ISPs to attend summit at Downing Street

By Danielle Middleton topicIcon Internet News

Speaking the same language

The government and internet companies are to convene at a summit today at No.10 to discuss the ongoing issue of child porn on the web.

It has been speculated in the press that the situation continues to go unresolved as politicians and internet companies do not speak the same language. The PM stated "Enough is enough", while ISPs, social networks and search engines claim that the government is displaying its ignorance of how the internet works in its expectation of an instantaneous reaction.

One ISP executive told the BBC that the government is unaware of what constitutes a 'practical response' to dealing with harmful content; and that a knee-jerk reaction won't produce the outcome the public and government want in the long term.

Under pressure

Two weeks ago, in the wake of the April Jones trial, internet service providers (ISPs) were put under pressure by the government to change the current system. Since then Talk Talk have proven that it is possible to filter content despite ISPs stating it was not yet technically possible to place selective filters on web pages viewed.

The concern was that a default block on all sex-related content would prevent access to information on sexual health. Today's meeting chaired by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, is to be attended by: Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Twitter, EE, Sky, Talk Talk, BT, Facebook, Virgin Media, O2, Vodafone and Three, who will discuss a possible solution to the problem.

The ISP Association has stated to the BBC that filtering tools should be more readily available, though they oppose a default setting. The association has said they will use the Downing Street meeting to place emphasis on what the industry is already doing to work with the police and block obscene images.

Time for change

Claire Perry, Conservative MP, has said that progress has already been made in blocking content from public places by using verification mechanisms and one click filters, which are available unless parents choose to turn them off.

She said: "We've done it without regulation; we've done it by working systematically with the industry. At the moment the filtering work is going really well, and no need for legislation."

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword said: "Putting the pressure on web companies to do something about this issue has clearly worked over the last few weeks, and hopefully it is a sign of things to come.

"So far politicians and ISPs have been accusing each other of being in the wrong and little has been done to solve the problem, but we can hope that this summit will have a positive outcome."