image by gruntzooki via Flickr Creative Commons 260x216 All Internet porn To be blocked in the UKIn a move that smacks of the draconian Internet laws in place in countries like Australia, the UK government has plans to ask ISPs to block all pornography from home Internet connections by default, it’s reported today. Under the plan, customers would have to ask the ISP for access to pornography.

The Sunday Times reports [paywalled link] that the UK’s largest ISPs will be called to a meeting next month to discuss the idea, which is being presented as a way of stopping children from accessing porn. Quoted in the story, Conservative MP Claire Perry describes the current Internet as the “Wild west”. “We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure our children aren’t stumbling across things we don’t want them to see.”

The Sunday Times says the government is pushing for this despite the UK’s Internet Services Providers’ Association saying in the past that such a block would be expensive and technically difficult.

Does this sound insane to you? It does to us. While most people probably don’t want children exposed to porn, the idea of blocking it at source is hairbrained on a number of levels:

  • How do you define porn? Sure, some sites are obviously explicit but what about sites which cover the academic study of pornography? What about message boards like 4chan which cover a wide range of topics including porn? Where is the line?
  • If you do block sites which cover porn among other subjects, where do you stop? It’s potentially letting Internet censorship in through the back door.
  • Adults shouldn’t be stigmatised for viewing porn. Forcing them to contact their ISPs for “permission” does that.

No, we’ll take end-users choosing their own child protection measures over a ‘Nanny state’ approach. It’s worth noting that the minister behind this reported plan is Ed Vaizey, who last month made comments that called the future of net neutrality in the UK into question, even if he later claimed to have been misunderstood.

We’ll keep you informed on how this story progresses.