After Woolwich, after April Jones: Govt crackdown on extremism and porn

Extremist and pornography websites targeted by Miller
Extremist and pornography websites targeted by Miller
Ian Dunt By

Internet companies are being told to implement an urgent crackdown on extremist websites and pornography, as the government rapidly loses patience with the industry.

Following the killing of Lee Rigby in Woolwich and the conviction of Mark Bridger for the murder of April Jones, ministers want internet firms to work together to put together convincing plans for a crackdown on illegal materials.

"A relatively small number of organisations wield a great deal of online power - and I believe that with that power comes a great responsibility," media secretary Maria Miller wrote to internet service providers.

"Given the grave concerns that have been raised it is right that we now consider what more could and should be done in this area."


The culture secretary is calling a business summit involving Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, BT, Virgin, TalkTalk, Vodaphone, Sky, O2, EE, Three and others in a bid "to get to grips with these pervasive and pernicious problems  in all their forms".

On the agenda will be illegal porn, images of child abuse, material which could incite hatred or violence and 'suicide websites'.

Internet providers say the product is too complex to regulate but ministers are understood to have lost patience with the argument. Many feel that if the firms put competition to one side they would be able to proceed much more effectively than they have so far.

Ministers also have the stick of legislation if firms do not show movement. Internet companies will be keen to avoid the prospect of statutory controls in the white paper on connectivity later this year.

Measures on the table include beefed up role for online filters, security measures on public Wi-fi to make them 'family friendly', a set of industry guidelines for businesses and a permanent body monitoring content and child internet education standards for parents.

Online experts warn that filtering software is simply not sophisticated enough to keep track with the constant developments in online porn.

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