UK ISPs Already Sticking it to Porn Viewers, More Filtering is About to Come
June 17, 2013 5:20 PM
Customers will have to "opt in" to view adult content
It appears after
much thrusting back and forth by critics and advocates
, the UK's
controversial plan to censor pornographic content
on the internet will reach its climax by the end of this year. Parliament member Claire Perry, who serves as Prime Minister David Cameron's special advisor on preventing the sexualization and commercialization of childhood, inserted a large plug for the program into her speech at the Westminster eForum on 14 June.
I. Protecting Children or Giving Customers the Shaft?
, "[In the UK] we will have filters where if you do nothing, the parental filters will come pre-ticked."
Under pressure from lawmakers
, local ISPs have been convinced to abide by the legislation. The ISPs are now cooperating to thrust the new
into the public space. One small gasp of relief for consumers -- the final policy (to enforce a forced opt-in) isn't quite as hard to swallow as the original rumored proposal, which would have been to ban adult content altogether,
similar to China's Great Firewall
UK ISPs are giving a stern spanking to adult content. [Image Source: Photo Library]
TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC (
) was one of the first to shackle customers to the new policy, forcing new customers to agree to an opt-in form in 2012. This year it required its grandfathered accounts to similarly opt-in. TalkTalk's Head of Public Affairs Alexandra Birtles estimates a third of customers have said yes to explicit content.
Conservative Party MP Claire Perry [Source: BBC News]
The ISP is probing user reactions to new changes, such as email notifications of when privacy settings are changed (to prevent unauthorized changes from underage users) or time-dependent settings. She describes the latter option, commenting, "We will have automatic put on, so if you turn the filter off at 9pm, it turns on again at 7am."
II. Users May Simply Look to Sneak Porn in the Back Door
It is worth noting that the changes aren't as drastic as some might think, as they only affect access via home internet connections to certain kinds of adult content.
One hole in the censorship scheme is the impossibility of fully restricting user-posted pornographic content on various open video and image sharing sites (that are not exclusively pornographic, e.g. imgur or Reddit). Likewise, identifying adult content shared via filesharing will likely be infeasible.
Further, even the current scheme is not wholly new; adult content has long met stiff resistance of a similar depth from mobile internet carriers in the UK.
MP Perry says that education is as important as censorship/punishment. She states, "There's something different about the online world, it is anonymous, it is easy, and it is efficient to share imagery. The analogy I've used with these companies [ISPs and online portal firms] is, 'you've got yourself into a situation, by default, where you are peddling [pornography] to kids in a way that you never intended.'"
The UK will reportedly ban adult content altogether from more open-orifices -- public WiFi networks. But again, the real world implementations will be limited by practical restrictions in what kinds of content they will be able to identify as "naughty" and ban/filter.
"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007
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