New U.K. Bill Demands Porn Filtering

New U.K. Bill Demands Porn Filtering
Bob Johnson

LONDON —  A new Private Members Bill put forth by the U.K.'s House of Lords is demanding measures to filter porn.

The Online Safety Bill, submitted to Parliament by Baroness Howe of Ildicote, wants ISPs to "provide a service that excludes pornographic images,” and mobile operators to filter out adult material and provide an opt-in component.

This isn’t the first attempt by British lawmakers to stymie porn. Parliament member Claire Perry has been a strong proponent for an online opt-in measure that would block porn by default.

But Perry’s idea wasn’t embraced by the government, which instead initiated a Code of Conduct between ISPs that requires them to offer parental control software.

Although this new measure is another salvo launched at banning porn, these types of private proposals from the House of Lords rarely make it into law without government support.

Howe’s bill goes further by also asking that the providers verify that the user is over 18, and provide safety advice in addition to the filtering and opt-in provisions. It also wants to force manufacturers to provide device customers with a method to filter adult content "from an Internet service at the time the device is purchased."

But the proposal doesn't seem to be gathering much steam.

According to PC Pro, the bill isn’t getting support from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport that claims the industry was already taking measures to address the issue.

“We understand the sentiment behind this Private Members Bill, but it isn’t something that Government would support," a DCMS spokesman said. "Much can be achieved through self-regulation and it can be more effective than a regulatory approach in delivering flexible solutions that work for both industry and consumers. ”

Great Britain's ISP Association (ISPA) also weighed in and said the bill was unnecessary.

"Filtering by default will only reduce the degree of active interest and parental mediation, lull parents into a false sense of security and lead to over blocking," the ISPA told legal website Outlaw.com. "The question also arises of who decides what is pornographic and what is not."

"ISPA does not believe there is a need for legislation on this issue as there is healthy competition in the industry and ISPs are responsive to consumer demands," the association said.

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