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By: MarkJ - 20 December, 2010 (1:01 AM)
uk parliament internet censorshipRepresentatives from several major broadband providers, including TalkTalk , BT and Virgin Media UK, will next week meet with the government's Communications Minister, Ed Vaizey, to thrash out the best way of implementing an automatic universal block of internet porn sites.

The moves follows a recent proposal by Claire Perry (Conservative MP for Wiltshire) (here), which called upon all UK ISPs to restrict universal access to pornographic content by implementing an age restricted opt-in system.

Ed Vaizey told the Sunday Times:

"This is a very serious matter. I think it is very important that the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) come up with solutions to protect children. I am hoping they will get their acts together so we don't have to legislate, but we are keeping an eye on the situation and we will have a new communications bill in the next couple of years."

It's worth pointing out that many ISPs already offer Parental Controls and most mobile operators also impose similar restrictions by default, which usually require Credit Card Verification to disable. There are also plenty of third party software solutions available.

Nicholas Lansman, ISPA Secretary General, said:

"ISPA firmly believes that the controls on the access of children to the Internet should be managed by parents and carers with the tools many ISPs provide, rather than being imposed top-down.

ISPA members continue to develop and provide parents with a number of products, controls and solutions to allow them to make informed decisions about what content their children access and if the government feel the need to improve the internet literacy of these parents, ISPA will be at the forefront of disseminating the information through its members. Online safety is a priority issue for the internet industry and ISPA will be discussing the options available to protect children with Government.

Child abuse content, which is illegal and widely regarded as abhorrent, is blocked by the majority of ISPs. Deciding on lawful pornography content to block is less clear cut and will lead to the blocking of access to legitimate content."

Restrictions like this can only ever be skin deep because ISPs are "mere conduits" of information on the internet. As a result there are many ways around ISP level Internet censorship, from anonymous browsing sites to direct proxy servers, VPN and even DNS changes.

Children are often more knowledgeable of such circumvention methods than their parents. ISP controls are ultimately no substitute for good parenting and or simply moving the family computer into your living room.

UPDATE 7:32am

Comments from the Open Rights Group UK.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said:

"This is the wrong way to go. If the government controlled a web blacklist, you can bet that Wikileaks would be on it. This is not about pornography, it is about generalised censorship through the back door."


UPDATE 4:16pm

Added a comment from the ISPA to the articles main text above.
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