UK rejects proposals to automatically block porn

All the way back in October 2011, we reported on a controversial proposal in the UK to introduce a mandatory opt-in to view adult content on the web. The proposal, put forward by special interest groups such as the Mothers' Union charity, received public support from some Members of Parliament, including Prime Minister David Cameron, and would have required internet service providers to automatically restrict access to pornographic content unless users registered to opt in to view such materials with their ISP.

Unsurprisingly, ISPs weren't exactly thrilled by this prospect and have repeatedly resisted and rejected calls to get on board with the proposals. Earlier this year, the UK's Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) said that "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", and went on to highlight the ease with which such restrictions could be circumvented.

But over a year on, it seems that the plans have now fallen apart. BBC News reports that Government ministers have rejected the proposals to automatically block access to adult content at an ISP level, citing a lack of support among parents and other interested parties. Despite a petition with over 115,000 signatures being submitted to the Prime Minister's Office, a ten-week consultation found that just a third of parents were in favour of an automatic universal block, while a further 15% wanted to see certain content filtered but not on the full scale originally proposed.

The final report on the consultation period found "no great appetite among parents for the introduction of default filtering of the internet by their ISP", but 13% of respondents were said to support "a system where you are automatically asked some questions about what you want your children to access". The report also appeared to echo the sentiments of ISPA in suggesting that a universal block would create a "false sense of security" for parents, given that no system would be able to successfully and completely restrict access to "all potentially harmful content".

Indeed, in the wake of the report, it seems that both ministers and ISPs are now favouring better awareness of parental control tools as a more practical solution to the problem. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) expressed disappointment at the outcome. While it praised the Government for taking "a step in the right direction in making the internet safer for children", the NSPCC's Alan Wardle maintains that "the best option to protect children is for adult content to be automatically blocked" by ISPs.


What are your thoughts on the outcome of the consultation? Would you have been comfortable registering with your ISP to be able to access adult content? Do you think it was a mistake to reject the proposals? And should parents take more responsibility in protecting their children online? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Source: BBC News

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft Surface now on sale at retailers in France

Next Story

It's official: Nokia announces the Lumia 505

22 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I would say that in morally non-twisted society act of killing should be considered worse than act of sex and war movies should not be glorified more than porn. This is why I find it a little bit funny when my fellow animal eaters, who rely on animal killing industry, are fast to judge somebody who f***s one out of love . If Mass Effect aliens had our moral standards then at some point Liara or Tali probably would prefer eating us than be accused of bestiality by their fellow beings. Lets hope that robots with artificial intelligence or aliens won't be worse in moral judgment than us and we won't end up on the farms in the future .

Funny, the internet was put up as a free place for everyone and now governments and other pricks that didn't invest a dime in it act like they own it.

Come on, we all know full well why Cameron and the rest of the MPs rejected it. They're worried that the ISP list will be leaked of what MPs have unblocked Porn.. then they'd have to explain why they're wanting to view porn lol...

best comment ever,

Come on, we all know full well why Cameron and the rest of the MPs rejected it. They're worried that the ISP list will be leaked of what MPs have unblocked Porn.. then they'd have to explain why they're wanting to view porn lol... honestly though, it's really up to parents to teach their children how to use the internet in a safe manner, its not for the state or ISPs to mummy cuddle the kids when its next to impossible to block all adult content anyway. Clad to see MPs are actually using porn and don't want it blocked. One less step towards censorship of online content... shame we're heading in a different direction though.

this world is becoming retarted. instead of relying on common sense governments keep on trying to forbid just anything.

is this really the new world order we wanna live in?

It is down to the parents to restrict their kids Internet usage. There are plenty of different software/guides out there to teach parents how to block unwanted websites. Also don't some ISPs offer parental services? If you could do it at router level, you could easily stop kids.

While i think porn is pointless. It isn't illegal. So why should it be blocked by default. It is basically making parents more lazy.

Excellent news. Educating parents is the best way to go about this. Censoring the internet to apease some busybody mothers would have been a massive mistake. It'd also be the start of the road to censorship hell (i.e. "If we can block porn, why can't we block <insert mildly offensive/political content here>").

If people want the internet "safer" for their kids, there's a multitude of software out there that handles that for you. If you're too lazy to install some parental controls, or set up OpenDNS to block porn, that's your problem, not mine.

I personally wouldn't have had a problem opting into adult content, but I could see that many would. Then again though, this kind of thing would last about 10 minutes before someone found a way around it. Pirate bay proxies anyone?

No. Don't let them have any control, first it will be this, tomorrow it will be something else. Give them an inch and they WILL take it a mile.