The UK's Feckless Internet Porn Ban Plan

Illustration for article titled The UKs Feckless Internet Porn Ban Plan

The UK's communications minister wants ISPs to automatically block porn unless your household opts into it. For The Children. There are so many ways this is a terrible idea.

Minister Ed Vaizey recently gave an interview in which he said, "I think it's very important that it's the ISPs that come up with solutions to protect children. I'm hoping they will get their acts together so that we don't have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years."

But it's not like UK ISPs are racing to implement this plan, which sounds a little bit like it came out of 1995. A rep for an industry association told the BBC the group "firmly believes that controls on children's access to the internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down."


Whatever your philosophical leanings on the issue — and we're no experts in UK telecom or free-speech laws — the vague proposal is also impossible to implement.

The same rep pointed out that a giant porn block would be a blunt tool, inevitably blocking sites that weren't actually porn. (Like this one, blocked at some of your workplaces!). Someone would have to define what porn is and isn't, and decide whether, say, watching the video of the pulled Smithsonian Portrait Gallery AIDS-protest work counts. And the blockers would have to outsmart the ever-mutating ways to pass on information online, including torrents and social media. But it appears the people who would actually have the skills to do so have no interest in helping Vaizey unless they have to.

Internet Porn Block "Not Possible," Say ISPs [BBC]
Broadband Firms Urged To Block Sex Websites To Protect Children [Guardian]

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I'm not really against this. Do parents need to monitor their children better? Probably. But younger and younger children are accessing pornography that gives them skewed ideas of sex and what women should look like, as well as how women should be treated. That doesn't just affect them, it affects me and every other woman as well.

But I'm a radical feminist, so I'm just a killjoy.