Porn Clampdown By Government Questioned

CensorshipGovernement-ITLegalProjectsRegulationSecuritySecurity ManagementService Providers
1 0 1 Comment

Plan to stop kids accessing smut ignores the fact that most porn websites are hosted outside the UK

The government’s efforts to tackle online pornography have changed again with the confirmation it is to introduce age verification mechanisms to halt kids from accessing pornographic websites.

And the government warned that it is prepared to legislate to do so if the industry fails to self regulate.

Changed Approach

The Government had initially planned to block access to online pornography by default after Prime Minister David Cameron announced back in July 2013 that ISPs needed to introduce an opt-in system for customers wishing to see explicit content.

That proposal sparked criticism from libertarians about the issue of internet censorship, and the government later tweaked the rules to the adult content filter system as it unintentionally blocked educational resources such as sexual health websites.

A number of major ISPs in the UK, such as Sky and TalkTalk did implement the automatic porn automatic block for their service. But many ISPs opted not to implement the default block.

The government’s default porn block was also likely to face a European challenge. Therefore following the Conservative election victory in May, it pledged instead to institute a more “effective” online age control mechanism to keep children from viewing pornography.

And this week the government has confirmed that age verification mechanisms should be implemented to restrict under 18s’ access to pornographic websites.

kids-pornography-internet-censorship“The Prime Minister is determined to introduce age verification mechanisms to restrict under 18s’ access to pornographic websites and is prepared to legislate to do so if the industry fails to self regulate,” said the government.

It said it would launch a consultation in the autumn, to seek views on how best to introduce the measures. The industry will consulted on the best approach, and the consultation will also consider the best form of legislation should voluntary agreements not work.

“Our one nation government is working hard to make the internet a safer place for children, the next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content which is currently far too widely available,” said Prime Minister David Cameron. “I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down.”

Foreign Porn

But the government intentions do not address the fact that a large portion of porn websites are hosted aboard, outside the control of the British government.

Pornhub for example, one of the largest pornographic websites in the world, is headquartered in Canada. This point was made by rights campaigners such as the Open Rights Group, in response to the government scheme.

“While the government can shut down UK-based sites, these are few in number and represent a tiny proportion of the global porn industry,” explained executive director, Jim Killock. “Cameron needs to clarify how he wishes to achieve his goals, given that most porn sites are hosted abroad. To block them, the government would have to introduce a national firewall, which would censor sites for everyone, and would likely be widely circumvented.

“While we understand the government’s concern about children accessing pornography, there are no simple tech solutions,” Killock added. “We need to make sure that children are being educated by their parents and schools in how to navigate the web safely.”

What do you know about Internet censorship? Take our quiz!


Author: Tom Jowitt
Click to read the authors bio  Click to hide the authors bio