Sunday 23 July 2017

Web providers hit out at 'censorship' of internet porn

Mark O'Regan and Kevin Keane

IRISH internet providers have criticised a decision by their counterparts in the UK to impose a blanket ban on pornography -- branding the decision as "nothing less than censorship".

Under a new scheme introduced last year aimed at protecting children from explicit material online, subscribers to four of the UK's biggest internet service providers now have to 'opt in' if they want to view sexually explicit websites.

Customers who do not specifically 'opt in' for access to adult content will be unable to log on to pornographic websites.

However, the Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) has dismissed such measures as 'censorship', saying the responsibility should lie with parents to regulate what children access on the web.

"If internet service providers are dictating what can be accessed, then that could be seen as nothing less than censorship. Essentially we would be deciding what would be the inappropriate material. That should be left to the parents or guardians," said Paul Duran from the ISPAI.

The ISPAI represents 20 Internet Service Providers in Ireland including the likes of Eircom, O2, Vodafone and UPC.

UCD lecturer and digital law expert JP McIntyre believes there are massive practical issues involved with the measures.

"Many of these blocking issues are easy to circumvent, but what they do tend to do is damage people who have been wrongly blocked. You'll find that shops selling things like lingerie get blocked by these filters," Mr McIntyre said.

He added: "Very often there are no appeal mechanisms or they are very hard to use and in the meantime people find that their businesses are suffering because people can't access their sites and they don't know why."

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald admitted that the UK was "further ahead" in terms of protecting children from inappropriate online material, but she refused to comment on whether there were any plans to persuade Irish internet providers to adopt the British model.

Yesterday, the minister launched 'Safer Internet Day 2012' at St Brigid's Primary School in Dublin. The event aims to promote safer internet use for children, and marked a new Garda Primary Schools Programme module dealing with online bullying.

'I Caught My Teen Watching Internet Porn'

Irish Independent

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