Cameron announces porn filter to protect children's 'innocence'

PM outlines his system to help parents protect children from adult content. But will it work?

LAST UPDATED AT 12:12 ON Thu 20 Dec 2012

CHILDREN will be protected from watching pornography and other adult content by an internet filter that can be tailored by their parents, the Prime Minister announced today. But the fact the system will only be applied to people who take out a new internet contract means "the vast majority" of web users will see no difference in the content they access online, the big four internet service providers (ISPs) said.
 
Why do we need a filter? Writing in the Daily Mail today, Cameron says it is "utterly appalling" that so many children have been exposed to the "darkest corners" of the internet. "A silent attack on innocence is under way in our country today and I am determined that we fight it with all we've got," he writes.
 
Who's behind the push for a filter? Earlier this year the Mothers' Union came up with a "raft of proposals" to shield children from online porn, says The Guardian. Conservative MP Claire Perry has called for a "broader, automatic block" on adult material for all internet users, but that idea was rejected by the ISPs in October as too expensive and too restrictive. Last week the government conceded that the kind of "default block" proposed by Perry was not practical.
 
How will the new system work? The plan unveiled by Cameron today only affects people who sign a new contract with an ISP. When they turn on their computer for the first time they will see a prompt message asking if there are children in the house. If there are, parents will be "automatically prompted to tailor their internet filters", Cameron says. If parents repeatedly click ‘OK' to get through the set-up quickly, filters against "obvious threats" like porn and self-harm sites will be left on. The filter will be flexible enough to allow a complete block on younger children's access to some sites – Facebook, for example – while allowing older siblings to view them later in the day, says The Guardian. And Cameron wants ISPs to check the age of the person setting up the filter to make sure crafty children aren't doing it themselves.
 
Will it work? Cameron says his new system will give Britain the "most robust internet child protection measures" in the world. Jon Brown of the NSPCC told the Daily Telegraph the plan was "a big step in the right direction". But the four big ISPs, who have 17.6 million of the 19.2 million broadband customers in the UK, say it won't make any difference to most users. That, says The Guardian, is because the filter will only be offered to people who take out a new contract and "fewer than five per cent" of any ISP's customers change provider in any given quarter. · 

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Wont be long before those that do not take out a new ISP contract and have children will be branded as irresponsible, because they are not actively restricting access to porn. Soon after that it will be a legal offence.

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