Digital Rights' Director Slams David Cameron's Internet Porn Ban Plans

By James O Malley on at

David Cameron is threatening to 'ban' or 'shutdown' porn websites that don't enforce age restrictions, with sites facing shutdown within 10 days if they do not comply with age-restriction rules.

According to the Independent the porn industry will be given a chance to self-regulate and enforce age controls itself. If it fails, Cameron is threatening to bring the full force of the state down on it.

This could result is a law being passed that would make it "an offence in the UK to publish pornography online without age verification controls, possibly with a regulator to oversee and enforce controls", or sites could be banned through other means, such as ISPs blocking websites or payment providers blocking transactions. The government is planning to launch a consultation in the autumn about it.

In an enjoyably brutal response to this posturing, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, an organisation that protects digital rights, Jim Killock said:

While the government can shut down UK-based sites, these are few in number and represent a tiny proportion of the global porn industry. Cameron needs to clarify how he wishes to achieve his goals, given that most porn sites are hosted abroad. To block them, the government would have to introduce a national firewall, which would censor sites for everyone, and would likely be widely circumvented.

While we understand the government’s concern about children accessing pornography, there are no simple tech solutions. We need to make sure that children are being educated by their parents and schools in how to navigate the web safely.

According to the Indy, the top 10 porn sites represent 52 per cent of pageviews. If those 10 websites are shut out... how on earth will people on the internet ever find any pornography ever again?

The news should perhaps worry just more than fans of pornography though as the underlying legal and technological mechanisms that would make such action plausible could have broader implications for freedom of expression and privacy online. But when people are shouting "Something Must Be Done!", clearly it is easier to do something unworkable and stupid than nothing. [Independent]

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