England Gets Tough With ISPs Over Child Porn

England Gets Tough With ISPs Over Child Porn
Michael Hayes
LONDON — In a move that could shift the burden of combating child pornography online to Internet service providers, the English government has announced a policy change that would require ISPs to filter out illegal images by 2007 or face increased government regulation.

According to John Carr, an anti-child pornography campaigner working for the National Children’s Home, the decision to target ISPs makes sense because the spread of child pornography online is fueled by economic considerations.

"Well over half the child porn on the Internet is commercially driven,” Carr said. “If nobody could reach the sites the gangsters who run them wouldn’t be able to sell the images. They would go out of business, and that would mean fewer children being harmed."

A recent announcement by British Telecom, one of the country’s main ISPs, concluded that nearly 8 million requests to reach illegal child porn websites are successful each year. However, the company pointed out, nearly 80 percent of all total requests were blocked by ISPs.

The government aims to improve on those figures.

Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker has confirmed that he has set a deadline of 2007 for ISPs to block all images of child pornography. While no specific legislative remedies have been set for companies that fail to comply, Coaker promised tough action.

The focus on ISPs garnered widespread government support.

"This is a huge shift from the government and I'm delighted they have taken on board ISPs how serious this issue is,” said Labour Party Member of Parliament Margaret Moran.