UK Government urges porn site age checks

The race in the UK is on to secure votes in the forthcoming elections. Two major parties usually make up the majority of votes in the United Kingdom with the Conservatives and Labour being the two biggest parties. As with any political campaign anywhere in the world when an election is on the horizon many claims are made about what the winning party will do should they gain power.

Stop! ID please.

Step forward the Conservative government who up until the election campaign were in government in a power sharing deal with the third largest party the Liberal Democrats. Their latest manifesto claim should they retain the power of government is to require porn or adult sites to do better age checks. While this in theory is a great idea it is also unworkable as was previously introduced adult filtering and also removes responsibility from parents.

Adult filterWhile I wholeheartedly agree something needs to be done to protect children from accessing inappropriate material on the internet there also needs to be greater education towards parents who allow their children free access to the internet without monitoring. Lets not confuse this issue with children accidentally stumbling upon porn, this is the question of stopping children from accessing it directly.

In any stage of a child’s life especially in the early years parents are the responsible adults who should monitor and control to some extent what their children do and how much access they have to it. No parent would allow a child free access to a sweet shop without monitoring, no parent would allow a child free access to the fridge or biscuit tin within their own home so why is it acceptable that many children have free and unrestricted access to the internet?

Good parents regularly restrict what their children can watch on TV, restrict what type of games they can play yet the internet is left either unrestricted or in the hands of some censorship filter dreamed up by the government.

Parents know porn exists

Young parents of today are more and more likely to have grown up with the internet. Nearly all users of the internet are aware there is an adult side, a murky side and even a darker side so when aimed with that knowledge why would anyone allow unrestricted internet access to a minor? Not least because adult content is widely available but also because of more sinister threats such as online predators.

The Conservatives were the party that introduced compulsory adult filtering checks on all major internet service providers in the UK. This was carried out at first by asking new internet subscribers to select options about what type of content they wanted to allow on their connection and then followed by rolling this out to all current subscribers.

This itself was a terrible idea and if it wasn’t then why after introducing it are the government now requiring adult sites to do further checks? Surely the home adult filters should be working to prevent access already?

Virgin Web Safe

ISP Adult Filter

Not all parents buy government spiel

Adult filtering in the UK started at the end of 2013 and was widely in place across all major ISPs throughout 2014. I wrote previously about the ISP BT who were one of the first to introduce a family filter and how this method of protection was flawed. The article itself is one of the most visited on our website with many readers backing up the idea that a technological filter is no replacement for good parenting.

Don’t worry, there are far more people who feel it is irresponsible for parents to expect someone else to take responsibility for what their children get up to on the internet.

I couldn’t agree more that the BT parental controls are a bad idea

I do wonder whether certain “parties” involved have helped in putting this through are seeing a way to allow easy censorship

So while the idea in theory from the Conservative party is commendable one has to question how workable it is in reality and if the family filters introduced in the last few years were such a good idea then why the need for further measures now?

Where does UK censorship end

Targeting a large audience such as the parenting group is a good political move and possibly one to try and win voters. Are these further measures a sign that the original family filter plan was flawed like many envisaged and warned about and if the Conservative party do win power in the May 2015 UK elections and carry out this promise how in reality is it ever going to work?

There are far too many flaws in making such a system work from international adult sites that won’t cooperate, anonymous networks such as TOR, encryption system such as VPNs plus a whole host of other possibilities to circumvent any blocks or restrictions.

The UK is slowly sleepwalking in to heavy censorship online being dictated by the government and it is a position I am starting to feel extremely uncomfortable about being in. In the name of the protection of children will TOR, VPNs and a host of other privacy measures also be outlawed?

The only true and effective protection for children online is when parents take responsibility and monitor their children’s internet use in locations where they can see what is being done. Rather than the government investing in ineffective technological solutions perhaps the money would be better spent on an education platform for parents on how to protect and monitor their children’s usage detailing the various bypasses and back doors that children have always been ever so good at discovering even before the internet existed.

If children really want to find a way to do something, the usually will. Education is the key to informing children about the perils of pornographic material followed up by monitoring by adults to ensure that message was clear.