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UK households face pornography decision as Cameron cracks down

Prime Minister David Cameron will today announce tough new measures on curbing access to online pornography, with UK households being forced to ‘opt-in’ with their ISP if they still wish to view adult material.

The PM will outline his determination to protect the “innocence” of children in a speech today, along with a raft of new laws which will also illegalise the possession of pornography depicting rape, the BBC (opens in new tab) understands.

Other measures will include subjecting streamed videos to the same restrictions as material sold in shops, ordering search engines to improve their blocking of illegal content by October, the appearance of warning pop-ups with helpline numbers when users try to search for illegal content, extra powers being given to child protection groups to examine file-sharing networks, and the introduction of a secure database containing banned child porn images gathered by the police to help trace paedophiles.

Conservative MP Claire Perry, the PM’s advisor on the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood, told the BBC that households will be contacted by their ISP and asked whether they want to activate “family friendly filters” to restrict access to adult content. If the respondent does not actively decide against applying the restrictions or fails to answer, the filters will be introduced by default.

Cameron is concerned that current levels of access to online pornography are "corroding childhood".

The BBC expects his speech to read, "I want to talk about the internet, the impact it is having on the innocence of our children, how online pornography is corroding childhood. And how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.

"I'm not making this speech because I want to moralise or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence."

The UK’s major ISPs may well look to adapt or tone down the government’s measures to avoid accusations of outright censorship. Web companies have been locked in talks with Whitehall throughout the year and recently tried to move toward a consensus at a Downing Street summit (opens in new tab).

Will began working life as a technology journalist at ITProPortal as Senior Staff Writer. He's worked as a Copywriter, then Creative Lead across video, social, email, web and print. He is currently a Senior Content Strategist at Zone.