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Surprise, surprise, David Cameron knows nothing about online porn filters

PM expects some surprises along his filtering way
Tue Jul 23 2013, 15:43
Prime minister David Cameron reading at his desk

HE ANNOUNCED IT ONLY YESTERDAY, but already UK Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted that he does not have a single clue about how an internet porn filter works.

Cameron was doing what he does best, opening his mouth and letting words fall out of it in an interview on BBC Radio 2's Jeremy Vine show.

Questioned about the elements of his intention to censor the internet in the UK, Cameron came across as a dunderhead without much of a clue.

Cameron said that the porn filter will be sophisticated enough to block pornography, but not the sexualisation of women in newspapers.

"It will depend on how the companies choose how to do it," he said. "It doesn't mean, for instance, it will block access to a newspaper... The Sun, it wouldn't block that - but it would block pornography."

Will it though? Can he confirm that? Let's see what he says about how filtering will work. He admitted that on its very basest level it would mean one partner, or household member, admitting to another, that they want to access what we will delicately call mature or adult content. This will possibly become a dinner party conversation piece for years to come.

More technical stuff? Forget it. "It will depend on how the filters work," was his answer to one question and, "I'm not saying we've thought of everything," was his answer to another.

It looks like the prime minister just wants to hand over responsibility for making this work to the ISPs. Cameron said that these businesses would define themselves what is "automatically blocked" when asked for a definition of "pornography".

"The assumption is that they will start with blocking pornography sites," he explained, not so helpfully.

Asked whether porn filtering will block the page and stomach turning novel 50 Shades of Grey, he said he doubted it. So primed was he with information that he could not say whether it would survive because it is text base, or what.

"This is the government having worked very hard with these companies and agreeing a new protocol if you like," he added, "The company will decide what is automatically filtered... It's very important to work with the companies involved."

Cameron suggested that some people might stumble onto pages that host child abuse while looking for information about sex education in schools, and said that here would be a good opportunity to issue a pop-up "do you really want to go there?" warning.

According to the prime minister control of access to websites will be held by the account holder and they will have to contact their ISP through an email account to let them know where their interests and fetishes lie. He reckons that this will stop the more technologically aware children from circumventing the filtering.

"I'm not saying we've thought of everything and there will be many problems down the line as we deal with this, but we're trying to crunch through these problems and work out what you can do and can't do and what companies need to do."

The companies aren't always tagging along with the government plans, he added, and the government could be forced into legislating. "There are one or two things that we want them to do that they have not agreed to do," he added, explaining that the plan is to make internet companies not deliver results on the more terrible of search terms.

Cameron admitted that the filtering plans, which still need to be worked out, are not "the be all and end all of the problem". The problem apparently being children accessing pornography on the internet. µ

 

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