Parliamentary Inquiry finds more energetic approach in online porn issue necessary, ISPs strike back with freedom of speech and consumer education arguments.
According to an Independent Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection in April 2012, â€œmany feel that device-level filters are no longer offering sufficient protection for children online. Only a minority of parents use these filters and this number is falling.â€ The proposalsâ€™ authors admit that â€œmandatory government censorship of internet pornographyâ€ would be â€œdifficult and wrongâ€. Their alternative suggestion is the implementing of a network-level â€œOpt-Inâ€ system to be maintained by ISPs. This would ensure â€œa clean internet feed to customersâ€ while preserving consumersâ€™ choice to receive adult content.Â The document is the result of a cross-party Inquiry that brought together more than 60 members of both Houses of the British Parliament â€œto examine the current state of online child protection and review the arguments for and against network-level filteringâ€.
According to the Findings Summary section of the document, though the four major British ISPâ€™s recent efforts to develop a new Code of Conduct and to implement new Active Choice controls beginning with October 2012 (which would leave device-level filter installation at consumersâ€™ discretion) are taking things into the right direction, â€œa more energetic approachâ€ is necessary. Hence, the network-level â€œOpt-inâ€ system is pushed as the better alternative.
In an official statement on the matter, Britainâ€™s ISPA qualifies network-level adult content filtering â€œ[â€¦] neither the most effective, nor most appropriate way to prevent access to inappropriate material onlineâ€.Â The ISPA provides reasons having to do with the relative ease with which the system can be circumvented, its influence on parentsâ€™ â€œactive interestâ€ in childrenâ€™s online safety and, ultimately with freedom of speech.
This new episode in the Government versus private sector battle points out, once again, that educating consumers is preferable to any form of censorship.