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UK.gov wants to stop teenagers looking at tits online. No, really
Think of the children! Wait. Er... DON'T think of the children
Prime Minister David Cameron has declared himself "determined to introduce age verification mechanisms to restrict under 18s' access to pornographic websites" and he is "prepared to legislate to do so if the industry fails to self-regulate."
The government will hold a consultation in the autumn, meaning it will be standing on the proverbial street corner and soliciting views on how to stop 17-year-olds running a web search for the phrase "tits".
The government seems to expect "industry" to somehow figure out how to block content through payment providers and "other means", while also consulting on how to legislate if voluntary agreements don't give it what it wants.
Cameron huffed and puffed: "Our One Nation government is working hard to make the internet a safer place for children. The next step in this campaign is to curb access to harmful pornographic content which is currently far too widely available."
He added: "I want to see age restrictions put into place or these websites will face being shut down."
With the plentiful presence of pornographic material on the internet, the government complains that it is "all too easy for children to access adult content on websites without restriction – whether intentionally or otherwise".
For this reason, they suggest more effective controls are necessary to stop children peeking at "inappropriate and damaging material, both on websites operated from the UK and overseas".
Porno commissioner incoming
A regulatory approach could see primary legislation introduced to make it an offence in the UK to publish pornography online without age verification controls, possibly with a regulator to oversee and enforce controls.
The gov states that its aim is to ensure that rules which apply offline apply online, "giving parents the peace of mind of knowing that their children can use the internet safely", without having to do actual parenting.
The minister for internet safety and security, Baroness Joanna Shields (Conservative), said: "As a result of our work with industry, more than 90 per cent of UK consumers are offered the choice to easily configure their internet service through family friendly filters – something we take great pride in having achieved. It's a gold standard that surpasses those of other countries."
Criticism of previous Tory plans to manage the internet allege that the various filtering measures are incapable of providing genuine preventative measures for adequately motivated porn-crazed teens, and function as public relations campaigns to soothe the fearful minds of parents who have perhaps been listening to the government more than they have been talking to their children.
Among the critics of this move is the Open Rights Group, which is compiling profiles of filtering by ISPs. Opt-in pr0n is required by the Tory-led coalition government's proposals.
Baroness Shields added: "Whilst great progress has been made, we remain acutely aware of the risks and dangers that young people face online. This is why we are committed to taking action to protect children from harmful content. Companies delivering adult content in the UK must take steps to make sure these sites are behind age verification controls." ®