UK Blocking Internet Porn, Requires Opt-In [UPDATE: Maybe Not]

The British government has worked out a deal to block pornographic websites unless households specifically request them.

The British government has worked out a deal to block pornographic websites unless households specifically request them.

Guardian (“Pornography to be blocked by internet service providers unless users opt in“):

Subscribers to four of the UK’s biggest internet service providers will have to “opt in” if they want to view sexually explicit websites, as part of government-sponsored curbs on online pornography.

The measures will be unveiled on Tuesday as David Cameron hosts No 10 meeting with the Mothers’ Union, which earlier this year produced a raft of proposals to shield children from sexualised imagery. The prime minister is expected to announce other moves in line with the Christian charity’s review, such as restrictions on aggressive advertising campaigns and certain types of images on billboards.

There will also be a website, Parentport, which parents can use to complain about television programmes, advertisements, products or services which they believe are inappropriate for children. The site, which will direct complaints to the regulator dealing with that specific area of concern, is expected to be run by watchdogs including the Advertising Standards Authority, BBC Trust, British Board of Film Classification, Ofcom, Press Complaints Commission, Video Standards Council and Pan European Game Information.

This is an amazingly backward move, essentially making the government the enforcement arm of the Religious Police. The chief impact, one suspects, will be to deny access to sexually explicit sites to adults too embarrassed (or married) to opt in. Additionally, the odds of sites that few would classify as pornographic nonetheless being banned approach 100 percent.

UPDATE: Alex Massie informs me via Twitter that the press accounts are wrong and that the policy will be opt-out and therefore not much different than existing policy.

FILED UNDER: Europe, Quick Takes, Science & Technology, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Herb says:

    Not really surprised. Even in recent history, the British government has no qualms regulating content. Just add this to the BBC’s refusal to play rock n roll in the 70s and the “video nasty” craze of the 80s.