Tory Porn Block Encroaches Further on Internet Freedoms and Parental Responsibility

Tristan Kitchin December 16, 2013 21
Tory Porn Block Encroaches Further on Internet Freedoms and Parental Responsibility

We reported back in July of David Cameron’s plan to implement an on by default opt-out porn filter nationwide, and how naïve his plans were. Cameron’s line was if ISPs did not voluntarily block access to adult content by default, new legislation would be implemented that would force them to do so.

ISPs have so far been reluctant to block adult content, rarely censoring anything without court order. The UK’s largest ISP however, BT Broadband, has decided to take the initiative and is following Cameron’s advice, revealing last Friday its plans to introduce an on by default porn filter for new customers signing up to its services.

When setting up a connection for the first time new customers will have these parental controls enabled by default, and will have to actively confirm they want to opt out should they not want BT’s filters active on their Internet connection. Any user who does not opt out during the set up process will see the range of content accessible through their broadband connection severely limited.

BT may believe it is doing what is best for children, and David Cameron will undoubtedly take the company’s plans as a big win. Implementing such a filter, and by default, is not the best way to go about protecting children online however.

With uProxy, a plugin developed by Google, it will be simple to bypass any block put in place by an ISP or the government.

With uProxy, a plugin developed by Google, it will be simple to bypass any block put in place by an ISP or the government.

First off, children of today are extremely tech-savvy; they likely know more about how the Internet works than you do, and definitely much more than Mr Cameron. Internet filters are extremely simple to bypass; all you need is access to a proxy, which are available in abundance. Soon, access to a proxy wont even be necessary; with uProxy, a plugin developed by Google, access to the entire internet will be possible without any hiccups and there is nothing a porn block can do about it.

It must also be noted Internet filters are well-known to be generally very poor at what they are designed to do; unsafe content will slip through the blockade. Furthermore, child-protection filters have been known to be over-zealous and will regularly filter out legitimate and safe websites; a recent study found a third of WiFi hotspots throughout the UK were actually blocking non-pornographic webpages as a result of such filters, including sexual education, video streaming, and religious websites.

BT’s new default parental filters will only serve to make ill-informed parents complacent when it comes to protecting their children online, especially considering pornographic images are not by any standard the worst thing a minor can view on the Internet. The best line to take when it comes to a child’s safety online is not implementing a nationwide filter, but education. Teaching parents the importance of being aware of what their children browse online is infinitely better than simply putting in place a filter that has no guarantee of working as described.

There are a number of ways parents can better supervise their child’s browsing habits; simply keeping the PC in the living room in order to keep a closer eye on them would be a good first step. Unable to do that? Look at their browsing history from time to time; it is relatively easy to access through any browser. Still worried? Install a third party Internet filter, such as the ones offered by the likes of Norton or McAfee; they will undoubtedly function more effectively than any block set up by BT or the government, and will give those installing it much more control over the filters being implemented on their Internet connection.

The Tories, the party of individual responsibility, wants to implement nanny state measures in an area they really do not have a clue. Even worse, they’re threatening ISPs with legislative measures should they not take the initiative. The responsibility of keeping minors safe online lies with the parent; they shouldn’t rely on the government, David Cameron, or BT to do their job for them. Uninformed parents will trust this system to keep their child safe online, but as already noted Internet filters do not always work as intended, and are extremely easy to bypass. They’re named parental controls for a reason; maybe it is time parents took control?

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  • John M

    Of course this is none of the Government’s business and of course it is the parent’s responsibility, but at the same time it is rather naieve to suggest that is not how modern politics works.

    Our modern crop of Politicians are by and large so desperate to fill tomorrow’s papers with “something”, so utterly bereft of ideas, so unable to leave anything alone if it thinks it will get them 10 minutes of praise in the Daily Mail, that nothing is off limits any more.

    Today it’s the turn of the “slave trade”. No matter than until a few weeks ago nobody really knew about it, or even cared. A few cases inclusing that one where ONE COUPLE imprisoned three women for thirty years and suddenly the entire machinery of Westminster is rushing to a new “anti slavery bill” – even though it’s already illegal!

    Something must be done! Something must be done! We are acting! Don’t panic! It’s like watching f**king Clive Dunn on Dad’s Army running around panicking.

  • Jen The Blue

    John M is absolutely correct.
    All LibLabCon Party politicians are frankly. low calibre cretins obsessed by “doing something”. Not one of them ever thinks of the unintended consequences or the philosophy behind their actions.

  • Keir

    This all assumes (this article as well as Cameron/BT) that porn is bad for children. However, the severe lack of evidence for that makes the claim questionable, to say the least. There is no suggestion whatsoever that porn harms anyone – so why should it be blocked?

    I really don’t see the benefit in teaching kids to be ashamed of their own bodies and of sex, a perfectly natural thing that virtually everyone desires and experiences.

    Hell, I personally think porn can be beneficial to young people as an avenue of exploring themselves. Without porn, it would have taken me many, many more years to realise my sexuality, so for me porn was genuinely beneficial in more than just satisfying urges.

    Cameron said that porn “distorts” children’s view of what sex is – but for that to be true, there must be a ‘proper’ way to have sex, which is an absolutely ludicrous thing to be saying in this day and age. It’s disgusting to think the government has a grip on its people’s sexualities.

    • Daven

      Do you think that porn is representative of sex in real life? I think the overwhelming majority would say no, and in this way it can distort a child’s view of sex.
      I don’t agree with the bill either as I think it should be the other way around – you ‘opt’ to have it blocked rather than having it unblocked – but I don’t think it takes much to see how harmful it can be if kids are exposed to it who don’t have a previous understanding of sex.

      • Keir

        Why does it matter if it’s not representative of “real” sex? You’re entitled to have sex in whatever way you like. How on earth does that make it harmful? Driving in films might not be the same as driving in real life, but I wouldn’t say that’s harmful. Wanting to have sex in a way that most people don’t have, is NOT a bad thing, it’s perfectly fine.

        And I happen to think that porn is indeed representative of sex in real life. Maybe you just haven’t watched much porn, since it covers pretty much everything. Certainly all the sex I’ve had is represented in the porn I watch.

        • Daven

          Of course you can have sex how you like. My point is if it isn’t representative of ‘real’ sex then people are going to get an inaccurate impression of what sex is like in the real world. Porn is different from real sex because porn is done for the cameras and the person beating off over it has no real connection to the people on the screen. That’s the main thing.
          ‘Maybe you just haven’t watched enough porn’
          No, maybe not. Maybe if I watch more porn I will be more enlightened. I’d rather just have sex though. Lol.

          • Keir

            But you’re missing my point. Completely. I’m questioning how you define “real” sex. I’ve found porn to be pretty accurate in representing real sex. And why would you need to have a connection to the people in porn? You think that you have to have a connection with someone in order to have sex with them? “Lol.” indeed.

          • Daven

            I’m not sure you can have sex without connecting with them, even if just physically. Not so with porn though.

            On the point about porn being anything like real life, maybe our experiences are different. There’s not much to say about that,

          • Keir

            That’s exactly what I’m saying – you can’t really generalise porn because it’s so vast and so different; if you haven’t watched porn that’s like the sex you’ve had then “maybe you haven’t watched enough porn”. See? :)

          • Daven

            Porn is about watching people have sex. Sex is having sex. The entire experience is different, regardless of what the porn is like and how realistic it is.

            It’s like saying an extremely realistic WW2 film is comparable to being in WW2.

          • Keir

            That’s a strange comparison given that we were discussing the representation of sex, not whether watching porn is actually sex.

          • Daven

            I am discussing the blurring of the lines in the eyes of people watching porn with no experience of what sex is actually like.

        • Poosh

          You’ve been part of a 1000 man bukakke? *high five*

          Porn representin’

      • plasmacutter

        Most media is not representative of real life.

        How about we ban WoW because it teaches kids it’s ok to kill.. your victim only has to run back to his corpse?

        • Daven

          Most media can be damaging for exactly those reasons, because people can think that they are representative. This is why advertising works, and why the marketing sections of companies hire psychologists so they can better take advantage of people’s insecurities. If there was no overlap between what you see on a screen and your conception of real life, then advertising would not be an industry worth billions.

          • Daven

            I am, by the way, not against porn in itself and people having access to it. I think it’s ignorant to think that it can’t be harmful though. Like many things..

          • plasmacutter

            what gives you the right to deny someone else choice because YOU think it’s harmful? We’re supposed to live in the “free world” where people have the right to do anything if there’s no “victim”.

          • Daven

            Erm, I don’t claim a right deny someone else’s choice. In fact, I actually say in my initial post that I disagree with the bill.

    • Poosh

      Of course porn is harmful – how is that even debatable in your mind? It’s harmful to adults, let’s not even talk about children. But an adult is deemed mature enough and his brain is no longer malleable by outside stimulus as a child or teen is, to make those decisions and react both rationally and morally to the content (i.e women are not sex objects, sex is for ADULTS not children or teens). It’s not ok for a teen or child to have sex or think it is normal for them to do so, yes some still do but don’t lead them to it or allow them to come into contact with material which might allow them to draw a positive conclusion. It is the sexualisation of children which porn does (to their selves, not by an ‘other’ as that would be pedophilia which has nothing to do with this subject) which is a threat, indeed to the child’s freedom to be her or his own person without minimal negative powers shaping her or his mind outside one’s control. Do you really think boys watching porn won’t seek out what they see on screen to an even greater extent than if let to their own devices? And how many girls were forced, so to speak, into having sex before they were ready because they and the males thought it was “acceptable and normal” ’cause, you know, porn says it’s ok. I mean, if you’re happy with kids and teens watching this sort of thing, being sexualised and probably having sex then you won’t mind ten 14 year old boys ******* your 14 year old daughter eh? Just exploring her sexuality, right?

      Knowing how to kill a man is not harmful either, if you kill the right person at the right time. We assume adults can deal with such stimulus rationally and morally but expecting a child at a delicate age, or a teen, to absorb this information and react in the same manner as an adult (which is impossibly biologically) is wishful thinking. Only a small number of teens are actually mature in any meaningful way.

      Or perhaps some simply do not realise what “porn” is on the internet. It’s not just “page 3″ stuff….

      Of course, if you’ve given your kid or teen free reign on the internet you really are a bad parent. It is a violation of my rights (i suppose if they can arrest people for talking on Twitter in the UK then we have no rights at all), this entire fascist like filter – even the obvious “well ask if the buyer has a child under 18 and THEN enact the filter which won’t work if they respond that they do” is not being put on the table despite it’s blatant logic.

      • plasmacutter

        ” But an adult is deemed mature enough and his brain is no longer malleable by outside stimulus as a child or teen is”

        If this is your measure of maturity, I hope you never enter office or have any power over anyone. Those who demonstrate the capacity to shift their views to adapt to reality around them, whose brains are “malleable by outside stimulus”, are far better off than authoritarian dolts intent upon forcing their rigid world-views on others.

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