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UK: Petition for porn filters nears 100,000 signatures

Friday, 8 June 2012, 23:33 (IST)
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A petition calling upon the Government to force internet service providers to make accessing pornography an adult only opt-in service has gathered more than 95,000 signatures.

The petition’s organisers, SaferMedia and Premier Media Group, are aiming to reach 100,000 signatures before the petition is closed in a few weeks.

They argue that the filter would give parents greater control over what their children are viewing online and stop sexually explicit material coming into the home.

Major ISPs have resisted pressure to introduce the filter despite widespread concern about the impact pornography is having on children and young people in Britain.

TalkTalk is so far the only ISP to offer an opt-in filter to parents at network level. BT, Sky and Virgin have only agreed to offer customers the option of installing parental controls.

Google’s head of UK public policy Sarah Hunter recently rejected the system, calling instead for more “training” for parents.

“Unfortunately for 14-year old boys, there is a limit on how you can protect them when they are actively searching for pornography,” she said.

The Prime Minister is reportedly to consult on whether ISPs should be made to block adult material as a default for their customers.

The intervention follows a parliamentary inquiry chaired by Tory MP Claire Perry which concluded that the Government and ISPs need to do more to protect children from viewing unsuitable content online.

A leading American neuroscientist, Dr William Struthers, told MPs at the House of Commons last month that young people in Britain were “rampantly” accessing porn.

He warned that people who are exposed to sexually explicit material at a young age are more likely to act out what they see, become sexually active at a younger age, and have problems forming deep relationships with other people.

“They are not ready for the stimulation that an adult brain can handle,” said Dr Struther.

“They can see it, they know how to do it, but they don’t know how to emotionally respond to the consequences of those actions.”

According to Psychologies Magazine, the single largest group of internet pornography consumers is children aged 12 to 17.

A YouGov poll last year found that 93% of women and 73% of men in the UK feel that the ease with which pornographic material can be viewed online is damaging to children.


On the web: www.safetynet.org.uk


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Have your say on this article

Added: Thursday, 28 June 2012, 17:26 (IST)

I am afraid I disagree with some of the points in this article. For example, the statement "the filter would give parents greater control over what their children are viewing online" is totally untrue. Parents would have less control as the sites being blacklisted are chosen by other people whose views and moral values may be very different to your own. Who decides what sites should be blocked? Should sites concerning puberty, human biology, teen problems and those with information about abortion be blocked? Shouldn't that be a parent's decision who knows how mature their children are and when they are capable of dealing with these topics? A better alternative would be for parents to take an active role in their children's use of the Internet and use their own choice of filtering tools which they have total control over and can choose what is allowed or blocked. The 'knee-jerk' reaction to force ISPs to turn on filtering by default, while appearing to be a good thing, will actually have a negative effect. Some parents will become complacent thinking that they no longer have to monitor their children's online activities because they think the filters are protecting them. The filters will in no way prevent emailed pornography, adult topics being discussed on chat sites, forums or on social media sites, images returned in search results, cyberbullying or online grooming. I think a lot of supporters of this scheme are ill-informed about that. Blanket blocks will be seen as a challenge for children to find ways around, which are easily done by use of proxies and VPN (encrypted) connections - as seen when ISPs were recently ordered to block access to 'The Pirate Bay'. Those still wanting to access the site have found and documented many ways around the attempted blocks with ease. As a Christian and a good parent I am obviously against children accessing pornography on the Internet, but I think teaching the children why it is wrong to access these things and preparing them for the future when they have their own homes and Internet connections is a far better approach. While my daughter is still a child I sit with her and we use the Internet together as an enjoyable family activity. Because we discuss it and she is aware there are bad things on the Internet, she doesn't want to see them and knows she can approach me if something unexpected appears or she is unsure of.

Frank, Staffordshire, UK

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