Online pornography to be blocked by default, PM announces


David Cameron: "In the balance between freedom and responsibility we have neglected our responsibility to children"

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Most households in the UK will have pornography blocked by their internet provider unless they choose to receive it, David Cameron has announced.

In addition, the prime minister said possessing online pornography depicting rape would become illegal in England and Wales - in line with Scotland.

Mr Cameron warned in a speech that access to online pornography was "corroding childhood".

The new measures will apply to both existing and new customers.


Seven years ago David Cameron told a Google conference that politicians should encourage companies to change, not over-regulate them.

Today, he announced he had reached agreement with the four biggest ISPs on pornography filters, after some behind the scenes tussling.

But he hinted that if search engines like Google didn't agree to a blacklist of search terms, he would legislate.

From Downing St, he can supplement the art of persuasion with the smack of firm government.

Back in his opposition days, Cameron made waves presenting himself as a man on the side of parents against firms that sold chocolates at checkouts and children's bikinis.

If he can mould a similar image in Downing St, as a PM doing battle with big business on behalf of fellow parents, he will be more than happy.

Mr Cameron also called for some "horrific" internet search terms to be "blacklisted", meaning they would automatically bring up no results on websites such as Google or Bing.

He told the BBC he expected a "row" with service providers who, he said in his speech, were "not doing enough to take responsibility" despite having a "moral duty" to do so.

He also warned he could have to "force action" by changing the law and that, if there were "technical obstacles", firms should use their "greatest brains" to overcome them.


In his speech, Mr Cameron said family-friendly filters would be automatically selected for all new customers by the end of the year - although they could choose to switch them off.

And millions of existing computer users would be contacted by their internet providers and told they must decide whether to use or not use "family-friendly filters" to restrict adult material.

The filters would apply to all devices linked to the affected home Wi-Fi network and across the public Wi-Fi network "wherever children are likely to be present".

Customers who do not click on either option - accepting or declining - will have filters activated by default, Tory MP Claire Perry, Mr Cameron's adviser on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood, told the BBC.

The UK's biggest internet service providers have agreed to the filters scheme meaning it should cover 95% of homes.

Other measures announced by the prime minister included:

  • New laws so videos streamed online in the UK will be subject to the same restrictions as those sold in shops
  • Search engines having until October to introduce further measures to block illegal content
  • Experts from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre being given more powers to examine secretive file-sharing networks
  • A secure database of banned child pornography images gathered by police across the country will be used to trace illegal content and the paedophiles viewing it

Mr Cameron also called for warning pages to pop up with helpline numbers when people try to search for illegal content.

He said: "I want to talk about the internet, the impact it is having on the innocence of our children, how online pornography is corroding childhood.

"And how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.

Claire Perry MP: "We have asked companies to help families install family friendly filters"

"I'm not making this speech because I want to moralise or scaremonger, but because 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."

But former Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre boss Jim Gamble told BBC Radio 4's Today programme it was important to "get to the root cause" of illegal pornography, by catching those responsible for creating it.

He added: "You need a real deterrent, not a pop-up that paedophiles will laugh at."

But Ms Perry argued filters would make a difference, saying that the killers of schoolgirls April Jones and Tia Sharp had accessed legal pornography before moving on to images of child abuse.

She added: "It's impossible to buy this material in a sex shop... but it's possible to have it served up on a computer every day."

In his speech, Mr Cameron said possession of online pornography depicting rape would be made illegal.

Start Quote

The coalition government has pledged to prevent abuse of women and girls, so tackling a culture that glorifies abuse is critical for achieving this”

End Quote Holly Dustin Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition

Existing legislation only covers publication of pornographic portrayals of rape, as opposed to possession.

"Possession of such material is already an offence in Scotland but because of a loophole in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, it is not an offence south of the border," Mr Cameron said.

"Well I can tell you today we are changing that. We are closing the loophole - making it a criminal offence to possess internet pornography that depicts rape."

The move has been welcomed by women's groups and academics who had campaigned to have "rape porn" banned.

Holly Dustin, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said the group was "delighted".

"The coalition government has pledged to prevent abuse of women and girls, so tackling a culture that glorifies abuse is critical for achieving this," she said.

"The next step is working with experts to ensure careful drafting of the law and proper resourcing to ensure the law is enforced fully."

'No safe place'

Mr Cameron, who has faced criticism from Labour over cuts to Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre's funding, insisted the centre's experts and police would be given the powers needed to keep pace with technological changes on the internet.

Claire Lilley, NSPCC: "In every single child abuse image there is a victim, a child who has been abused"

"Let me be clear to any offender who might think otherwise: there is no such thing as a safe place on the internet to access child abuse material," he said.

A spokesman for Google said: "We have a zero tolerance attitude to child sexual abuse imagery. Whenever we discover it, we respond quickly to remove and report it.

"We recently donated $5m (£3.3m) to help combat this problem and are committed to continuing the dialogue with the government on these issues."

According to some experts, "default on" can create a dangerous sense of complacency, says BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones.

He says internet service providers would dispute Mr Cameron's interpretation of the new measures, insisting they did not want to be seen as censors.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 794.

    716.Tim Putnam
    "End to end encryption Mr Cameron. Your response?"

    Mr Cameron, and his techno-stupid advisors, are now wondering what strange language you are speaking.

    Encryption??? "What's that?". "Dunno. Ban It.". "How?". "Dunno, ban everthing. Got to look after the plebs. Oh, tea time".

  • rate this

    Comment number 793.

    I'm staggered people are naive enough to think the internet was just going to be allowed to continue providing easy access to all forms of pornography. Surely you must have known this time was coming? If you think there's nothing wrong with watching women being choked for pleasure, I guess you have no problems talking about these vids when out with other women? What was that about "incognito"?

  • Comment number 792.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 791.

    I think a PM who talks about morality when he is the head of a society in which TV adverts for money lenders who charge well over a thousand percent per annum are considered acceptable, is a hypocrite.

  • rate this

    Comment number 790.

    I find it very strange that we live in a society where we are told that sex and nudity, the most natural things in the world, are bad and lets's face it you wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 789.

    I'm confused aren't ISP's and mobile phone providers doing this already? I'm positive that I had to have an adult filter removed from my mobile phone, and I'm pretty sure I had to do it for my broadband as well. They block far more than porn, I had mine removed because it was blocking me from seed banks, smoking paraphernalia, magazine websites as well as several small town newspaper websites.

  • rate this

    Comment number 788.

    Hard to believe that it is the Conservative party doing this. The default ISP filter assuming that the connection is for family use is pragmatic all be it Nannying. Telling the search engines which list of words will no longer show up in search results is stupid. All that will happen is that "Breast" Cancer charities will disappear from the web. Wrong Wrong Wrong and disgraceful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 787.

    In other news, TomTom are being urged to stop giving directions to drugs traffickers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 786.


    Do you even know how computers work? Having his own account won't help the fact that his ISP (Internet) bans it from coming to his computer at all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 785.

    We have mobs of people ready to lynch pedophiles whenever they're convicted, but when the government rightly takes preventative measures to tackle the culture of sexual exploitation which fuels sex crime, you're all up in arms because you're worried you won't be able to get your rocks off. If you don't think there's anything wrong with porn, you won't mind checking a box to say so, will you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 784.

    A couple of years ago I signed up for internet access via my mobile phone with a leading phone company. The internet "Adult Filter" was turned on by default. The "Adult Filter" blocked access to the National Lottery website. Are we going to have to turn Dave's filter off to check our lottery results?

  • rate this

    Comment number 783.

    705.Sally the contrarian
    3 Minutes ago
    If 2 adults consent, that doesn't harm me, or them. Many movies depict simulated rape, will Mr Cameron ban Law Abiding Citizen on his puritan crusade?

    Can't the puritans leave us alone, and we'll leave you alone.


    I'll do that by not voting for D Cameron.

    +1 for Sally!

  • rate this

    Comment number 782.

    Sledge hammer to crack a nut? How many internet users in the UK compared to those that purposefully look up nasty images? If anyone wants to watch even light porn then you are being asked to sign onto a 'register', and who will control that? It wreaks of human rights. All parents with kids under 18 should be sent detailed advice of how to bloc sites & images themselves rather than a blanket UK ban

  • rate this

    Comment number 781.

    as far as I can see, the most damaging thing to Britain, it's people and is children has been the bankers and financial expletives that have RUINED LIVES. how about you sort that mess out, David? maybe close a few tax loopholes and chase some owed tax? maybe there would be more children with access to a better standard of living - maybe people will feel connected to and invested in society

  • rate this

    Comment number 780.

    Cameron, I have been taking responsibility for my internet use for 20yr, I don't need you to give me permission to do that. There are far worse problems damaging childrens lives than the looking at porn myth, how about the bedroom tax reality, displacing families and livelihoods. Cameron's Regime, just another dictator, one man deciding for millions!

  • rate this

    Comment number 779.

    So you put the porn filter on and you cant access Waitrose, because it uses cream pie a porn terms on its web site, you cant access the estate agent because it uses cottage a porn term on its web site, this posting might even get blocked because of the terms used.The filters do work like this, a railway heritage site was blocked for using the term hot box which refers to a damaged bearing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 778.

    @ 752

  • rate this

    Comment number 777.

    I grew up in a South African society on the 70's 80's where state censorship decreed all printed female nipples should be covered by stars, in a theocracy where to think sexually was deemed a sin. So now we face a creeping withdrawal to prudish State control of the basic human sexual instinct. Soon it will be decreed we all begin to attend church and repent for looking at naked adults.

  • rate this

    Comment number 776.

    Everyone should just opt out of these filters, its the best way to stick two fingers up at this ridiculous Big Brother policy.

  • Comment number 775.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


Page 56 of 95


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