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Porn filters slammed by Lib Dems as 'false sense of security'

Lib Dem president Tim Farron has attacked mandatory opt-out Internet filters as "misconceived, ineffective and illiberal".

A senior Liberal Democrat has attacked the Prime Minister David Cameron's plans for mandatory opt-out Internet filters as "misconceived, ineffective and illiberal" and giving parents a "false sense of security".

Splitting from his coalition partners the Conservatives, Lib Dem president Tim Farron has drafted a motion for his party's spring conference calling for legislation enshrining "the digital rights of the citizen", the Independent reports.

The proposed legislation would prevent the government from requiring ISPs to filter proscribed sites or otherwise control material not covered by existing laws. Broadband providers could still offer the filters, but users would have to opt in to put them in place.

"Essential sites on sexual health, gender and sexuality, domestic violence and LGBT rights are being blocked by these filters, whilst pornographic content is still available," Farron told the newspaper. "If the Prime Minister really wanted to protect children from inappropriate material, he’d ensure they had access to good sexual health and relationship education and give parents the help and support they need to talk to their children about this issue."

The party's own lesbian and gay rights website was stopped by some filters -- just one example of miscategorisation by automated content blockers.

O2's content filter ironically managed to block the website of one of the Conservative MPs who campaigned for opt-out filtering, while TalkTalk and BT were both found to be blocking sites that gave sexual health and relationship advice to teenagers and victims of domestic abuse.

Filters have raised concerns that they are used to block more than adult material, with the news site TorrentFreak complaining that it was blocked by Sky's broadband service because of its apparent similarity to file-sharing sites.

In response, a new Chrome plug-in called Go Away Cameron recently sprang up, which automatically sets up a smart proxy service, bypassing your ISP's filters.

Have you found legitimate sites blocked by your ISP? What more could be done to help parents manage what their children see online without mandatory controls? Let me know what you think down in the comments, or on our tightly restricted Facebook page.