UK ISPs criticise new attempts to automatically block pornography
4 June 2013 06:25 UK
Jonathan BlakeBy Jonathan Blake
Newsbeat technology reporter
Internet service providers (ISPs) have criticised a new attempt to automatically block online porn.
The proposed Online Safety Bill would require people to opt in and prove they were over 18 to view adult content.
Although unlikely to become law, a government advisor said the bill should “keep up the pressure on” internet service providers.
Companies providing broadband services warned that the approach was “not a silver bullet”.
Conservative MP Claire Perry said ISPs should act without regulation but warned if they didn’t or wouldn’t “then we will have to step in”.
Last year the government rejected an automatic block on internet porn.
A public consultation showed 35% of people who took part were in favour of such a move.
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The four biggest ISPs in the UK are signed up to a code of practice on controlling access to adult content.
BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have agreed to increase awareness of parental controls and give customers “an enforced choice” on whether to use them.
Campaigners say this does not force the ISPs to inform customers who are already signed up.
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It seems to be recognising the problem but not coming up with any real suggestions on how it’s going to work
Andrew Kernahan from the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) said users were being made aware of filters available to them.
“They are being prompted to do something by ISPs,” he said, adding that informing millions of customers was “not a small undertaking”.
Critics say the opt in approach could stop people accessing helpful information on sexual health, abuse and sexual identity.
The adult entertainment industry also appears to be wary of an opt in approach.
Vince Charlton speaks for the adult industry-funded Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP).
Sex motif Online porn sites are worried that a default-on filter could damage their business
“It seems to be recognising the problem but not coming up with any real suggestions on how it’s going to work,” he said.
He suggested companies producing online porn were worried about losing money.
“The industry is a money making industry and anything that stops people joining websites or paying by credit card for websites is going to hit their revenue stream.”
Baroness Howe, who introduced the new legislation, said changes to the law were needed.
She said: “While I recognise that the government has shown an interest in addressing this challenge, it is far from clear to me that their voluntary approach is working or is likely to.”