Brits to take on internet porn

Great Britain’s new get-serious coalition government is concerned with the sexualization of children and may have found a way to thwart internet pornography.  Instead of setting up systems to “opt out” of certain kinds of content, adult users would have to “opt in” before  getting access to pornography.

THE UK Government is to combat the early sexualization of children by blocking internet pornography unless parents request it, it was revealed today.

The move is intended to ensure that children are not exposed to sex as a routine by-product of the internet. It follows warnings about the hidden damage being done to children by sex sites.

The biggest broadband providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, are being called to a meeting next month by Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, and will be asked to change how pornography gets into homes.

Instead of using parental controls to stop access to pornography – so-called “opting out” – the tap will be turned off at source. Adults will then have to “opt in.”

The new initiative is in advance of the imminent convergence of the internet and television on one large screen in the living room.

It follows the success of an operation by most British internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent people inadvertently viewing child porn websites. Ministers want companies to use similar technology to shut out adult pornography from children. Pornography sites will be blocked at source unless people specifically ask to view them.

via All internet porn will be blocked to protect children, under UK government plan | News.com.au.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Some day, politicians will talk to software (and hardware) engineers before having their bright ideas. A better solution would be to require all pornography sites to end in “.xxx” This would allow much greater control over content. Imagine a family that wants porn – but doesn’t want their kid to see it. The “opt in/out” thing is pointless for these. My solution would allow individual devices and/or log in profiles to be tailored to accept or reject explicitly sexual sites.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Some day, politicians will talk to software (and hardware) engineers before having their bright ideas. A better solution would be to require all pornography sites to end in “.xxx” This would allow much greater control over content. Imagine a family that wants porn – but doesn’t want their kid to see it. The “opt in/out” thing is pointless for these. My solution would allow individual devices and/or log in profiles to be tailored to accept or reject explicitly sexual sites.

  • Cincinnatus

    Basically, what John said. In fact, I’ve heard the proposal of an “.xxx” suffix for pornographic websites floated around in the United States several times. Personally, I think that would be the only way of limiting the content without violating current understandings of the First Amendment.

  • Cincinnatus

    Basically, what John said. In fact, I’ve heard the proposal of an “.xxx” suffix for pornographic websites floated around in the United States several times. Personally, I think that would be the only way of limiting the content without violating current understandings of the First Amendment.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    A better idea is parents actually surfing with their kids, you know being a parent. It is very easy to avoid pornography on the internet. Google safe search is pretty good at filtering out pornographic imagery. And it doesn’t take long to figure out what areas to avoid.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    A better idea is parents actually surfing with their kids, you know being a parent. It is very easy to avoid pornography on the internet. Google safe search is pretty good at filtering out pornographic imagery. And it doesn’t take long to figure out what areas to avoid.

  • DonS

    The problem with .xxx, or opt-in protocols, is that a lot of providers don’t want to voluntarily use them, for the same reason they don’t want an NC-17 rating on their movie. It limits the audience. They want to be in the mainstream. So, who is going to police what needs to be on a .xxx site, or what sites need opt-in limitations? Where will the lines be drawn? And who will draw them?

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I would love it if getting smut off our computers were that easy. I just don’t think these types of approaches can work effectively without unreasonably restrictive controls and government involvement.

  • DonS

    The problem with .xxx, or opt-in protocols, is that a lot of providers don’t want to voluntarily use them, for the same reason they don’t want an NC-17 rating on their movie. It limits the audience. They want to be in the mainstream. So, who is going to police what needs to be on a .xxx site, or what sites need opt-in limitations? Where will the lines be drawn? And who will draw them?

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I would love it if getting smut off our computers were that easy. I just don’t think these types of approaches can work effectively without unreasonably restrictive controls and government involvement.

  • WebMonk

    Ditto with the above comments – technically infeasible and practically impossible for a million other reasons.

    Would Sports Illustrated Swimsuit be required to be on an xxx domain? What about sites that have all their pr0n behind a login with payment and “age verification” required? Toon pr0n? (which I am simultaneously embarrassed and proud to say I had never heard of until some news stories about Marge Simpson being in Playboy) “Erotic literature”?

    Yeah, I can’t wait to see laws and regulations try to deal with a can of worms like that!!

  • WebMonk

    Ditto with the above comments – technically infeasible and practically impossible for a million other reasons.

    Would Sports Illustrated Swimsuit be required to be on an xxx domain? What about sites that have all their pr0n behind a login with payment and “age verification” required? Toon pr0n? (which I am simultaneously embarrassed and proud to say I had never heard of until some news stories about Marge Simpson being in Playboy) “Erotic literature”?

    Yeah, I can’t wait to see laws and regulations try to deal with a can of worms like that!!

  • Cincinnatus

    Webmonk (and others), I’m not necessarily advocating the censorship of internet pornography, but it may be worth mentioning that printed pornography and other pornographic media are regulated more or less stringently, and numerous instances of case precedent support the practice.

  • Cincinnatus

    Webmonk (and others), I’m not necessarily advocating the censorship of internet pornography, but it may be worth mentioning that printed pornography and other pornographic media are regulated more or less stringently, and numerous instances of case precedent support the practice.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Yeah, I don’t see how the British proposal or the “.xxx” one would actually work, at least fully.

    The question still becomes: what is pornography? Swimsuit editions of magazines? Only if they use that stupid body paint and not, actually, you know, swimsuits? What about “artistic” nudes, common in modern photography? Some are titillating, some are not. What about photos of Michaelangelo’s David? What about medical illustrations? Or photos of breasts or genitals for medical purposes?

    It’s not a technical problem. It’s a cultural one.

    And what’s to prevent your teenage son from “opting in” for your family? And who wants the government having a list of porn viewers?

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Yeah, I don’t see how the British proposal or the “.xxx” one would actually work, at least fully.

    The question still becomes: what is pornography? Swimsuit editions of magazines? Only if they use that stupid body paint and not, actually, you know, swimsuits? What about “artistic” nudes, common in modern photography? Some are titillating, some are not. What about photos of Michaelangelo’s David? What about medical illustrations? Or photos of breasts or genitals for medical purposes?

    It’s not a technical problem. It’s a cultural one.

    And what’s to prevent your teenage son from “opting in” for your family? And who wants the government having a list of porn viewers?

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    DonS, I was suggesting a solution for the Brits, whose plan is to demand that all porn providers not be able to communicate with any but an approved list of URLs. Any objection to my solution is already present in the current British proposal. In Britain there will be no “if providers want to use them.” We are talking mandatory law, not voluntary collaboration. And of course, there is no pure solution to looking up smut on the computer – but everyone will agree that there is a big difference between Sports Illustrated and “www.LustAndBondage.com” (or .xxx, as the case may be).

    Of course there will always be people who get around the rules, which is why you can still download Tron Legacy while reading emails from your starry-eyed Nigerian friends. At the end of the day, however, the British plan is already a failure because it is doesn’t account for adults who want pornography but don’t want their kids to see it. And when one really thinks about it, that describes just about every porn user with children.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    DonS, I was suggesting a solution for the Brits, whose plan is to demand that all porn providers not be able to communicate with any but an approved list of URLs. Any objection to my solution is already present in the current British proposal. In Britain there will be no “if providers want to use them.” We are talking mandatory law, not voluntary collaboration. And of course, there is no pure solution to looking up smut on the computer – but everyone will agree that there is a big difference between Sports Illustrated and “www.LustAndBondage.com” (or .xxx, as the case may be).

    Of course there will always be people who get around the rules, which is why you can still download Tron Legacy while reading emails from your starry-eyed Nigerian friends. At the end of the day, however, the British plan is already a failure because it is doesn’t account for adults who want pornography but don’t want their kids to see it. And when one really thinks about it, that describes just about every porn user with children.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Of course, pornography cannot be regulated completely effectively (if regulation is indeed a course we wish to pursue). But, again, we already have standards for what legally constitutes pornography. The SI Swimsuit Edition doesn’t count. Yes, the standards are subjective. But they do exist, and they work for other media. Look up Miller v. California if you have a chance. Impossibility is not what renders the regulation of internet porn problematic; it is the constitutional concerns of First Amendment fanatics.

  • Cincinnatus

    tODD: Of course, pornography cannot be regulated completely effectively (if regulation is indeed a course we wish to pursue). But, again, we already have standards for what legally constitutes pornography. The SI Swimsuit Edition doesn’t count. Yes, the standards are subjective. But they do exist, and they work for other media. Look up Miller v. California if you have a chance. Impossibility is not what renders the regulation of internet porn problematic; it is the constitutional concerns of First Amendment fanatics.

  • DonS

    John @ 8: Got it. I understand, and appreciate that the UK does not have the 1st Amendment, as we do. Moreover, I hate that the 1st Amendment is interpreted to give almost ironclad protection to pornographers, while providing much less to political and religious speech — the very reasons it was enacted!

    That being said, I still hesitate to do things that involve a big government control apparatus, and I really hesitate to have government poke its head into the area of Internet censorship. I would rather address these issues through parental control with the assistance of appropriate filters. When we allow government to do our job for us, we always live to regret its coercive, heavy, and inflexible hand.

    And that goes not just for Americans, but for the rest of the world as well, including the Brits.

  • DonS

    John @ 8: Got it. I understand, and appreciate that the UK does not have the 1st Amendment, as we do. Moreover, I hate that the 1st Amendment is interpreted to give almost ironclad protection to pornographers, while providing much less to political and religious speech — the very reasons it was enacted!

    That being said, I still hesitate to do things that involve a big government control apparatus, and I really hesitate to have government poke its head into the area of Internet censorship. I would rather address these issues through parental control with the assistance of appropriate filters. When we allow government to do our job for us, we always live to regret its coercive, heavy, and inflexible hand.

    And that goes not just for Americans, but for the rest of the world as well, including the Brits.

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