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David Cameron Mulls “Opt-In” Pornography Policy

The pornography censorship debate has taken another twist, as the Prime Minister has decided to hold a consultation on forcing major UK ISPs to adopt an "opt-in" filtering policy for adult material.

The opt-in policy means that pornographic content will be blocked by default, and anyone wishing to view such material will have to contact their ISP and ask for it to be enabled (opting in to view pornography, basically).

This represents something of a reversal of course for the government, as it was previously reported that Culture Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, was against an opt-in system, and in favour of an "active decision" scheme (where customers are automatically asked, upon setting up an account, whether or not they want adult content blocked).

However, it would seem that David Cameron is bowing to pressure applied by a recent cross-party inquiry and an ensuing Daily Mail campaign to initiate this consultation, which will apparently take the form of an independent review of the various filtering options.

MP Claire Perry, who headed up last month's inquiry, said of the development: "The fact we have got No 10 acknowledging the issue is really encouraging. Internet service providers with the exception of TalkTalk have been laggardly in this area.

"We need to get them to acknowledge, stop equivocating and stop talking a load of flannel. We know the [current] model is failing [and] we need them to acknowledge there is a problem, and we need to do that quickly."

She added: "I think opt-in is simple and a measure that everyone can understand. I have an open mind, but I believe this offers the best level of protection and preserves choice."

We fail to see what isn't simple about the active decision system, however, which doesn't impose blanket censorship by default.

As the Open Rights Group's head, Jim Killock, noted: "We welcome a consultation, but default filters are awful.

"They block a wide range of innocent material, and nobody should be advocating broader and simpler censorship. All the independent evidence has pointed to giving parents simple tools and choices. There is no need to create network level censorship in the name of a porn opt-in."

ISPs, too, are wary of the push for default censorship.

Nicholas Lansman, secretary general of ISPA, issued a statement to say: "We welcome the opportunity to discuss the detail of any proposals. It will provide some much needed clarity to the debate and provide an opportunity to re-focus the argument on protecting children from inappropriate content rather than concentrating solely on default filtering."

We have a feeling the government probably hasn't changed its stance, but feels a consultation is a good PR move in the light of recent campaigns such as the Mail's. We shall see in due course...

Source: The Guardian