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UK government is going headlong for internet filtering

Internet users will be grilled at signup
Mon Nov 19 2012, 09:49
The Houses of Parliament in London

THE UK GOVERNMENT is moving swiftly towards internet controls that will tailor a home web connection to the people who live in the home.

The Daily Mail reports that the government will require ISPs to ask their users whether or not they have children at home, and if they do, to provide them with internet filtering for a less adult and more child friendly service.

This will mean filtering, but not default filtering as had been expected in some quarters. According to the Daily Mail the changes are a toughening up of plans, and take the UK away from a system where people have an active choice and into one where they are guided into censorship.

"We know lots of parents are concerned about the material their children are accessing on the internet and we want to do more to help. We've consulted on a variety of options on how we can make it safer for children online," said a senior but unnamed Number 10 source to the Mail.

"Internet service providers have made great progress to date in implementing 'active choice' controls... After intervention from the Prime Minister, the Government is urging providers to go one step further and make sure their systems actively encourage parents, whether they are new or existing customers, to switch on parental controls."

The news was greeted with defiance by the Open Rights Group (ORG), and it said it will resist moves towards mandatory filtering. "Once we have seen the proposals, we may have more work to do, and we can expect continued pressure from MPs that have been wound up by pro-filtering campaigners," it said.

"We will resist legislation, which would be pure window dressing, if the reports are correct about Cameron's intentions. We will resist calls for mandatory network filtering."

The Open Rights Group said that it will fight any kind of web blocking, explaining that blocks are notoriously scattergun and difficult to take down.

"ORG are the only group to have produced real evidence about the effect of blocking on the Internet," explained ORG executive director Jim Killock.

"Thanks to submissions from members of the public last year, we found dozens of incorrectly blocked sites on mobile networks, that use 'default' filtering today. We exposed the problems with getting blocks changed and even identified. We found customer services very poor at helping people to deal with these problems."

We've asked Number 10 for more information on the government's plans. We are waiting for a response. µ


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