Can the Brits put handcuffs on online porn?

A growing movement, supported by the prime minister, is lobbying for online porn to be blocked and opt-in, rather than readily available. Can this possibly come about?

It seems that many in the world are talking responsibility. This is from the ICM Registry. Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Perhaps you have noticed over the years that when you walk into a bookstore, the copies of Playboy are covered in opaque plastic.

This is so that the eyes and minds of the young and sensitive won't be coarsened by the sight of a partially clad human body.

Well, in Britain, quite a few influential souls are trying to so the same with the Internet.

There is a growing movement -- championed by one of liberty's great pillars, the Daily Mail -- to make online porn opt-in, rather than simply available at the twitch of a mouse.

The Prime Minister himself , David Cameron, is getting behind this cleansing spirit with gusto. The idea is that ISPs would block porn, unless you said to them: "Pretty, please. May I have some carnal writhing?"

Technically, the Guardian suggests that it might be a case of simply clicking a box when you sign up with a new ISP. But what if, say, parents would like access for themselves and their children are on the same ISP account?

Some might find the argument that online porn damages children an interesting one, given that there always seems to be less enthusiasm for the idea that, say, online violence might have some unpleasant possibilities.

Those who oppose such measures -- Google and Yahoo, for example -- surely perceive them as the first greasy knoll of a slippery slope. Once the principle of government censorship is set, then successive administrations can crack the whip whenever an issue becomes, say, politically expedient.

I am not sure that there is any conclusive evidence that that Britain's streets are suddenly filled with newly damaged children because of online pornography. There are other, more pressing factors that might influence children harmfully. The education system might be one possibility.

But, as we've mentioned here before , it is surely up to parents to decide what their kids can and cannot watch and do and to educate them in the world's various elements.

Indeed, a U.K. Google exec, Naomi Gummer, reinforced that view recently in a speech.

Somehow, one suspects that enthusiasms such as blocking porn tend to be politically -- rather than socially -- motivated.

In Cameron's case, he is sailing troubled waters, as citizens are increasingly dubbing him as impossibly posh and out of touch. Many are also seeing him as involved with alarming closeness with such currently unpopular enterprises as News Corp.

He is therefore trying to find an issue that might make him a little more at one with those he perceives as his traditional constituency.

Perhaps there will merely be a series of committees and studies and papers penned with no firm result.

However, it has already been established that online access to carnality does have an important place in various parliaments around the world.

Politicians in Italy and Indonesia (an anti-porn crusader, in this case) have already been caught with their pants down. Or, rather seeking others in that literal pose on their iPads. Yes, during parliamentary sessions.

Perhaps the Brits will, should legislation be enacted, make an exemption for politicians, as their needs might be more pressing.

 

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