Internet pornography 'opt-in' plans on the way

Online pornography could be blocked unless customers actively 'opt-in'.
Online pronography could be blocked unless customers actively 'opt-in'.

By politics.co.uk staff

Internet users who want to look at pornography will have to actively 'opt-in' with their service provider, according to the government.

The plans were said to involve the UK's four major service providers - BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin.

But reports suggested the government announcement had drasticallly overstepped the agreement with providers, who anonymously complained that the talks had only agreed a drive for more education for parents.


Sources within the companies said new customers would be offered options with or without an adult filter, but that neither would be a default.

"Web blocking should not lull parents into a false sense of security. The problem will only really be solved when parents take an active interest in what their children are doing online," commented Don Foster, co-chair of the Liberal Democrat committee on culture, media and sport.

"Now that ISPs [internet service providers] are acting voluntarily, the government must step away from introducing web censorship laws."

The move is expected to form part of the prime minister's plans to tackle the sexualisation of children, with a new website being set up to provide a one-stop shop for parental complaints about all media, be it adverts, TV or video games.

There will be stricter guidelines by the Advertising Standards Authority on sexual images in outdoor advertising, particularly near schools.

A voluntary ban will be applied by the outdoor advertising industry on adverts for lap-dancing clubs near schools.

New guidelines will be brought forward preventing children aged 15 and under from being employed to act as brand ambassadors or in peer-to-peer marketing campaigns.

The plans mostly follow from ideas put forward by Mothers' Union chief executive Reg Bailey, which were enthusiastically accepted by David Cameron.

"As you say, we should not try to wrap children up in cotton wool or simply throw our hands up and accept the world as it is," he said in his response to the Bailey report.

"Instead, we should look to put 'the brakes on an unthinking drift towards ever greater commercialisation and sexualisation'."

The report calls for businesses and government to cooperate in stripping shops of 'sexy' or 'suggestive' clothing for children.

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