Friday, July 26, 2013

UK planning to restrict access to online porn

The UK plans on restricting porn saying that "the darkest corners of the Internet" pose a real threat to children, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Monday rolled out a plan that would, by default, block pornography on most computers, smartphones and tablets. British wireless and Internet providers have agreed to put adult-content filters on phones, public Wi-Fi networks and home computers in the coming months. By the end of the year, the filters will become the default setting for anyone setting up broadband Internet service at home, Cameron said. "I'm not making this speech because I want to (moralize) or scare-monger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come," Cameron said. "This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence." All of those filters could be deactivated by those who can "prove" they are 18 or older, Cameron said. The plan is the result of a monthslong effort by Cameron to restrict access to Internet porn. He has called Google and other search companies into meetings, demanding they do more to hide porn from children, and appointed Parliament member Claire Perry as a special adviser targeting the issues. The plan will require no action from Parliament because service providers and other Web companies are participating voluntarily. Some already provide service with porn filters as their default settings. Not surprisingly, Web freedom advocates and other critics were quick to decry the plan. For one, many say effective Web filters simply don't exist. "As a technological feat, it would be utterly impossible," columnist Andy Dawson wrote in the Daily Mirror, a nationwide tabloid frequently critical of Cameron's Conservative Party. "His porn shield speech today, and the proposals that are in it are the deranged ravings of someone who has decided that something must be done, has decided what it is, but doesn't (realize) that it isn't actually feasible. He's got just as much chance of banning (gray) clouds while giving us all access to the nice white, fluffy ones." Critics say that automated filtering technology inevitably allows offensive material through accidentally as well as creating "false positives" that block inoffensive content. Others, such as BBC technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones, say default-on filters can create a false sense of security among parents, who could become more lax in monitoring their children's online behavior.