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Plans to filter porn by default in the UK scrapped after public rejection

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A proposal to filter sexually-explicit material on the internet by default in the UK has been scrapped after a public consultation revealed parents were not in favor of the scheme. Spearheaded by Conservative MP Claire Perry, the plan would have seen UK citizens "opt in" to pornographic material, but only 35 percent of the parents surveyed thought the automatic blocking of such sites was a good idea. The vast majority of respondents said it was up to parents to monitor internet access.

"Default filtering can create a false sense of security."

The report, published as a PDF by the Department for Education, highlights the pitfalls of an automatic blocking system: it would be very unlikely to block every site containing explicit content, and so could "create a false sense of security" for parents. It could also prevent access to educational websites that offer valuable information and advice on sexual health and identity. The four largest ISPs in the UK — Sky, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin — have already agreed to a less-aggressive "opt-out" content filtering program. They plan to ask new customers whether they wish to block explicit material during the signup process, and provide the tools to help parents do so. The report calls on the providers to "go one step further" and ask existing customers the same question.

"We have to base policy on what's been received, not what we want."

The government wants all ISPs to "actively encourage" parents to use the filters and parental controls available to them. It also says all "internet-connected devices" should come with parental controls by default. Both Claire Perry and children's charity the NSPCC expressed their disappointment at the report's findings. The NSPCC said that parents' voices were not being heard, but noted that the government's recommendations were a "step in the right direction." Perry told BBC News that opt-in was "clearly that was not the preferred choice of the 3,500 people who responded to the consultation," conceding that the government has to "base policy on what's been received not what we want."

The Verge
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