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Confusion reigns as Government announces porn ban

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By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 11 Oct 2011 at 09:10

Updated at 11:10am Huge confusion surrounds a Government announcement that Britain's four biggest ISPs will be blocking adult content.

BT, Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk have all agreed to put blocks on porn reaching consumers, according to various reports in the national press, with several reports suggesting that consumers will be forced to opt-in if they want to view adult content.

Those reports have been dismissed by the ISPs, who claim customers will be asked to make a choice over whether they want filtering on their connection or not. Adult content blocks will not be implemented by default.

The ISPs will use a variety of a measures to attempt to prevent children from accessing inappropriate content. Some will offer network-level filtering, which prevents any computer or device on the home network from accessing adult content; others will use PC-based software that doesn't protect smartphones or tablets connected to the home Wi-Fi.

While there has been a swelling tide of conservatism in recent months, with MP Claire Perry and the Bailey Report seeking further protection for children, campaigners believe the plans could stray into censorship and warn the industry must guard against heavy-handedness.

ISPs need to keep this to child safety and if it presented as that, then it may be quite acceptable, but if the Government is pushing it as an option to turn porn on or off then that is a completely different discussion

"There is a world of difference between offering sensible child safety, and trying to persuade adults to live with layers of censorship,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.

"The devil is therefore in the detail, and how 'options' are presented. Will adults be asked if they need parental controls, or if they want to switch adult content on? We will oppose anything designed to induce adults to live with censorware, which would inevitably deny them access to commentary, health and medical advice."

PC Pro has been told that the Government plans would involve only new subscribers being offered parental controls when they are connected, which would be acceptable to campaigners, but there are fears the plans could involve retrospective options, too.

“If it turns out to be more like adults being asked if they want to turn porn on, then that's very different,” Killock said. “You are asking people to opt in to censorship, and how does one adult in a house decide what's right for others – suddenly people can't access legitimate contents about issues such as health, sexuality and whatever else it's decided should be censored.

“ISPs need to keep this to child safety and if it presented as that, then it may be quite acceptable, but if the Government is pushing it as an option to turn porn on or off then that is a completely different discussion,” Killock said.

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User comments

Yet again everyone gets affected because people don't/won't look after their own rugrats.

By ruebroad on 11 Oct 2011

Blanket censorship introduced "for our own good"

If parents are too idle or too stupid to use one of the many free and purchasable net filter options, I don't see why the state should force ISP's to censor the internet at a cost of the rest us!
This is a slippery slope. I hardly feel safe letting the state decide anything for me, since politicians are so easily bought by corporate interests to further their own goals.

By cheysuli on 11 Oct 2011

"Won't somebody please think of the children?"

Being from the first generation to grow up with the internet, when most parents didn't even know it existed, let alone that you could access porn through it, i can safely say this is a complete waste of time.
A large proportion of my peers had access to the unrestricted internet through their childhood, and now approaching 30 i haven't seen any mass degradation of society due to this open ended access, let’s face it, before the internet came about teenagers found other ways of getting hold of "dirty" material. Couple with that the ease with which these systems can be bypassed, and we have yet another technology policy based on ignorance and over reactions.

By Mccers on 11 Oct 2011

Careful!

All sensible and reasonable comments. So beware the PC Thought Police! Couldn't persuade any of you to become MPs at all? We desperately seem to need politicians with common sense!

By incognitii on 11 Oct 2011

Saw a comment on the news today where a reporter genuinely said "This could lead to a sticky situation for ISP's...."

I bet Martin Clunes laughed.

By CraigieDD on 11 Oct 2011

The Return of Hedge Porn?

Taking parental control out of the control of parents is not a good idea, no matter what one thinks of a return to those halcyon days of hedge porn.

By Mark_Thompson on 11 Oct 2011

free kid friendly internet

I have young kids and got worried about exposure to porn from one wrong click too many. Even with safe searching, google quickly wanders. I spent ages looking for a way to safely filter the internet and in the end found a free easy way.
OpenDNS routed all traffic through their DNS servers and you can choose what to block. I found that its 99% efficient, and use it in conjunction with Kaspersky internet security correctly setup. Together they block. The everything.
The only drawback is we use BT broadband and their router does not support hardware DNS filtering using open DNS, so if they were old enough for smart phones they could get access that way unless I changed or daisy chained router/switch.
The way I figure it when they get old enough to be motivated to circumvent security measures then their probably teenagers anyway.

I would highly recommend parents using (feee) openDNS it just takes a few minutes to setup, leaving all internet options as automatic except for changing for their DNS server numbers.

By zx81zx on 11 Oct 2011

link

http://www.opendns.com/

It would actually be worth reviewing them as this is a topical subject.
I am not affiliated in any way, and incidentally none of my peers knew how to restrict access. I got worried when I found them googling supermario and getting some racist stuff on you tube, bit of a wake up call for us.

By zx81zx on 11 Oct 2011

finally

finally, also by electing to do this its an (responsible) opt in to in-house family censorship rather than blanket ban, which is not only preferable but also more controllable. You wouldn't let your young kids watch adult tv programming but you wouldn't prevent its being broadcast, would you?

By zx81zx on 11 Oct 2011

https://dns.norton.com

also check out
https://dns.norton.com/dnsweb/homePage.do

similar DNS based filtering, offers 3 levels

By martindaler on 13 Oct 2011

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