I’m a little concerned.
The British government has proposed that internet service providers block access to pornography, with people being required to opt in to access their daily dose of nudity and debauchery instead of making a choice to block it themselves.
Apparently this proposal is aimed at combating “the early sexualisation of children”. Hands up who else thinks this is a load of crap? I suggest that any early sexualisation is more likely to be the result of advertising, music video clips, and the behaviour of parents and friends, not access to pornography.
Communications minister Ed Vaizey hopes that “ISPs come up with solutions to protect children” and to stop them from being exposed to pornography on the internet. Umm, hello? There are commercially available site blockers and filters that parents can install themselves if they’re concerned. Parents can also exercise some common sense and supervise their children.
While to some extent the government does have a point (after all, pornography is not permitted into the home via free-to-air TV), why does the government think that parents should not be responsible for controlling what material enters their homes by other means? Since when did parents and guardians abdicate their child-raising duties to the government?
The other problem I have with this is the opt in aspect. I don’t imagine too many people would comfortable contacting their ISP to request access to porn; it’d be a bit like walking into an adult store and hoping no-one you know sees you. Would we be asking for blanket access to (legally available) porn or would we have to request particular categories, such as soft core, gay, lesbian, interracial, Asian girls, MILFs, etc? I wouldn’t care too much about firing off an email to sate my desire to view hot, horny housewives in the nude, but how much personal information would I have to provide and who would have access to the records of my request?
No, this opt in business is a ridiculous limitation on my right at access whatever I like in my home, provided that it’s not illegal (for example, while I have objection to porn I draw the line at child porn and bestiality). Now if governments decide to make all porn illegal, that’s another matter, but this would amount to unreasonable censorship and they’d have a hell of a fight on their hands.
The answer, in my opinion, is not to prevent adults from accessing pornography in the privacy of their homes, but for parents and guardians to supervise and control what their children are watching, just like they do with TV, movie rentals and computer games. If parents aren’t sure how to install filters or blockers, it’s up to them to learn how. If the government wants to help it can provide widely available information on how to do so. However, it’s not the government’s job to function as a ‘net nanny because some parents are too lazy to monitor what their children are doing.