Brits Consider Child Porn Disclosure Rule

LONDON — Margaret Moran, a Labour MP, has introduced legislation to Parliament that would require Internet service providers to declare the steps they have taken to block access to child pornography on their networks.

The bill, submitted under Parliament’s “Ten Minute Rule,” which allows only brief discussion of the issue and is unlikely to effect immediate change, is still of concern to ISPs worried about the cost of monitoring.

Still, ISP representatives gave the idea cautious support.

"Anything that is a step towards child safety and reducing the number of child abuse images on the Internet is by-and-large a good thing," an America Online spokesman said. "Any information that we give away might help people putting [child pornography] online."

Joan Irvine, executive director of the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection, told XBiz that U.S. law forbids ISPs to proactively monitor their associated sites.

“A company would be placing itself in a potential legal situation if it tried to proactively search for CP on a server,” she said.

However, ASACP does send “red flag reports” to various ISPs and domain registrars when suspicious material is encountered on their accounts.

The reports, detailed with all available IP addresses — including proxy servers, if any, as well as names and associated information from WhoIs lookups — provide companies with the wherewithal to investigate their clients.

Skeptics of the British bill (as well as Irvine) said that most professional companies already have complaint departments who would remove a site within 48 hours — or much sooner — if suspicious material is found.

The bill, called the Control of Internet Access (child pornography), will be discussed in late October.