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Prime Minister To Consult On Default Porn Block

Fotolia: Internet pornography concept © Amy Walters #5211782
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David Cameron is to meet with ISPs following an inquiry that recommended introducing stringent measures to block adult content

Prime Minister David Cameron is to consult with Internet service providers (ISPs) over controversial measures to protect children from online adult content.

The move follows a cross-party Parliamentary inquiry last month which backed proposals to introduce Internet filtering by default, effectively obliging Internet subscribers to opt-in if they want access to pornography. Conservative MP Claire Perry, who chaired the inquiry, has said filtering measures should include further provisions such as age checks.

‘Active choice’

Later in April culture secretary Jeremy Hunt and sources from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) were said to have distanced themselves from the proposals, which they reportedly deemed technically infeasible and damaging to civil liberties.

The opt-in proposal is also unpopular with ISPs, which support an “active choice” model which would see users given a “yes” or “no” choice on filtering when they start a broadband contract.

The Prime Minister said the consultation was intended to allow a broad range of possibilities to be explored, but he placed the emphasis on the opt-in model.

“I want to fully explore every option that might help make children safer – including whether internet filters should be switched on as the default, so that adult content is blocked unless you decide otherwise,” Cameron said in a statement.

The consultation is likely to take the form of an independent review of a series of filtering options, according to industry observers.

ISPA response

Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) secretary general Nicholas Lansman said he hoped the consultation would provide a chance to rethink the debate around filtering.

“We welcome the opportunity to discuss the detail of any proposals,” he said in a statement. “It will provide some much needed clarity to the debate and provide an opportunity to re-focus the argument on protecting children from inappropriate content rather than concentrating solely on default filtering.”

The Conservatives’ Perry also welcomed the consultation, arguing it will put more pressure on ISPs, which she has accused of dragging their heels on filtering.

“The fact we have got No. 10 acknowledging the issue is really encouraging,” she told The Guardian.

Shadow culture secretary Harriet Harman said the government should work with the industry to develop more effective blocking technology.

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