Diary

Plan to Block all Online Porn

This is a plan being considered in the UK, but it looks like it is going to happen. The focus is not on banning internet porn, but on making it something that the customers of internet services have to opt into, rather than the current system of opting out of it. So if someone wanted the porn, I presume they would just call or log in to their ISP and opt to have the porn turned on.

Broadband firms urged to block sex websites to protect children

Internet service providers are to be asked by the government to tighten up on website pornography to try to combat the early sexualisation of children. Ministers believe broadband providers should consider automatically blocking sex sites, with individuals being required to opt in to receive them, rather than opt out and use the available computer parental controls.

Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, is to meet internet providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, “in the near future” to discuss changing the way pornography enters private homes, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills confirmed. The move is designed to protect children from being exposed to pornography on the net.

“This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that it’s the ISPs that some up with solutions to protect children,” Vaizey told the Sunday Times. I’m hoping they will get their acts together so that we don’t have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years.”

The action follows the success of moves by most British internet providers to prevent people inadvertently viewing child pornography websites. Now ministers want to see adult pornography controlled with similar technology, with sites blocked unless people specifically request access to them. Internet providers had said implementing the scheme would be technically difficult and cost too much. However, some now seem willing to implement the scheme voluntarily.

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I think this is a great idea and that we should consider something like this here in the US. It is a great compromise that might just provide the balance that our society needs on this. Access for those who want it without forcing everyone to inadvertently navigate a sea of unwanted sexual imagery. And I think you could do this without much regulation at all. Congress should work closely with the ISP’s to develop a policy and then pass the bill. If all ISP’s were brought together to implement a scheme like this, then I expect it would not be that hard to do.

Some might bring up the well worn complaints about the difficulty of defining “pornography” in a legal sense. But that would be the beauty of an approach like this. The proposal is not to outlaw porn, or even to charge anything extra to see it. People would just have to “opt in” or it would not be accessible from their computer. This is a great idea! The ISPs could be heavily solicited about their suggestions about the best way to do this in coordination with Congress. As long as they did a pretty good job of it, then they should be allowed to regulate themselves on this. I would not expect that a heavy-handed regulatory approach would be necessary here at all.

This really would probably not even be a very controversial proposal, except perhaps with the porn providers. Let those people bring their lobby to the hill. There will be very few politicians who will want to publicly stand up as advocates for the pornographers with regards to this sort of mild, common sense proposal.

If the UK can do something like this, surely we can too. Let’s do it.