Target: Prime Minister David Cameron
Goal: Stop the United Kingdom from imposing default internet filters for all users
Recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a plan to prevent children from seeing pornography by having all internet providers automatically block it. However, the details of this plan show that the filters that will hide pornography may be too broad. Websites that are relevant to a user’s search for a non-pornographic topic cn easily be blocked as well. As the plan is to make these filters default for all users, many will not know that non-pornographic websites are blocked as well.
The plan will mean that as a default, internet providers will block websites with pornographic URLs. Search engines will block all results for certain search terms. However, sexual terms are not always used to search for pornography, but also topics about sexuality and sexual health. Blocking these terms by default could be harmful for teenagers who are looking for factual information and are unwilling to ask parents or the internet subscriber to remove the block. While pornography should be kept away from minors, information about sexual health is important and can easily be caught in broad filters.
While the intentions behind this plan are admirable, the idea of broad filters as a default is unsettling. Not every internet subscriber in the United Kingdom has young children. Those who don’t may feel stigmatized if they request to have the blocks removed from their internet service. Other opponents of this plan feel that blocking all pornographic terms and websites will mean discussion about pornography cannot occur. Cindy Gallop, founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, feels that shutting down this discussion entirely can be harmful. In a statement, she said, ‘The answer to everything that worries people about porn and its impact on life and sex is not to shut down, clamp down or block — the answer is to open up the dialog.’ Keeping young children from seeing pornography is a goal everyone can agree with. However, a nation-wide ban by default is not the appropriate way to do this.
Dear Prime Minister Cameron:
Recently, you announced a plan to keep pornography from children by making all internet providers block it by default. While pornography certainly should be kept from minors, this large ban is not the way to do it. Blocking domains and internet searches based on sexual terms will block not only pornography, but also websites that provide factual information about sexuality and sexual health. Blocking these websites can be harmful to teenagers seeking information instead of pornography.
I ask you not to make these broad filters the default for everyone. It is ultimately the parents’ responsibility to keep what they feel is inappropriate from their children. Parental blocks are a good idea, but they should not be the default for everyone. Private households without children should not have to ask their internet provider to be allowed full access to the internet. While your plan is admirable and filters for pornographic content should be an option, they should not be the default for all United Kingdom citizens.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Sanjay Patel via Expert Business Advice