Internet users in the United Kingdom could face restrictions on what they can see on their computer screens.
Customers of four of the country’s biggest internet service providers (ISPs), British Telecom, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media, will soon have access to adult-themed websites blocked by default, and be asked to whether they want to “opt in” to see them.
The government said these changes are part of a series of proposals aimed at shielding children from seeing inappropriate content in the media. These include a newly launched website called Parentport, which enables adults to complain about such content. But in doing so, are we heading towards a slippery slope to censorship?
The fear among many other ISPs, and indeed website hosting companies, is that such plans to restrict such access will simply not work. Critics will argue that not just sex websites could be affected, even respectable mainstream websites that contain a small amount of adult content could be blocked entirely. Parental controls are already available for adults to restrict their childrens’ web access anyway. The whole process, if not handled properly, could be turned into a huge legal minefield.
The government has indicated that they will not legislate for this, and hope that other ISPs will follow their example. But they will be accused of imposing censorship on the net through the back door. There are also concerns that they have been increasingly influenced by religious groups in policy decision making. Mothers Union is a Christian charity who helped compile a published report into the sexualisation of children in the media earlier this year.
The government simply hasn’t listened to reason on this…. they obviously want to control the internet to suit their own political agenda. There has been almost a complete absence of opposition from mainstream politicians on this, so it has been left to net experts and civil liberties groups to point out these flaws in public.
Make no mistake, these plans are a complete mess and ill-thought out, and will fail to deal with serious problems facing our young people today.