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Britain's Prime Minister to Review Porn Opt-in Plan

Britain's Prime Minister to Review Porn Opt-in Plan
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May 4, 2012 7:45 AM PDT    Text size: 

LONDON — Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron has given the crusade to force U.K. ISPs to adopt an Internet porn opt-in plan a shot in the arm.

According to reports, the U.K. leader is expected to announce a formal investigation today into laws regarding Internet porn along with the proposed filtering and “default on” plan that’s been spearheaded by conservative Member of Parliament Claire Perry.

A government source told The Times, "Nothing is ruled in or out at the moment. We will look at all the options.”

The Daily Mail, which has launched a fervent “Block Online Porn” campaign quoted a government source as saying, “Keeping children safe and protecting them from what’s available on the internet is hugely important to the Prime Minister.

“He is determined to get the right policy in this area, which is why he has intervened to make sure no options are off the table. He wants to hear industry views, and consult on the possibility of a default Internet filter as well as active choice.”

The porn opt-in plan has fueled controversy in the U.K. with proponents claiming forced filtering is necessary to protect children from accessing adult material, while critics claim it’s a form of censorship and the government should keep out.

Although the measure was first met with little enthusiasm from Parliament and Cameron's cabinet, primarily because of its sticky civil liberties issue, The Mail’s media campaign, along with continued hammering by Perry has made it a public hot button that now has Cameron’s attention.

The Mail praised Cameron’s decision and said in a statement that he is listening to the demands for action to protect children from “the creeping menace of Internet pornography.”

Just this week, the High Court forced ISPs to block access to illegal file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, prompting the Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) to fight back, saying it’s not the job of ISPs to police the Internet.

An ISPA spokesman said that ISPs already offer filtering services that allow parents to take responsibility for what their children view and added that determined, tech savvy users can circumvent any kind of technical block.

But backers of the filtering plan maintain that its opponents are just greedy corporations that care only about huge fees.

"I'm not zealous about this — I just want the facts," Perry told The Times. "If we can see that the idea of an 'opt-in' system is technologically difficult or bad for the economy, then fine. But the problem with the debate is we need to know the facts."

Perry doesn’t believe blocking websites is tantamount to censorship. "There is a 'hands off our internet' movement that sees any change in how access is delivered as censorship," she said. "We are not being prudish, but we just think the current method of blocking that material is broken."

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