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Government won't force ISPs to block porn

porn address

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 14 Dec 2012 at 12:42

The government says it won't force ISPs to filter adult content, despite fervent calls to do so from MPs and pressure from the media.

Last year, the government created a "code of practice" for ISPs, asking them to offer free parental controls to customers. Conservative MP Claire Perry didn't think those measures went far enough and started a campaign to make broadband customers "opt in" to adult content online.

The government ran a consultation into that idea, receiving 3,509 responses - including PC Pro's submission - with two-thirds saying keeping children safe online was entirely the responsibility of parents. The default filtering system was the most popular of the the three mooted blocking solutions, but still only won the support of 14% of respondents.

This combination of parental tools and education will be needed in order to deal with the twin problems of harmful content and harmful online behaviour

Rather than attempt to force ISPs to block adult content, the government said it would ask providers to not only offer parental controls but to "actively encourage" parents to use them.

"The government believes providers should automatically prompt parents to tailor filters to suit their child's needs," the report said, adding it would ask ISPs to ensure the person setting up the controls was actually over 18.

Device controls

The report also calls for parental controls to be extended to all internet-connected devices, calling for industry - including retailers and device makers - to "work to develop universally-available family-friendly internet access which is easy to use".

It added: "The government wants to see all internet enabled devices supplied with the tools to keep children safe as a standard feature." We've asked for clarification about what exactly that will entail.

The government said it "will not prescribe detailed solutions" but expects industry to act upon the report, and to improve education on online security issues. "This combination of parental tools and education will be needed in order to deal with the twin problems of harmful content and harmful online behaviour."

Parents' responses

The report revealed respondents were against all forms of default network-level controls, with more than two-thirds of parents against automatically blocking content on computers or smartphones.

Across all respondents - which included businesses, academics and people who didn't identify themselves - more than 80% disagreed with that plan, and it only won backing from voluntary and community organisations.

Parents did see value in using blocking tools and software, ranking them alongside "active parenting" as the two most useful ways to keep children safe.

While bullying was ranked as the online activity that was most likely to worry children, parents were most worried about controlling access to pornography. Not a single respondent was concerned by gambling, alcohol/drug sites, or online radicalisation - access to which are blocked automatically on smartphones.

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User comments

Common Sense Prevails (at last)

Quote: "...with two-thirds saying keeping children safe online was entirely the responsibility of parents."

So Claire Perry et al, will you now get your noses out of what should be and is PARENT'S responsibility. Not yours. Not the governments.

Read more: Government won't force ISPs to block porn | News | PC Pro http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/378694/government-wont
-force-isps-to-block-porn#ixzz2F6hiljMm

By jontym123 on 15 Dec 2012

Victory.

Yes, it's the parents responsibility. But lots of parents are not responsible, or responsible but not savvy enough to protect their children.
And it is virtually impossible to protect when access is increasingly on mobile devices.

Remember, any action by the government was not going to curtail any adult's access to watch porn, it just added one small way to reduce access by children by introducing an opt-in.

Maybe some people are just a bit shy to make the opt-in call?
Groomers in the UK sent out a small cheer today.

By Robreilly1 on 15 Dec 2012

Delighted for Claire Perry

After her responses to PcPro's sensible questions I have to say that I'm delighted that this has been thrown out. Personal vendetta's aside, let's hope they publish simple clear advice to parents instead

By NR5674 on 15 Dec 2012

Microsoft & Apple

are way ahead of Ms. Perry. They've had parental controls built into the operating system to allow the blocking of unwanted content on children's accounts for years and there have also been a wealth of 3rd party products to do that as well.

Parental education is needed, not new laws.

By big_D on 16 Dec 2012

Routers

Why don't ISP offer an option to buy or when signing up for broadband a pre configured router that blocks porn at the customers home.

I think their would be less of an incentive to introduce legislation to force ISP's to block porn and other unsavory sites, why should government enter the home to decide what is censored, that should be up to the responsible adult to "police" and decide what their children can view.

By Chrisfjr1300 on 16 Dec 2012

@Chris

Why bother with routers? The OS of most computers built since 2002 have it built in.

By big_D on 17 Dec 2012

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