UK Prime Minister picks a fight with Internet porn

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David Cameron, British prime minister. AP

Imagine a world where there's no porn on your Internet. Now, since that proved impossible, check out UK Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to evaporate all porn from the Internet by asking people to vote "yes" or "no" on porn.

Basically, the idea is that the UK will ask every person with an Internet connection whether or not he or she would like to have access to pornographic material. If the person wants porn, then "wheeee." If the person elects not to have pornography available through the Internet, then the UK will work in conjunction with Internet service providers to give you a "family friendly Wi-Fi" experience.

A joint British and American “task force” will be created to tackle obscene websites, while Google and other search engine providers will be required to draw up a “blacklist” of the most depraved and illegal search terms, the Prime Minister will announce.

The initiatives will also include new measures to stop children accidentally stumbling across explicit but legal pornographic images in public places, according to well-placed sources. The six biggest companies providing access to wireless internet in cafés and railway stations have all signed a deal to block legal pornography where children could view it. The roll-out of “family friendly Wi-Fi” is expected to begin from the end of August. [The Telegraph]

Really, though, the notion is pretty unrealistic. The folks at Mirror and The Guardian have already taken to dismantling the initiative.

Default-on is a system whereby internet service providers block access to pornographic images as standard, unless the customer opts out of the filters. In the eyes of certain newspapers, it is the silver bullet solution to the problem of kids watching pornography. But, for various reasons, most of the major ISPs are not up for asking their customers: "Do you want porn with that?" They have negotiated with the government and agreed on a system called "Active Choice +" in which customers opt in for filters, rather than out for falling bras. The system gives new users a choice at installing filters, and existing customers the option of switching to safer browser modes. The default setting remains filter-free.

The leaked letter, sent to leading ISPs from the Department for Education, makes it clear that Cameron's war or porn is propaganda masquerading as policy. It suggests: "Without changing what you will be offering (ie active-choice +), the prime minister would like to be able to refer to your solutions [as] 'default-on'". It is a sleight-of-hand worthy of the Ministry of Truth, a move from the "Let's not and say we did!" school of regulation. [The Guardian]

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