The UK Parliament and the index of online censorship have been leading a fierce battle over the children’s access to adult content websites. They face a continuous struggle with the children inappropriate content. The last proposal was considered to lead this whole discussion on a “slippery slope,” as Andrew Heaney commented.
Google doesn’t agree with the proposition for forcing the users to opt-in to access adult content.
At a debate in Hertfordshire, they didn’t agree with this new legislation proposition. In the same time, they warned people about the danger of allowing private companies to manage the lists of adult and inappropriate content websites.
The government is still considering this matter and has proposed to the ISPs (Internet service providers) to implement filters for adult sites. These filters should be on by default on every ISPs networks. If a user wishes to have access to adult content websites, they would have to issue a personal request to the service provider, thus disabling the filter.
So far, some ISPs have provided their users with the option to filter adult content on network level. However, although they took this extra step, they still do not agree to the government proposal of blocking adult content altogether. As an example, TalkTalk already has an option available for the users – they could ask for certain websites to be blocked at the network level.
This has been seen as “simple solution”.
Sarah Hunter, the Google’s head of public policy, stated that they are strongly in the favour of education over more severe, technical measures.
She also said:
“We believe that children shouldn’t be seeing pornography online. We disagree on the mechanisms. It’s not that easy.”
“There is a problem about the extent to which we deskill parents by giving them simple solutions.”
“We should be making more efforts than we’ve done in the past to make sure parents really do know the risks children face online.”
TalkTalk’s recent option for parents to turn on adult content filtering has come as a reaction against the criticizing of the ISPs for not doing more in order to stop the children from accessing online pornography.
TalkTalk’s executive director of strategy and regulation Andrew Heaney stated:
“It’s a great way of managing what children can see. We don’t see that as censorship, it’s about choice,”
“I think the government should be encouraging ISPs to offer [blocking]” .
“Certainly do not force them to turn it to default on. We step over this Rubicon into a dangerous world.”
Kirsty Hughes, the chief executive of Index on Censorship had another warning. She warned against the “privatisation” of the freedom of
“We’re talking about blocking legal content. Blocking child porn is not the same as blocking legal adult content that is available in our society”.
“Who decides what is blocked? Who puts together these lists? This is a form of censorship.”
“We’re talking about putting legal communication, information, either out of bounds or something you have to turn on to be part of that free world.”
Ms. Hunter said “We at Google also believe that children shouldn’t be seeing pornography online.All of us want children to be safe online. What we disagree with is the mechanisms by which we protect our children. It’s not that easy and the solutions that are being discussed are not perfect.”
“When you have companies making decisions for what is or isn’t appropriate for children, it’s difficult”.
“If we pretend all families are the same, we get into very difficult territory.”
Jim Killock of the Open Rights Group said: “We welcome a consultation, but default filters are awful. They block a wide range of innocent material; and nobody should be advocating broader and simpler censorship.”
Some web users do not agree with the government’s proposition. Being informed by the ISPs about this option and being updated regarding this matter would be a great idea, but “I couldn’t call and tell them I want to watch porn!” an Internet user declared.