FSC, ASACP Release Report at ATVOD Conference

LONDON — The Free Speech Coalition and ASACP, calling for a public education campaign as the only viable alternative to blanket online censorship in the U.K., today released a report based on independent research on combating the spread of child porn.

The Free Speech Coalition and ASACP released the report — "Protecting Children in the Digital Age" — prior to today's ATVOD conference that discussed ways to protect children from online pornography.

Today's ATVOD conference in London, titled “For Adults Only? — Protecting Children From Online Porn,” was organized by the U.K. on-demand regulator and attended by an audience of free speech and adult entertainment advocates, as well as those advocating against Internet access to erotic content. The conference discussed ways U.K. providers of online video services can keep hardcore porn out of reach of under-18s and what risks does it pose to children. The subject of blocking payments for foreign porn sites also was touched on.

Speakers at today's conference included the FSC's Diane Duke; ASACP's Vince Charlton; Sue Berelowitz, deputy children’s commissioner for England; Reg Bailey, CEO of The Mothers’ Union; Julia Hornle, of the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary, University of London; Paula Hall, chair of the Association for the Treatment of Sex Addicts and Compulsivity; Becky Foreman, head of governmental affairs at Microsoft; Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of The Parent Zone; Adam Kinsley, director of policy at BSkyB; and Julia Long, author of "Anti-Porn: The Resurgence of Anti-Pornography Feminism," as well as ATVOD's Pete Johnson.

In the report, the FSC and ASACP called on for Prime Minister David Cameron and the U.K. government to re-think how they approach issues around children and Internet pornography.

The "Protecting Children in the Digital Age" report offered recommendations on child safety, including  the launch of a public educational campaign to provide factual information to U.K. citizens on how to keep our young people safe online;  partnering with adult content providers and gaming sites to ensure all sites use a filtering system that facilitates age-appropriate parental controls; providing practical, evidence based, educational classes to parents covering topics from installing parental controls, to how to communicate with their children about online interactions

The report also highlights the failings of filtering technologies as a silver-bullet  solution to child protection online and raised serious concerns that ISP blocking could even prevent young people’s access to advice and resources on serious issues like cyber-bullying, child luring, cyber-stalking, and what to do if  a victim of sexual or physical abuse.

Duke, in a statement on the report, said that "the function of government is to provide its citizens with considered evidence based public policy; not to cooperate with moral panics and narrow pressure groups.”

Charlton, director of European Outreach for ASACP, concurred: “Creating hysteria and setting up blocks at the ISP level will not only do little to protect children online, but also may pose additional threats because it will give parents a false sense of security.”

In the report, the two organizations asked ATVOD, and parent regulator Ofcom, to work for a "truly safe online environment and look forward to the possibility of working together to that end."

View FSC/ASACP report