David Cameron Announces Porn "Opt-In" Measure for British Internet Users

Credit: Tom Stefanac/wikimediaCredit: Tom Stefanac/wikimediaBritish Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that British households that use the internet will have to opt-in if they want to access pornography online thanks to a measure that will be fully implemented by the end of next year. 

The move is intended to crack down on what Cameron called the “corroding” influence of pornography on children.

Cameron discussed the changes in a speech that also outlined other measures aimed at protecting children which include banning the possession of “extreme pornography” and the creation of a list of “abhorrent” search terms that will be used to identify paedophiles.

From The Guardian:

The prime minister's speech is designed to answer critics who accuse him of talking tough but failing to take action. In the most significant step he will outline detailed plans to limit access to pornography.

The Daily Mail, which has been running a campaign to crack down on pornography online, reported that the prime minister will say: "By the end of this year, when someone sets up a new broadband account the settings to install family-friendly filters will be automatically selected. If you just click 'next' or 'enter', then the filters are automatically on.

"And, in a really big step forward, all the ISPs have rewired their technology so that once your filters are installed, they will cover any device connected to your home internet account. No more hassle of downloading filters for every device, just one-click protection. One click to protect your whole home and keep your children safe.

"Once those filters are installed, it should not be the case that technically literate children can just flick the filters off at the click of a mouse without anyone knowing. So we have agreed with industry that those filters can only be changed by the account holder, who has to be an adult. So an adult has to be engaged in the decisions."

Two important points are worth considering aside from the obvious censorship and privacy issues.

Firstly, it is far from clear that a crackdown on access to pornography will necessarily reduce the incidence of rape or sexual assault in the U.K. or that pornography has a "corroding" effect on children. In fact, as Ron Bailey has pointed out, while in the U.S. access to pornography has increased over recent years the rate of rape and sexual assault has been going down. In 2007, Steve Chapman mentioned a paper in an article on the relationship between pornography and sexual violence that showed that the states that expanded internet access the fastest were the states where rape declined the most.

According to British government statistics the prevalence of sexual assault (including attempts) among men and women between the ages of 16 and 59 in England and Wales has decreased from 1.7 percent being victims at least once in 2004/05 to 1.6 percent being victims at least once in 2011/12. In those years (2004 - 2012) it did not become harder for children or adults to access pornography in the U.K.

Credit: Ministry of JusticeCredit: Ministry of Justice

Secondly, there are reasons to believe that Cameron's measures will be ineffective and will inevitably involve mistakes being made. David Meyer of GigaOM has written up a good analysis of what technical problems could be seen as this opt-in service is introduced, perhaps the most obvious being that the restrictions Cameron wants in place will not be hard for children to bypass. 

Read Cameron’s speech in full here.

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  • Archduke Trousersenthusiast||

    I expect the list of "opt-in" households to be published publicly so that Britons will be able to tell who their perverted neighbours are.

  • Matrix||

    I used to work for DirecTV customer service more than 10 years ago. I remember a man claiming to be a pastor at a church calling me about his account. There weren't any bill disputes or anything. I think he was just moving to another residence or something. I noticed several PPV porn purchases on his account. Now, imagine if someone wanted to make the information public to shame him?

    I remember getting a call from a rep for a famous evanglist. No porn on the account, but there were a lot of WWF (at the time) events that he his account had bought. I thought that was quite humorous.

    Someone I worked with got a call from a rep of a famous actor to go over stuff with his account. This actor always paid for PPV showings of his own movies.

  • Outlaw||

    So who's the actor? What letters do his first and last names start with?

  • Raston Bot||

    A lot of World Wildlife Fund events? That pussy.

  • ||

    I guess Tom Cruise.

  • Matrix||

    nope.

    This guy is a comedic actor, who used to do stand up.

  • Robert||

    If it's Steve Martin, what do you expect? Those are good movies to watch any time, even if you're very familiar with them.

  • Matrix||

    Ron Bailey has pointed out, while in the U.S. access to pornography has increased over recent years the rate of rape and sexual assault has been going down.
    Yeah, but I'm sure the prevalence of rape porn and other simulated assault acts have been going up. And those are just as bad or worse, 'cause PATRIARCHY!

    /femtard

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

    Debbie Does Wild!

    "Order now, the power of Debbie's breasts compels you"

  • Longtorso, Johnny||

  • Rasilio||

    "Cameron discussed the changes in a speech that also outlined other measures aimed at protecting children which include banning the possession of “extreme pornography” and the creation of a list of “abhorrent” search terms that will be used to identify paedophiles."

    ROTFL like the internet will not come up with new phrases to tag that stuff with 30 seconds after that law is passed

  • ||

    I wonder how many innocent people will get caught up in that. If you're thinking about something, don't dare even googling it.

  • Damned Fool||

    The Government responded yesterday to allegations that terms such as "free speech," "republicanism," "due process," and "personal freedom," as well as the names of several opposition candidates, had been added to the list of blacklisted search terms that automatically returned no results.

    "I was just as shocked as anyone to receive this news," Prime Minister David Cameron announced to reporters at a press conference held at noon on Downing Street. "My government only learned about it on the evening news, the same as the rest of the country."

    Early reports say that two low-level employees may be responsible for the scandal.

    US President Barack Obama chimed in to defend the Prime Minister: "This is a fake scandal generated by Koch-supported civil libertarians. It is a false choice to say that we cannot have both a free and transparent nation and heavy-handed moralizing coupled with the occasional breaking of eggs to make omelets. Um, let me be clear... I am signing an executive order to implement the exact same steps in the United States. Otherwise, the terrorists win."

  • ||

    So, Cameron has just stated that the entirety of the British parental class is incapable of supervising and teaching their children.

  • Hyperion||

    I hear that he's close to Melissa Harris Perry.

  • Anders||

    I object to this on multiple grounds.

    - Government Nanny State Intrusion
    - Guaranteed Government Incompetence (as if they'll implement this properly)
    - Pandering to a scandalous crappy newspaper
    - Being lectured on morality by David Cameron

    This is better handled as a family issue.

    For instance, I have keyloggers installed on my childrens devices, can track them via GPS, have access to all their social media accounts, email accounts, logs of all their internet activity, and I've also hacked their phones.

    I'm still working on the analytics software to process all of this but then so is NSA.

  • ||

    Somehow I managed to grow up with the internet without my parents taking any of those measures.

  • some guy||

    But look at how you turned out. I mean... ugh.

  • Hyperion||

    Not to worry. Soon enough all the limeys will be in burqas and the only porn available there will be of Muhammed Camelfuker Ali, arse raping some sheep.

  • Enough About Palin||

    I'm not gonna lie to ya...

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Randy Marsh: Well, y-you see, when a-when a man and a woman fall in love, the-the man puts his penis in the woman's vagina. It's called lovemaking and it's part of being in love.
    Token Williams: [after a long silence] And when the woman has four penises in her at the same time, then stands over the men and pees on them, is that part of being in love too?
    [another silence]
    Token Williams: Five midgets, spanking a man covered with 1000-isles dressing. Is that making love?
    Token's Dad: [Aghast] Jesus, what kind of porno was that?
    Gerald Broflovski: It was "Backdoor Sluts #9".
    Token's Dad: Oh Jesus, not that one!

  • Matrix||

    Butters: My precious...

  • Dave Krueger||

    If the box is already checked and you have to take action to uncheck it, then it's not an opt-in program. It's an opt-out program.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    You're right. It's a built in porn filter with an opt-out option.

  • Hyperion||

    And as soon as you opt-out, you go on 'the list'.

  • ||

    The limeys have a long history of censorship and attempting to curb the...uh...baser instincts of the people. It's never worked, but gosh darn it, they'll do so again anyway! And it'll do nothing, as always. Go limey government!

  • Doctor Whom||

    What's that thing called again when you do the same thing over and over again in the hope that you'll finally get a different result? Oh, yeah, government.

  • Hyperion||

    I'm still convinced that there is a contest between the Limeys and Aussies to see who can create the most retarded government.

  • Floridian||

    Hey, don't count the USA out. When we put our minds to it we are capable of some truly astonishing feats.

  • ||

    Hey, don't leave the Canadians out.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yeah but they have naked boobies on broadcast TV, and that makes them superior or something.

  • ||

    I have HBO and Showtime, so I get all the boobies I want.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Yeah, but you had to pay for that. The Brits just pay their $225 per year per TV and they get their naked boobies for free!

  • Zeb||

    After 10 PM. I think that you could do that in the US as well, but advertisers don't like it. Maybe I'm just thinkin gof swearing.

  • Enough About Palin||

    I plan to opt-in. Way in.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    That skanky keyboard requires some alt-text.

    Perhaps there should be an opt-out alt-text policy.

  • Auric Demonocles||

    Bravo.

  • LynchPin1477||

    The irony here is that British women, on average, have the largest breasts.

  • SugarFree||

    Boobs.

  • Agammamon||

    Oooh yeay! That's such a dirty keyboard.

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