, and appreciate there are plenty of parents who wouldn’t have the first clue how to limit access to pornography, and/or have no idea at all what their children get up to online -- but there are better ways to tackle the problem of pornography than a total ban.
Of course ISPs will only block access to porn sites, downloaders will still be able to get their fix via other methods won’t they? I mean, who pays for porn anyway? Ah, but in the UK ISPs already block access to a growing number of "copyright infringing" sites like the Pirate Bay, so that already reduces the options...
I'd be interested to know what you think about this new development, so here's a quick poll.