New UK Bill Attempts to Ban Internet Porn Automatically Via ISPs, Mobile Operators
April 6, 2012 9:26 AM
The Online Safety Bill will make ISPs and mobile service providers offer porn-free Internet unless a user 18 or older opts-in later
A new bill in the United Kingdom aims to force internet service providers (ISPs) and mobile network providers to offer internet packages that exclude access to pornographic material by default.
The new bill, called the Online Safety Bill, was raised in the House of Lords by Baroness Howe of Ildicote. It is a Private Members Bill, which requires government support before it can be made into law.
The Online Safety Bill would require ISPs and mobile network providers to sell internet services to the UK public that automatically blocks porn. In order to gain access to pornographic material, a user that is over 18 years of age must call their provider and ask for it directly. Even if the adult user opts-in, they could
still be denied access
to porn if the website they search for doesn't have an age verification policy.
In addition, ISPs and mobile operators must provide clear and easily accessible information on their porn-free services from the beginning of the service until the end.
ISPs and mobile service providers aren't the only ones targeted in this bill. Device manufacturers would also have to offer customers a way to filter adult material from the internet when the device is purchased. This rule would apply to all gadgets capable of connecting to the internet.
ISPs are not happy with the Online Safety Bill, and have argued that there are already other options available to parents who want to stop their children from watching inappropriate material.
"It is important for parents to take an active role in what their children see and do online and configure and tailor tools as appropriate," said a spokesperson for the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA). "
Many ISPs already offer solutions
as part of their service to help prevent users accessing unwanted content online and ISPs actively promote these to their customers.
"Filtering by default will only reduce the degree of active interest and parental mediation, lull parents into a false sense of security and lead to over blocking. The question also arises of who decides what is pornographic and what is not."
But ISPs, mobile network providers, and device manufacturers may not have to worry too much about the bill. According to
, Private Members Bills hardly ever pass into law without the support of the government, and it looks as though the government doesn't want much to do with the Online Safety Bill at this point.
"We understand the sentiment behind this Private Members Bill, but it isn’t something that Government would support," said a Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesman. "Much can be achieved through self-regulation and it can be more effective than a regulatory approach in delivering flexible solutions that work for both industry and consumers."
Government restrictions on the internet have proved to be a bad idea recently, with
, the Chinese branch of the hacker group Anonymous, defacing and stealing information from nearly 500 Chinese government and corporate websites since March 30. Anonymous China said it did this to rebel against the government's internet censorship.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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