David Cameron announced today that every householder connected to the internet in the UK will have their access to online porn blocked by default, unless they opt-in to receive porn.
In a victory for the Daily Mail, David Cameron will announce the move today among a series of measures cracking down on against the tide of web sleaze.
The Prime Minister will warn that internet pornography – much of it easily accessible to youngsters – is ‘corroding childhood’.
By the end of next year, all 19million UK homes currently connected to the net will be contacted by service providers and told they must say whether family-friendly filters that block all porn sites should be switched on or off.
From the end of this year, all new customers setting up a broadband account or switching provider will have the filters automatically switched on unless they opt to disable them to allow sites with ‘adult content’.
Due to UK pressure, Twitter is to introduce a tagging system to prevent pornographic images being posted on its service.
‘The Daily Mail has campaigned hard to make internet search engine filters “default on”. Today they can declare that campaign a success,’ Mr Cameron said.
‘We are taking action to help clean up the internet and protect a generation of children from often extreme online pornography.’
Other measures being announced by Mr Cameron today include adult content filters on all new mobile phones, a bar on accessing adult content through public wi-fi and calling in Ofcom to regulate industry progress. Internet giants such as Google will be told they have a ‘moral duty’ to do more to stop child abuse images being accessed.
Additionally, Pornography involving simulated rape will be banned both online and offline, and online videos will be subject to the same rules as those sold in sex shops.
There will be stronger powers for watchdogs to investigate the ‘hidden internet’ – heavily encrypted forums and pages that allow abusers to cover their tracks
There has been growing alarm at evidence that a third of children have accessed online pornography by the time they reach ten. Six in ten parents now say they are worried or very worried about their sons and daughters seeing violent and sexual material on the web.
In his landmark speech at the NSPCC, Mr Cameron will say action is more urgent than ever because web access has ‘changed profoundly’ in recent years.
‘Not long ago, access to the internet was mainly restricted to the PC in the corner of the living room, with a beeping dial-up modem, downstairs in the house where parents could keep an eye on things,’ he will say.
Today, there is material freely available that is a ‘direct danger to our children’.
The Prime Minister will add: ‘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.’
Mr Cameron will announce that in future deciding about family-friendly filters will be a required part of the set-up process for installing an internet connection.
When existing web users are contacted, family-friendly filters will be pre-selected. Only an adult will be able to change the filter settings and the account holder will receive a confirmation email. Some ISPs are offering text alerts, in case children hack into the account.
Any adult ignoring the alerts will have filters installed automatically.
‘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,’ Mr Cameron will say.
‘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.
‘But of course, all this just deals with the flow of new customers – those switching service providers or buying an internet connection for the first time. It does not deal with the huge stock of existing customers – almost 19million households. So this is now where we need to set our sights.
‘Following the work we’ve already done with the service providers, they have now agreed to take a big step.
‘By the end of next year, they will have contacted all of their existing customers and presented them with an unavoidable decision about whether or not to install family friendly content filters. TalkTalk, who have shown great leadership on this, have already started.
‘We are not prescribing how the ISPs should contact their customers – it’s up to them to find their own technological solutions. But however they do it, there will be no escaping this decision.
‘And they will ensure it is an adult making the choice.’
‘I’m asking Ofcom, the industry regulator, to oversee this work. If they find that we are not protecting children effectively, I will not hesitate to take further action.’
Mr Cameron will announce further measures to tackle extreme pornography, which depicts violence against women, including simulated rape.
‘These images normalise sexual violence against women – and they are quite simply poisonous to the young people who see them.
“The legal situation is that although it’s been a crime to publish pornographic portrayals of rape for decades, existing legislation does not cover possession of this material – at least in England and Wales.
‘Well I can tell you today we are changing that. We are closing the loophole – making it a criminal offence to possess internet pornography that depicts rape.
‘And we are doing something else to make sure that the same rules apply online as they do offline. There are some examples of extreme pornography that are so bad that you can’t even buy this material in a licensed sex shop. And today I can announce we will be legislating so that videos streamed online in the UK are subject to the same rules as those sold in shops.
‘Put simply – what you can’t get in a shop, you will no longer be able to get online.'
Holly Dustin, of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said:
'We are delighted that David Cameron has responded to the call by experts and women’s groups to ban pornographic images of rape that promote and eroticise violence against women.
'The Coalition Government has pledged to prevent abuse of women and girls, so tackling a culture that glorifies abuse is critical for achieving this.
'The next step is working with experts to ensure careful drafting of the law and proper resourcing to ensure the law is enforced fully.'
DM / The Guardian