Major internet firms invited to content policing discussion by DCMS
Ed Vaizey has said that 'Britain will have the most robust internet child protection measures of any country in the world, bar none' back in January, but it seems convincing the various commercial operators involved to share the same vision and actually implement things is proving more difficult.
Recent events have meant that the policing of online content is very much back in the political spotlight, both from the terrorist viewpoint and ensuring that children are not exposed to adult content, and that adults cannot access illegal child abuse material online.
The UK through the work of the IWF already has a strong mechanism in place to ensure that child abuse content is not hosted in the UK and Internet providers can subscribe to a blocking list so that even where overseas content is not blocked providers can block access to the pages.
Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook, BT, Virgin, Talk Talk, Vodafone, Sky, O2, EE and Three have all now been invited to a DCMS meeting on the 17th June to discuss ways to improve blocking and police harmful content online.
The usual story is that government and concerned bodies will call for operators to do more, and the operators are likely to outline what they already do which from some coverage we have read it seems many are not aware of. Additionally the same problems that usually appear in comments about how easy it is to get around blocks will arise and with more blocking there will be more sites blocked by mistake.
Parents have access to many resources if they are worried about the content available online such as https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents and even these resources highlight the problems of blocking that even amongst children there are different levels of advice and potential blocking that are needed, which is one major issue with what seems like a straight forward idea of have network level filters, as families will need to either be changing them all the time as different people use a device, or everyone is restricted to an Internet with no search engines, no online shopping etc.
One aspect that needs to be considered and is rarely mentioned, is that if we do lock down the Internet in the UK, are we running the risk of driving curious teenagers towards the darker side of the net. Or more likely they will borrow a credit card from a parents wallet and use that to verify themselves online leading to a rise in scam sites that promise illicit adult content in exchange for a credit card verfication but are really a front for collecting millions of card details for onward sale to fraudsters.