The public consultation into what sort of parental controls should be in place by default, with adults then able to opt-out has been running for almost ten weeks now. The process started off with an online form, but after it was discovered you could view other peoples forms and change their response this consultation and others on the Department of Education website were taken offline.
After a short while, the consultation re-opened, but has been restricted to people who can download and edit a Microsoft Word document. Given the ease with which commercial companies can make use of survey engines, one has to question the sanity of a consultation into online activity that feels more like an old fashioned letter writing scheme instead.
The consultation gave three main options, which all resulted in some form of filtering, the Word based form does allow for people to state whether "systems like this should be in place for all internet connections and households, or just for those with children?". Which raises an interesting point, how would a broadband provider know whether you had children or not, and what happens when they visit relatives who have no children of their own, and Internet access?
The Scotsman is reporting that a petition signed by some 110,000 people demanding that providers block access to hardcore pornography will be handed to the Government on Thursday by safetynet.org.uk. The precise wording that people on the petition have agreed support for is "To protect children I call on the Government to force Internet Service Providers to make accessing pornography an adult only opt-in service.".
One counter petition is being ran by the Open Rights Group, which does not object to parents being allowed to block or opt into commercial schemes such as that ran by TalkTalk, but is worried that implementations may result in over blocking, for example all the reporting about this consultation, might flag websites as 18+ to automatic systems and result in many sites being labeled adult-only for little reason. A more credible example is the Google Play store, which carries material that ranges from suitable for children to 18+, should network level filtering block the whole store or individual pages?
We have all grown up with books requiring no age restrictions, and the idea of censorship of books even upsets the Daily Mail. While 50 Shades of Grey is the headline grabber, erotic literature is not a new genre, just the first series of books to be so publicly visible.