Following Claire Perry’s campaign for porn prohibition, the Department of Education has now launched a consultation on parental internet controls. For those of you unaware of the policy proposals, it is something we should be concerned about as it poses a very real threat to our internet freedoms.
This year, Perry held an independent inquiry on online child protection. The report, released in April, recommended that internet users who wish to view pornography should have to opt-in to it. In other words, there should be default blocking of legal content by internet service providers unless users request this block be turned off.
From a technical point of view, the introduction of a default adult content filter will be a blunt instrument to deal with the issue. The blocking of websites is not an easy or failsafe solution. The inevitable unintended consequence of over-blocking will impact users and businesses, not to mention the very children themselves who use the internet for school work and entertainment. Even Ofcom has a number of concerns regarding the efficacy of website blocking. There is no end of legitimate technical reasons not to block websites and such arguments are what ultimately brought down the SOPA bill in the USA earlier this year.
Technical issues aside, there is a greater problem with these proposals: that the government thinks it can tell parents what to do. Parents, and not government-mandated regulation, should decide how to raise their own children and educate them about the benefits and risks of being online. Any suggestions otherwise amounts to outright arrogance. The very idea that a select group of bureaucrats know how to raise children better than their families do is nothing short of outrageous.
In my paper on parental-led solutions to child protection online, published today, I outline the various options already available in the market. The options in this list will allow parents, and not the government, to make decisions for their own families.
Dominique Lazanski is a senior fellow at the Adam Smith Institute.Tags: Internet, UK politics