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"

Related Stories

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.


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 1334.

    @ 1274

    Social media is already effectively censored, as seen by the guy who was jailed for his April Jones joke and the guy who made the joke about blowing up an airport.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1333.

    @ 1273 "How can any right minded person attack a positive block on child pornography"

    That is exactly the reason Davey-boy has confused the issues of child abuse and censorship. It's not about protecting children but increasing state power and ignorance of the public. But you don't want to support child abuse so you'll happily go along with it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1332.

    I think if you add up everyone who is against government censorship and everyone who watches porn, you end up with DC being voted out in 2015.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1331.

    This is nothing to do with protecting children. This is about government control over people and making sure what GCHQ has already been doing will be legalised.

    This is the same as the Patriot Act. If you say it's about protect children then how can people vote against it?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1330.

    Prohibition doesn't work, with alcohol, with drugs and now this. Why can we not try educating people instead of treating everyone like sheep. There will always be bad people in the world, we need to teach our kids to behave well, not hide them from the truths of the world that someone else says they don't like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1329.

    Yea, why not, because us Brits aren't seen as prudish at all....

    Anyway, this is more about censorship than porn. And how much they can stuff down our throats before we're sick...

  • rate this

    Comment number 1328.

    This is clearly just an excuse to further control the internet. No form of pornography can ever be "stamped out" unless you have total government control of every aspect of the internet and everything you view.
    Unfortunately this is what we are edging, slowly but surely, towards. I can't believe so many are apathetic on this. Once we lose freedoms, its almost impossible to get them back!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1327.

    Oh my Goodness, proof if needed that Cameron is indeed utterly clueless about the Internet and how it works, who is advising him?
    I can't believe someone like is is running the country. He has no idea does he? He should be more concern with the scum carrying out these crimes. I'm sorry, but whata moron.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1326.

    Interesting R4 article a few months ago. Icelandic MP discussing moves to make porn illegal in Iceland - requires porn to be legally defined (not subjective UK offensive material waffle). Icelandic view was that all porn should be illegal, but consented intercourse would not be illegal. The legal definition incl anything with children, animals or non-consensual. Refreshingly simple & pragmatic

  • Comment number 1325.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 1324.

    Only 40% of parents have used a family filter (according to Ms Perry). Arew se supposed to think 60% of British parents have nevr heard of these filters?
    That is the only excuse the government can have for this legislation. Parents are CHOOSING not to put family filters on device used by their children. But Cameron know better...s

  • rate this

    Comment number 1323.

    I already have site-advisor loaded.

    Does Dave think I'm too irresponsible to use it?

    I'm afraid Dave needs the Daily Mail more that the Daily Mail needs Dave at this moment in time!

    More eroding of our freedom and liberty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1322.

    Mr Cameron has finally given in to the mums who don't know how to switch on a computer...

    Isn't this a coincidence that it is posted just after the news of a Royal Baby? Because you know, I'll be much more interested in a baby than my freedom of information for the rest of my life.

    To claim you are "leading the way" in internet censorship is not a good thing, it's authoritarian and immoral.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1321.

    1219.timmi3 I do not understand what your post is about. Are you suggesting that the UK should also have a written constitution guaranteeing basic freedoms and rights too?
    Given that May and Co want out of all the European treaties that convey rights, I cannot see the current coalition voting to enshrine liberties and rights in writing anytime soon (unless Dave sees some votes in it).

  • rate this

    Comment number 1320.

    The truth is, if you like viewing rape, you have an issue that needs properly addressing.


    Rape is the most common sexual fantasy for women. Guess we should put them all in a psychiatric facility?

  • rate this

    Comment number 1319.

    I wonder how many times a page the Daily Mail would insert, 'Mr xyz opted-out of internet filtering', in to any article no matter how irrelevant it is. Whilst at the same time littering its online site with 'stories' about the size of Britney Spears knockers or the amount of cellulite on Beyonces backside revealed by the photographer they paid to lay in the gutter to get up-skirt shots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1318.

    And this is the guy that said if you don't like Page 3, you should just ignore it.
    Bit hypocritical.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1317.

    "Do you wish to opt out, and be accused of being a pervert?"

    Perverts' urges will not be stopped by this. Do rapists stop being rapists because its classed as a crime?

    "Do you wish to opt in and protect your children, as responsible parents ought?"


  • rate this

    Comment number 1316.

    One good thing to come out of all this will be a list of Tory Politicians opting for porn access, which when leaked will shine a bright light on these Big Brother Hypocrites!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1315.

    Fantastic way for the Conservatives to lose the youth vote!


Page 29 of 95


More Politics stories



  • A very clever little girlBrain gain

    Why are people getting better at intelligence tests?

  • BeefaloBeefalo hunt

    The hybrid animal causing havoc in the Grand Canyon

  • A British Rail signBringing back BR

    Would it be realistic to renationalise the railways?

  • Banksy image of girl letting go of heart-shaped balloonFrom the heart

    Fergal Keane on the relationship between love and politics

  • Don Roberto Placa Quiet Don

    The world's worst interview - with one of the loneliest men on Earth

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.