|UK Prime Minister to Block Access to Porn|
|By JOANNA STERN (@joannastern)||Jul 22, 2013, 2:50 PM|
In a fight to combat children's access to pornography and the existence of child pornography on the Internet, British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a series of new steps, including having Internet providers in the country automatically block access to pornography sites.
He is also urging tech giants to do a better job of blocking child pornography, calling it "a moral duty" to do so.
"When it comes to the Internet, in the balance between freedom and responsibility, we have neglected our responsibility to our children," Cameron said in a speech given in London early this morning. "My argument is that the Internet is not a sideline to 'real life' or an escape from 'real life'; it is real life."
The efforts to combat the two separate problems -- the proliferation of child pornography online as well as the access children have to viewing pornographic videos and images -- will begin this month, he said.
Cracking Down on Child Pornography
The UK's National Crime Agency has already begun to work on plans to more effectively track down pedophiles who upload graphic photos and videos, but "this isn't just a job for the government," Cameron said.
"The Internet service providers and the search engine companies have a vital role to play and we have already reached a number of important agreements with them," he said.
While reported child pornography images are blocked by search engines and Internet providers, Cameron urged search engines to do more by intercepting those who are searching for the content. He said the warning pages should explicitly tell users that child pornography isn't only illegal, but that those who view it "face consequences, such as losing their job, their family, even access to their children if they continue."
He also said specific searches should be blocked.
"Put simply, there needs to be a list of terms -- a black list -- which offer up no direct search results," he said. "I have a very clear message for Google, Bing, Yahoo and the rest -- you have a duty to act on this -- and it is a mortal duty."
Cracking Down on Access to Pornography
Cameron is also fighting children's access to pornography, and to that end, he has taken steps at the Internet provider level to block pornography web sites. By the end of this month, "Family Friendly Wi-Fi" hotspots will be lit up across the country. They will have "family-friendly filters," blocking all porn sites.
Those same filters will also extend to inside the house. Four of the biggest Internet service providers in the UK -- TalkTalk, Virgin, Sky and BT -- have agreed after negotiations to enable home network filters that block pornography by default.
"By the end of this year, when someone sets up a new broadband account, the setting to install family friendly filters will be automatically selected," Cameron said.
While the pornography filter is automatically enabled, users will be able to turn it off by adjusting the settings, though it can only be changed by the account holder, who must be an adult. The providers will also contact existing customers to allow them to enable the block.
Online, Pornography Education
According to recent study by CyberTruth, kids are watching porn as early as the age of 6 because of easier access to the content on the Internet. However, while blocking the content is one method, others argue for more education and awareness about pornographic content.
"The answer to everything that worries people about porn and its impact on life and sex is not to shut down, clamp down or block -- the answer is to open up the dialog," Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, a site that creates porn that it says does not objectify women.
Gallop said parents need to have a different conversation about sex with their children these days.
"The conversation we need to have with children is 'We know you are online and you might see porn sites, but not all women want to be tied up or dress like sluts,'" she said.
Cameron also said he believes in education, but of a different sort.
"That doesn't mean teaching young children about pornography, it means sensible, age-appropriate education about what to expect on the Internet," he said. "We're taking action on how children access this stuff, on how they're educated about it and I can tell you today we are also taking action on the content that is online."