5,000 Canadians Sign Porn Filtering Petition

Bob Johnson

COLE HARBOUR, Canada — Close to 5,000 people have signed a petition urging Canada’s government to adopt porn filtering.

Pushed by Nova Scotia resident Kristine Podeszwa on the Change.org website, the proposed action would force ISPs to block porn by default from all households, similar to what’s being mandated in the U.K. that would require users to opt-in to watch adult content.

“We are requesting that the Canadian government require all Internet providers to automatically block any and all pornographic material (videos, pictures etc) from Candian households. If an adult in the home wishes to have this content unblocked they are free to contact their Internet provider and authorize them to do so,” Podeszwa wrote on the site.

She added, “The horribly addictive effects of pornography on children and our society [are] becoming increasingly evident and we demand that the Canadian government take immediate action against it.”

Podeszwa has also created a Facebook page called the Canadian Anti-Pornography Petition, that she hopes will grab the attenton of the government. 

But similar to the U.K. backlash claiming filtering is tantamount to government censorship, some digital rights and civil rights advocates are voicing concern.

And tech savvy critics are saying that porn blocking is ineffective as surfers can find ways round the filtering system. The filters could also block non-porn sites that contain information on sexual health and so-called “violent” sites that could offer things like suicide prevention.

Porn filters can also block virtual private networks (VPNs), allowing anonymous surfers to disguise their browsing.

Tom Copeland, chairman of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers told the Huffington Post that filtering has been on the table for years but resisted by ISPs. However, the providers have reportedly been working with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection since 2007 in an effort to block child porn.

One respondent on Podeszwa’s Facebook page, Janalee Largesse, said in part, “It is not your place to parent other people’s children. Furthermore, it is not the government’s job to control thoughts, interests, streams, etc. We are all human beings with rights to make personal choices.

"If the government does what is currently being implemented in the UK, where there will be a blanket ban with the ability to opt out, what will happen to those who do? They’ll have this massive list of people — normal, decent individuals — who have opted in for porn; entirely innocent people that have done nothing wrong. Will their search engines be followed, records kept, spying on perfectly fine people viewing perfectly legal content?"

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