Labour backs porn 'opt-in' proposal

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Adults only? ISPs may have to impose blanket bans with an adult opt-in.
Adults only? ISPs may have to impose blanket bans with an adult opt-in.

Labour tried to outmanoeuvre the Conservatives on the issue of pornography today, as it threw its support behind plans to force internet users to 'opt-in' to online sexual content.

Earlier this month, a cross-party group of MPs demanded internet service providers (ISPs) be forced to impose a blanket ban on sexual content on their services. Customers would then have to actively request for the filter to be switched off.

The government has expressed support for an 'opt-out' ban instead, allowing parents to censor the internet but not forcing other customers to go through the embarrassing process of actively requesting access to pornography.

That response triggered an angry response from some Conservative MPs and the Daily Mail, which began a prominent campaign in favour of the 'opt-in' proposals.

Labour moved to support that campaign today, in a clear bid to out-manoeuvre the government on the social right.

"Jeremy Hunt is trying to persuade us that his 'active choice’ policy is enough," shadow media minister Helen Goodman and shadow justice minister Jenny Chapman wrote in the Daily Mail.

"Under this, four major internet service providers offer new customers the opportunity to opt out of access to pornography.

"The problem is that this scheme will not reach many customers straight away, and won’t even hit the 90 per cent mark until 2017.

"Most of us are not geeks – and when one of us tried, all that happened was that the computer was disabled for 24 hours."

Analysts warn that parents are regularly out-smarted by their teenagers, who regularly sidestep filters on adult content.

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