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Parental controls could be extended to block non-compliant adult sites
Wednesday 19 March 2014 10:30:54 by Andrew Ferguson

Out of sight, out of mind springs to mind having spent some time reading the Culture, Media and Sport Committee report into online safety (so large it comes in two volumes (part I covers the discussion, part II is the evidence presented to the committee).

The report three large areas, child abuse content, adult content and social media. In the arena of child abuse imagery the report acknowledges the clear consensus that cracking down on this area is welcomed by everyone and has global support. The area of adult content is much more contentious, and the UK is taking an increasingly divergent view to some other European countries. The year has seen network based parental controls available from the four largest broadband providers in the UK, but the report makes it clear that this is considered just the first step and much more is being considered.

"ISPA is proud of the role the internet industry has played in tackling illegal content, and over the last year support for the Internet Watch Foundation has grown with significant funding for a new increased proactive role. We are pleased the committee supported our call for Government to properly resource CEOP and those charged with tackling illegal content."

ISPA comments on tacking child abuse content

The report discusses a variety of options to ensure that children (anyone under 18) does not stumble across adult content beyond the current optional filters, including enforcing stricter usage of age verification for sites with adult content, through confirmation of age via possession of a credit card (which may mean some debit cards are inadequate) through to a new personal digital identity management service ran by an independent party that has access to the electoral roll. The difficulty with both is that the Internet is a global party, and how do you force a Dutch site operator to apply these conditions to other EU residents who just happen to use the site in the UK?

The reports answer appears to be more site blocking, i.e. where adult content sites do not adhere to UK policy they are blocked from access by anyone in the UK. Suddenly with this discussion of blocking what is classified as adult content becomes paramount, a great many 18 certificate films that feature no pornography feature scenes that if portrayed in a porn film would see anyone possessing as guilty of owning extreme pornography. There are some voices questioning how useful blocking would be and that includes the IWF.

" Site blocking is highly unlikely to be a suitable approach for adult pornography or violent material much of which is legal (at least if it is unavailable to minors) and which is prevalent on the internet. However, blocking should be considered as a last resort for particularly harmful adult websites that make no serious attempt to hinder access by children. "

Internet Watch Foundation on Site Blocking

If we are not careful the UK is racing towards a scenario where the Internet is a U-certificate environment, and the potential for damage to the digital economy is potentially very large. One simple example, if you turn on the Sky parental controls to the PG level you will suddenly find you are unable to sign into Xbox Live on your games console, the only error message being to check the Internet connection. This is important because to use any of the streaming TV apps on the Xbox you need to be signed into Xbox Live.

The above content blocking example may seem simplistic, but imagine a parent who has purchased a new games console for a teenagers birthday, but has controls set at a level to safeguard younger children. Do they restrict the teenager to only using the games console when the younger children have gone to bed? Do they spend time and possibly money calling the ISP helpline - it is barriers like this that will make the UK look a difficult place to operate as a games developer.


Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
Let's face it, we've been nannied for so long in the UK that personal responsibility is a social crime. The UK is a difficult place for any business to operate (unless it is in the pay of the Government, of course).
Posted by shaunhw over 3 years ago
Welcome to Stalinist Britain.
Posted by GeeTee over 3 years ago
This has become beyond stupid.

Sure, perfectly OK to join the army as a soldier at age 16 (ref: and go to war blowing people up or shooting them etc. But, noooo... it would be wrong to allow the same aged person to see film or entertainment content that ~depicts~ the same thing - that would be harmful to them.
Posted by AndrueC over 3 years ago
@GeeTee: Most countries have their idiosyncrasies. I remember once on a visit to the US watching a film where the broadcaster had no qualms about showing the back of someone's head being blown off (with blood dripping down the wall behind) but bleeped out the swearing from a witness!

And of course according to US TV Americans always wear their underwear when having sex :-/
Posted by andygegg over 3 years ago
'And of course according to US TV Americans always wear their underwear when having sex :-/ '
You mean you don't? This is exactly the sort of filth that right minded adults need to be protected from!
Posted by dgmckenzie over 3 years ago
Well a VPN only costs £13 per year.

Also you can't go to war at 16, think you have to be 18 if memory serves.
Posted by dogbark over 3 years ago
Your wrong about going to war

but right about using a VPN. The Govt wants to block aceess? Who cares :)
Posted by zhango over 3 years ago
Andrew - (part 1) link wrong.
Posted by NetGuy over 3 years ago
Time for a petition, against this madness. Somehow I think *every* gamer would sign up for scrapping any further controls, just based on that XBox example which shows how wrong things can go with such blunt 'yes' 'no' blocking.

Blocking is a dumb 'solution' and I thought OFCOM had checked and found it unsuitable, and would work poorly, but clearly DMCS and others have been sucked in.
Posted by Spud2003 over 3 years ago
So if porn on the Internet is so bad why does the government let terrestrial TV broadcast porn from just after 10PM, unencrypted, across the nation? Isn't it typical for youngsters to have their own TV?

Isn't it about time David Cameron, Claire Perry, the Daily Mail and the other busybodies obsessed by the topic addressed the TV porn elephant in the room?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Oops - have fixed the link. A paste had not worked.
Posted by coyrls over 3 years ago
Now I might be in favour of blocking a TV porn elephant, that sounds really perverse.
Posted by coyrls over 3 years ago
.... and you've got one in your room!
Posted by NetGuy over 3 years ago
@dgmckenzie - I'd appreciate a hiint / link to that VPN provider (or via e-mail to TBBVPN.2014.webuser @ ), if at all possible.
Posted by Tacitus over 3 years ago
Apparently Yahoo are to move their HQ to Dublin, mainly to get away from the chilling effects of GCHQ total surveillance. Regardless of that, I can see more internet companies moving elsewhere since it will simply be too much aggravation to deal with the implications of both surveillance and the impact of filtering.

So much for the "digital economy"
Posted by dgmckenzie over 3 years ago
SlickVPN is ~ £13
Posted by Spud2003 over 3 years ago
>Apparently Yahoo are to move their HQ to Dublin, mainly to get away from the chilling effects of GCHQ total surveillance.

And tax?
Posted by NetGuy over 3 years ago
re SlickVPN - thanks for the info dgmckenzie

re Yahoo and GCHQ - years ago a senior staffer at Clara.Net said that while they'd be unable to confirm or deny existence of any surveillance "black box", if we asked and were not answered, then it was "live". Also said they planned to move mail servers to France, so that at least could not be "tapped" so easily.
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