Internet porn: Automatic block rejected

 
A young girl browses the internet Campaigners say it is too easy for children to access explicit adult content

Related Stories

Ministers have rejected plans to automatically block internet access to pornography on all computers, saying the move is not widely supported.

A public consultation found 35% of parents wanted an automatic bar while 15% wanted some content filtered, and an option to block other material.

But the government says internet providers should encourage parents to switch on parental controls.

Claire Perry, the MP who led the campaign, said she was "disappointed".

The NSPCC said parents' voices were not being heard.

There were more than 3,500 responses to the 10-week consultation - which included those from members of the public, academics, charities and communication firms as well as 757 from parents.

Respondents were asked to answer "yes", "no" or "maybe" to three separate questions about how internet service providers (ISP) could play a role in limiting access.

An automatic block would mean users would have to actively request that pornographic content was made available by their ISP.

Mrs Perry, the Conservative MP for Devizes in Wiltshire, led the campaign and handed over a petition to Downing Street containing more than 115,000 names.

She chaired the cross-party Independent Parliamentary Inquiry on Online Child Protection which concluded in April that government and ISPs needed to do more to keep children safe online.

She told BBC News she was "obviously disappointed that the opt-in option has been rejected" but she added: "Clearly that was not the preferred choice of the 3,500 people who responded to the consultation and we have to base policy on what's been received not what we want."

'Sea change'

She said she was pleased internet service providers would have to actively encourage and prompt parents to switch on filters which will block adult sites to children and verify the age of the person setting up the controls.

She said the exercise had helped to obtain a "sea change in attitude" from ISPs.

The report said there was "no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP - only 35% of the parents who responded favoured that approach".

Start Quote

There is also a risk from 'over-blocking' - preventing access to websites which provide helpful information on sexual health or sexual identity”

End Quote Government's report

Some 13% said they favoured "a system where you are automatically asked some questions about what you want your children to be able to access".

And 15% answered "yes" to a system that combined the previous two approaches where some harmful content, such as pornography, was automatically blocked but parents were also asked about what other content their children could access.

The NSPCC said the figures showed that half of the parents who took part in the consultation wanted some sort of automatic block on online pornography.

But the report said an automatic ban - or "opt-in" - approach could lead parents into a "false sense of security" because it could not filter "all potentially harmful content".

'Over-blocking' risk

It also did not "deal with harms such as bullying, personal abuse, grooming or sexual exploitation which arise from the behaviour of other internet users".

Start Quote

Hardcore pornographic videos are just a few clicks away and a quarter of children have been sent unsolicited sexual material online”

End Quote NSPCC

It added: "There is also a risk from 'over-blocking' - preventing access to websites which provide helpful information on sexual health or sexual identity, issues which young people may want information on but find difficult to talk to their parents about."

About 70% of the 78 voluntary and community sector organisations that responded answered "yes" to an automatic block while a strong majority of respondents from all other groups answered "no".

While a large majority of the 77 information and communication businesses questioned were against all forms of control, they gave most support (about 18%) to the second approach, in which parents decide what they want their children to access on the internet.

The report found that, taking respondents as a whole, the majority were against all forms of control with more than 80% answering no to each of the three questions.

It praised the the four main ISPs - BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky - for signing up to a code of practice, offering customers a choice of whether to apply filters, but said providers should go further and actively encourage parents to turn them on.

'Right direction'

The NSPCC said that while the government's response was "a step in the right direction in making the internet safer for children" it was "disappointing" it had not gone further.

"The best option to protect children is for adult content to be automatically blocked by internet service providers," head of corporate affairs Alan Wardle said.

"Hardcore pornographic videos are just a few clicks away and a quarter of children have been sent unsolicited sexual material online."

He said it was vital new measures were rolled out to new and existing customers "quickly".

Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch, which is opposed to default filtering, said: "This is a positive step that strikes the right balance between child safety and parental responsibility without infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech.

"The policy recognises it is parents, not government, who are responsible for controlling what their children see online and rightly avoids any kind of state-mandated blocking of legal content."

 

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
 
  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 566.

    To be honest, home-based controls are more reliable than externally based ones anyway. Simply approaching a site through a proxy can override a lot of protections from the ISP-end, but checking the site address after the packets start arriving is a lot harder to end-run.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 565.

    More mental nanny-state ideas. There are worse things your children could be exposed to in the 'real' world; notably religion and violence. Now be sensible and supervise your kids properly. The government needs to butt out of peoples lives. The internet is the last bastion of information where people can get a full unbiased perspective lets not ruin it, please!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 564.

    ISP's will give a password, but children are more savvy about computers than parents may be, they will know how to circumvent any control systems that their gaurdians think they have emplaced. So there should be a system that teach parents how to control access.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 563.

    As someone who knows his way around the net, blocking Internet sites shouldn't even be given any serious thought. It doesn't take an expert to search google/youtube for "getting round parental controls" and get around anything put in place. You'd have to bring the whole website down to successfully block it. Foreign proxies would be the easiest and most effective way round it.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 562.

    Why can't these sites have a built in option so that if you want to trawl it, you have to register?
    But basically I agree, parents are the only ones with the responsibility for making sure that their computer cannot have access to these sites. Easy to do. If the parents cannot be bothered, then they should not be parents!

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 561.

    sorry i meant @530

    ive got a good idea.
    lets ban all motor vehicles !
    dont be ridiculous i hear you say
    but well if parents cant stop children from running in the road and getting killed by cars surely the best way to protect all of us is for the state to ban the vehicles ,
    for our protection and because they know best

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 560.

    @554 giovanna

    "543. Dr Bob Matthews "I then resorted to some quite intensive scipting which disconnected the router should any attempt be made to circument the safeguards" "

    That was a hard way of doing it.

    I agree!

    Dont boast about being clever if you do so by showing your ignorance.

  • Comment number 559.

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

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 558.

    After the Saville revelations and subsequent findings that paedophilia/child grooming and sexual offences/rape are ingrained flaws in society; can there be any doubt that there are are a lot of sexual perverts out there? Isnt it likely that, although most voyeurs might enjoy porn without being affected by it or simply need it as a sex aid, some sad wierdos will stimulated to go out and offend?

  • rate this
    -5

    Comment number 557.

    I want the government to mandate free always-on Internet on landlines. We have e-government but not all of us are e-citizens: that's wrong. If we all had free access to .uk domains gov, police, nhs, sch, ac we could have walled-garden Internet which could be guaranteed safe. Those of us who want access to the imposssible-to-censor public global Internet should pay for it as a product.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 556.

    544 WolfiePeters

    Exactly - the only way to be sure is to jeep an eye open yourself. You can't(shouldn't?) rely upon others to do it for you.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 555.

    @540

    Oh, I agree, the Church is far from the only concern about Paedophilia, but it is certainly one of the more high-profile cases. The person I was replying to was likening people who watched porn to Jimmy Saville, I was pointing out that such a comparison is a pretty shallow and inaccurate attempt at an insult.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 554.

    543. Dr Bob Matthews "I then resorted to some quite intensive scipting which disconnected the router should any attempt be made to circument the safeguards"

    That was a hard way of doing it. All you have to do is set the router up properly and you can control what individual computers can do. That way, children can browse safely and parents on the laptop can do as they please.

  • rate this
    +66

    Comment number 553.

    Oh please not another attempt to tell us what to do. It is the parents responsibility to ensure that their children are safe from all dangers, not just the internet.

  • Comment number 552.

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

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 551.

    Could it not be that parents aren't keen to have the ISP's block porn access completely as they themselves still want to see it? It's not just teenagers who like porn!

  • Comment number 550.

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

  • rate this
    +11

    Comment number 549.

    If you don't want your kids to see unsuitable TV then you don't let them, if you don't want them to hear something in particular discussed you keep it from them, so why does there have to be government interference with the internet? It's quite simple to stop kids seeing unsuitable things on a computer, keep an eye on what they're doing & DON'T LET THEM! Wanting things blocked is LAZY PARENTING!!!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 548.

    England might consider making a walled area specifically for those who insist on as much surveillance and protective controls for everyone else.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 547.

    There is a particular problem in defining what is pornographic.
    Naturists and some others believe that a natural and naked lifestyle is the evolved, healthy and wholesome way to live while artists see beauty in the naked form.
    It becomes impossible for computers and automated systems to differentiate between what is natural and what is exploitative. Accordingly Government cannot blindly intervene.

 

Page 17 of 45

 

More Politics stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 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.