Government consultation for online child protection

Last week we raised the issue of the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA UK) hitting back at proposals which would make ISPs automatically filter web content, following the Independant Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection.

Today it’s been announced that the Government will begin a consultation on new measures the Inquiry advised should be put into place.  One of the plans would be for customers to opt in to receiving adult content when signing up for a broadband contract rather than the current system of opting out which is not always made clear when entering into a contract.  This would mean that children would not be able to readily access inappropriate websites and information.  David Cameron is now due to meet ISPs to discuss the measures.

Internet companies have been accused of being complicit in exposing children to inappropriate information and dragging their feet on the issue by the Conservative backbencher, Claire Perry whilst Shadow Culture Secretary, Harriet Harman has said that keeping children safe online is a real problem and a concern for millions of parents.  She continued that the Government “needs to work closely with the industry to develop blocking technology which is easy to use and effective so that parents have the control they need to protect their children”.

In 2011, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin did say that they would offer customers the option of blocking adult content at the point of subscription.

Civil liberties group, Big Brother Watch, has called the consultation a “positive step” although it has also asked that the Government look into ways of making it easier for parents to take action rather than restricting access to websites.