Porn filter blocks website of MP who campaigned for it

Conservative MP Claire Perry has found her website has been blocked by the very porn filter she campaigned for.

Oh, the irony. You spend ages crusading for a porn filter that'll stop impressionable youths seeing naughty photos and videos, only for said filter to end up blocking your own website.

That's what happened to Conservative MP Claire Perry. Perry, MP for the Devizes constituency, has been campaigning for a clampdown on Internet grot for years now. She got her wish recently, with ISPs rolling out 'parental control' as the default setting. Though as a recent Newsnight showed, and as Perry found out for herself, the filters are far more effective at blocking all manner of non-pornographic and even helpful sites.

The Independent reports that Perry's site was among those added to the blocked list by O2's smut filter. It's thought all the mentions of "porn" and "sex" on her site in relation to why we need such a filter was enough to flag it up as one worth blocking.

An O2 spokesperson told The Independent that the network had since changed its filter, allowing access to erroneously blocked sites. "As you can appreciate there are millions of sites that exist and sometimes they can fall through the net to be categorised correctly," they said. "ChildLine, the NSPCC and the Samaritans have all now been added to the 'allowed' list for Parental Control."

It's easy to make light of the issue, but such filters can have serious repercussions. Blocking charity websites is no laughing matter. Newsnight found other filters from other ISPs were blocking websites giving teenagers advice on sex and relationships, as well as domestic abuse. Sites dealing with sexual health issues have also been caught in the net.

Meanwhile, some sites showing blue movies are still readily accessible.

Obviously it's early days for these filters, and I'm sure they'll get better, but I'd question whether they're a good idea in the first place. I think it's up to parents to be mindful of what their children are doing online, and to make sure they're informed about the issues. And that's without getting into questions of the nanny state, and the sheer logistical nightmare of implementing such a system. Someone's already made an extension for the Google Chrome browser that sidesteps the filter. Fittingly enough, it's called Go Away Cameron.

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below, or on our red hot Facebook page.

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