Stricter approach to adult content access

By Danielle Middleton topicIcon Internet News

Opt-in approach for adult content

Internet service providers (IPSs) are in talks over an opt in policy for adult content on browsers, a move previously rejected by the government.

In the UK ISPs are currently signed up to a code of practice controlling access to adult content, but the proposed Online Safety Bill would require users to prove they are over 18 and opt in.

The subject has reached the public forum following the emotional revelations of the April Jones trial last week at Mold Crown Court, during which the jury heard that the day the 5 year old had gone missing, the accused Mark Bridger had accessed child pornography online.

What's stopping a block?

ISPs have so far criticised the plan because a default block would also block informative content on sexual awareness, stating the technology is not yet sophisticated enough to automatically filter out the pornography from helpful guides on sexual identity, health and abuse.

Another opt-in concern comes from the adult entertainment industry, whose market is based on online credit card payments and people joining their websites; anything that stops this will jeopardise their economy.

While a public consultation indicated that 35 per cent of people were in favour of the move, there remain concerns over whether such a change could lead to censorship issues.

Preserving choice

Claire Perry, Conservative MP, who last year chaired the independent inquiry into online child protection, has suggested that the opt-in method "preserves choice" while offering the best level of protection.

The inquiry came ahead of the proposal to government in May 2012 when the bid to put an automatic block on porn was rejected. The government has recently stated that although it is unlikely to become law, it will keep the pressure on ISPs.

Natalie Booth, head of search at theEword said, "The pressure is on to change the access levels to online porn. However, when technology will be available to successfully filter what is for health purposes and what should be adult-only content is unknown, and until then it is up to ISPs to self regulate for the protection of younger internet users. "