David Cameron considering 'opt-in' online policy

The PM is considering introducing filters that block adult content online by default.

Prime minister David Cameron is considering a controversial 'opt-in' plan for Internet usage. Expect a monumental clash of heads between him and the Internet service providers soon.

Cameron will consult in the coming weeks on whether ISPs should block adult content by default. If they did, anyone browsing in search of something deemed to be 'adult content' would need to 'opt in' to do so, The Guardian reports.

This follows a parliamentary inquiry into protecting children online , which warned explicit material was having a harmful effect on the young. It was chaired by Conservative MP Claire Perry. Perry has led the campaign for regulation, arguing the Internet shouldn't be treated any differently from TV, radio or advertising.

"I think opt-in is simple and a measure that everyone can understand," Perry said. "I have an open mind, but I believe this offers the best level of protection and preserves choice."

Cameron's consultation is expected to be an independent review of the options available for filtering porn online. Critics will argue it amounts to censorship, as well as pointing to the difficulties of regulating online. A spokesperson from the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) said it would oppose filtering on the basis that it was easy to get around.

We'll have to wait and see what the consultation throws up, but opt-in is bound to be controversial and highly problematic to implement. What counts as adult content? And who decides? The minute you block a site, another 20 spring up almost immediately.

I don't want to jump the gun and presume opt-in will be the default option, and obviously it's important to protect children from harmful images. But at the same time, it does seem a little naive to think you can censor the Internet.

There are already organisations like the Internet Watch Foundation set up to block sites dealing with illegal forms of adult content. In my opinion, the priority should be giving parents the tools to make sure they know what their kids are getting up to online.

What do you reckon? Is opt-in a good idea? Or what would you like to see in its place? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

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    Joe has been writing about consumer tech for nearly seven years now, but his liking for all things shiny goes back to the Gameboy he received aged eight (and that he still plays on at family gatherings, much to the annoyance of his parents). His pride and joy is an Infocus projector, whose 80-inch picture elevates movie nights to a whole new level.

     

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