Recently there has been talk of an “Online Safety Act 2012”. What is it? According to Parliament’s own website:
“A Bill to make provision about the promotion of online safety; to require internet service providers and mobile phone operators to provide a service that excludes pornographic images; and to require electronic device manufacturers to provide a means of filtering content.”
The bill has not passed yet. In fact, currently, it’s setting there in the House of Lords awaiting committee (I don’t really understand how a bill becomes a law here). But the idea is simple: if you want to watch porn online, you’ll have to “opt-in” to a subscription to a certain service, and your Internet Service Provider has to know about it.
They say it’s to protect our children, but that’s not even close to the truth. So what is the real purpose behind the Online Safety Act? Simple, the government wants to take away the anonymity of online porn viewers, effectively singling people out for watching internet porn, which is sickening to say the least.
All it’s doing is caving in the mentality of Daily Mail readers (and editors) so they can have an excuse to clamp down on civil liberties. Put it simply, the Government’s real interest is social control. As if Britain wasn’t enough of a nanny state.
Now you know what the real purpose of that bill is. Now you should know why it will fail.
First of all, Internet Service Providers would simply find the whole idea of blocking porn sites as simply too expensive and borderline unworkable. And I can see why. There are over 4.2 million porn websites on the internet, over 420 million porn pages, and over 68 million daily pornographic search requests, and of them all, I’m certain only a tiny fraction of them contain illegal child porn (the cause of concern which the media uses to rationalize this bill).
Secondly, the porn industry is one of the biggest industries in the world. If it can afford to make the same porn over and over again, then surely they can use their money to stop the bill from being passed into law, and if the tobacco industry can do the same, then the porn industry can.
Third, it won’t work anyway. The Pirate Bay is an illegal website, and is thus blocked by Internet Service Providers. But I’ve heard that you can bypass it with a VPN or a proxy. Besides, even if this is about parents wanting to keep kids from watching online porn, then it won’t even work. Kids will always find a way around it, and telling them about it will only make them more curious about it, and that will simply defeat the purpose of the whole thing.
And what if the parents want to watch porn online? They would have to “opt-in” themselves, and that would be more annoying for them.
I think the whole thing is a way for parents to once again absolve themselves of any responsibility when looking after their kids. If we want to fight the sexualisation of children, the parents have to do it themselves, by putting what kids see into context, and telling them that they’re not supposed to be watching porn until they’re 18. Parents can’t keep their kids in a bubble forever.
Eventually, kids will find out about porn, but when they do, we have to deal with it the right way, otherwise we’ll wind up becoming a totalitarian nanny state.