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Friday, April 13, 2012

Draft Online Safety Bill to block pornographic sites in UK

A new idiotic bill proposed to the House of Lords by Baroness Howe of Ildicote, requires ISPs and mobile operators to "provide a service that excludes pornographic images" and electronic device manufacturers to include ways to filter content at the point of purchase.

If enacted, the Online Safety Bill will force ISPs to prevent access of their customers to pornographic images unless those customers, aged over 18 actively “opt-in” to access the respective material by telling "the service provider of his or her consent to subscribe to a service that includes pornographic images". The ISPs may deny the customers option unless the website featuring the images "has an age verification policy which has been used to confirm that the subscriber is aged 18 or over".

The proposal is a Private Members Bill, which needs the Government's support. Yet, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has already said it would not support the bill. "Much can be achieved through self-regulation and it can be more effective than a regulatory approach in delivering flexible solutions that work for both industry and consumers,” stated DCMS spokesman.

Also, a trade industry body representing UK ISPs told that it was against the proposed legislation. "ISPA does not believe there is a need for legislation on this issue as there is healthy competition in the industry and ISPs are responsive to consumer demands. The Bailey Report published last year also acknowledged that 'industry already does much to help educate parents about parental controls, age-restriction and content filters'. Government should concentrate on helping educate consumers to ensure they know about the tools already available to them to restrict unwanted content," said a spokesperson for the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) who added that "Filtering by default will only reduce the degree of active interest and parental mediation, lull parents into a false sense of security and lead to over blocking. The question also arises of who decides what is pornographic and what is not."