UK ISPs continue to resist calls to block online porn

You may recall that in October 2011, we reported on plans by the British Government to force internet service providers to restrict access to online pornography by default, requiring users to ‘opt in’ to view explicit sexual content (or opt out of the mandatory filters, if you prefer).

While those proposals have not yet been fully implemented, the idea remains alive and well, and Prime Minister David Cameron this week reiterated his support for the broad strokes, so to speak, of the concept. But the UK’s ISPs aren’t at all happy with the proposals, and have hit back at the plans, accusing the Government of viewing such content filters as “a silver bullet".

Nicholas Lansman, the secretary general of the UK’s Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), told The Telegraph: “Forcing ISPs to filter adult content at the network level, which users would then have to opt out of, is neither the most effective nor most appropriate way to prevent access to inappropriate material online.”


Inappropriate, in so many ways.

Lobby groups and charities on the other side of the argument believe that this is simply obfuscation on the part of the ISPs, who have no wish to be saddled with this kind of responsibility. The ISPs, meanwhile, believe that the proposals aren’t just technically unsound, but also undermine the role that parents should be playing in monitoring the content that their children view online.

Mr. Lansman added that network-level filtering "is easy to circumvent, reduces the degree of active interest and parental mediation, and has clear implications for freedom of speech. Instead, parents should choose how they restrict access to content, be it on the device- or network-level, with the tools provided.” Such comments will no doubt anger the charity Mothers’ Union, one of the strongest proponents of the plans, who last year produced a report which it shared with Prime Minister Cameron, which not only supported the idea of ISP network-level filters of adult content, but also proposed enforcing age restrictions for music videos and a nationwide reduction or ban on inappropriate slogans on children's clothing.


The debate continues over who should protect children from adult content - parents or service providers?

The position of the ISPs is that rather than mandating that web providers should do parents’ work for them, “Government should concentrate on helping educate consumers to ensure they know about the tools already available to them to restrict unwanted content.” The Government’s position doesn’t seem to have weakened, however.

Prime Minister Cameron yesterday told the House of Commons that he still believes online child protection to be “a very important subject”, and promised to continue working with ISPs “to deliver these systems". He also said that he would carefully review the findings of a cross-party Inquiry, set up by the Government last year, which has reported that ISPs are failing to go far enough in blocking inappropriate content.

While the UK’s four largest internet service providers – BT, Sky Broadband, Virgin Media and TalkTalk – agreed last year to work with the Government on introducing filters and a mandatory opt-in to adult content, only TalkTalk has so far formally announced its plans to force its customers to choose whether or not they would like access to online pornography. Since the measure was introduced last month, TalkTalk reports that one in three of its new customers have opted to keep pornographic content blocked on their accounts.


Lower image via Sky News

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36 Comments

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I said before I don't care ... I love porn. I'm a perverted mother fu**er but I am 100% happy for this to go in place. 'Opt in' would be so easy, so I don't really see the issue.

One major problem with this idea is that it's impossible to detect and block all porn, and as soon as an ISP obliged to do that failed, someone would sue them for not doing an adequate job.

So I clearly understand why ISP's prefer to avoid this obligation in the first place.

This is such a typical example of legislators not understanding technology and the difficulties in achieving what they're asking for. It's not as if you can say "I don't want to see X online, so stop X from appearing", and then an ISP would conveniently address that issue.

Northgrove said,
One major problem with this idea is that it's impossible to detect and block all porn, and as soon as an ISP obliged to do that failed, someone would sue them for not doing an adequate job.

So I clearly understand why ISP's prefer to avoid this obligation in the first place.

This is such a typical example of legislators not understanding technology and the difficulties in achieving what they're asking for. It's not as if you can say "I don't want to see X online, so stop X from appearing", and then an ISP would conveniently address that issue.

Bingo, any registered domain could become a porn site. Try hotbunsagainstme.com who knows what that could be.

Why does it have to be turned off by default, just make it easy for people/parents to switch on the filter. Just let capitalism do the job, if there is a demand for it someone will provide it. We don't need stupid laws like this, someone should go up to David and slap him in the face with a dildo.

Gaffney said,
Why does it have to be turned off by default, just make it easy for people/parents to switch on the filter. Just let capitalism do the job, if there is a demand for it someone will provide it. We don't need stupid laws like this, someone should go up to David and slap him in the face with a dildo.

I'd pay a lot of money (12 months' internet porn subscriptions worth!) to see someone slap Cameron with a dildo...

TrickyDickie said,

I'd pay a lot of money (12 months' internet porn subscriptions worth!) to see someone slap Cameron with a dildo...

I'd pay a lot just to see someone streak down 10 downing and slap Cameron with a dildo...

Government should concentrate on talking about the opt-out for organ donors, yet it would take only a couple of weeks to set up.

Instead they concentrate on trying to bring up our children. If I don't want my kids to see porn, I will put measures in place myself. If you want to ensure 100% they don't see any, don't have the internet / only have personal access to it.

My ISP uses modem/router units with content filters built in and turned off by default.

Not an issue to call the ISP to block p0rn from my kids please.

How about, have an OPT IN as in, if you do NOT want porn, call your ISP and make it blocked ... see how many call <5% of the population - all of which would be those moms in that cult thing mentioned in the post ....

imagine male life without porn ... W T F mofos

Well ofc this will pass and become law.. if it fails they will rename it and try try again until it does become standard.. Thats what always happens anyway.

I bet this time next year the news will read "ISP's are charging £5,99 a month for adult internet service op-in" creating a sky TV monopoly of the internet..

You have accsess to basic internet websites like BBC, ITV, 4OD and then your have an entertainment package, adult package, education..... etc etc etc.. all for a small fee ofc... (nothings restricted, you have access you just have to pay for it making any freedom of info law's void)

The government will be able to get 20% VAT and another 20% internet stealth tax on top of the ISP charge ofc..

This is how it works kids...

I think you've hit the nail on the head here. The government wants more control over the internet and its citizens' activities, and the corporatocracy wants to monitise every nook and cranny of it. The two big powers' goals have become conjoined, and this legislation is the culmination of that corrupt partnership.

stupid lazy bitch mothers union why not assume there responsibilities as parents instead of ruining it for everyone lol

lamebo said,
stupid lazy bitch mothers union why not assume there responsibilities as parents instead of ruining it for everyone lol

Because everyones lazy nowadays.

...support for the broad strokes
Lolz. Better support them "strokes"! You never know when the gov will make it difficult to get them.

On a more serious note, this whole idea stinks. I can imagine how much fun it would be to gain access to the list of porn requesting users and post it online for all to see. Yey

Its amusing to see cameron think he can block porn on the internet... the half wit doesn't realise the only things he'll end up blocking is mainstream/popular pornsites and the ability of parents to educate their children on what is approperiate to look at and/or monitor them on the home PC.

Hands off!
Governments need to stay out of this, ISP's as well, if anything it should be opt-in to filters not opt-out if ISP's want to offer it such as a value added service for the few that will bother.

I like how the pic on the front page is different and not shown here. It reminds me of being a kid and trying to look at the "fuzzy" channels.

Andy Weir's favourite words seems to be "obfuscation" and "obfuscate" lol. I had to "google" it to learn it's meaning a while ago and I keep noticing it in all his articles now lol.

On topic, this is ridiculous - though keep in mind how hilarious it will be when politicians get ratted for ringing up their ISP's to have access lol! They will quickly regret their stupidity.

I shouldnt have to feel like a dirty pervert. Ringing my ISP like a sex-line because I want a quick five knuckle shuffle.

McKay said,
I shouldnt have to feel like a dirty pervert. Ringing my ISP like a sex-line because I want a quick five knuckle shuffle.

Well there's always proxies out there.

Parents should be parents and pay attention to what their kids are viewing on the net. There's parental controls for the web online and similarly in the OS for a reason.

How about the government stop trying to parent and the parents do a better job instead?

Tom said,
Parents should be parents and pay attention to what their kids are viewing on the net. There's parental controls for the web online and similarly in the OS for a reason.

How about the government stop trying to parent and the parents do a better job instead?


This.

Or don't look at pornography from such an outlandish POV.

Nothing wrong in showing your kids some of what's out there and talking about how it's not reflecting reality (necessarily).
That'd be way better than putting the big black sheet of secrecy on it, which just draws kids' attention more if anything.
Now that + unreflected consumption at early age of some of the more "rough porn" may be really what I'd say needs tackling, not porn per sé though and certainly not in this way lol.

Kids will be kids and kids will find ways to get to the forbidden fruits. (uhm... lol)

GS:mac

Glassed Silver said,

This.

Or don't look at pornography from such an outlandish POV.

GS:mac

I know right? I prefer they just set the camera down and go at it

"TalkTalk reports that one in three of its new customers have opted to keep pornographic content blocked on their accounts." 2/3 want to keep porn. Government take a hint.

zikalify said,
"TalkTalk reports that one in three of its new customers have opted to keep pornographic content blocked on their accounts." 2/3 want to keep porn. Government take a hint.

Please don't let facts get in the way of proper reporting

Weren't Talk Talk one of the ISP's against the other censoring thing the Gov wanted to do recently? Hypocrisy?