UNITED KINGDOM—British Prime Minister David Cameron is going to introduce an aggressive new plan to curb the sexualization of the nation’s youth, according to news reports. Among other measures, subscribers at the country’s top four internet service providers—BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin—will henceforth be required to opt-in in order to access porn sites.
In an update to early news reports out of Britain, ZDNet UK reported Tuesday, "Despite reports to the contrary, the code of practice does not mean the ISPs are automatically blocking pornographic sites, and customers who wish to see such content do not have to ask their provider for permission to do so.
"The blocking feature is not new," the report continues. "All four ISPs already offered the controls, and some of their users already have the feature turned on. The only change is that customers can no longer sidestep the activation decision. BT said it plans to remind existing customers that they can activate the parental controls if they wish."
What the Daily Mail calls a “breakthrough” is expected to be announced Tuesday by the PM, and will include in addition to above measures “restrictions on billboards plastered with images of scantily-clad models and aggressive advertising campaigns.” The Mail article included a sample Wonderbra ad (pictured) as an example of the sort of advert that will be verboten in the new censorship regime. A website—ParentPort.org.uk—run by government regulators also is being planned where parents (and presumably others) will be able to report sexual transgressions to the authorities.
[This is the point in the article where we remind people that George Orwell was British, and that his great apocalyptic novel, 1984, takes place in Britain. Carry on.]
“Downing Street has introduced the crackdown in response to a report by Reg Bailey, chief executive of the Mothers’ Union charity, which warned that childhood was being wrecked by web pornography, sexual TV and advertising content and suggestive clothes for youngsters,” the Daily Mail reported. “Mr. Bailey told the Government that radical steps were needed to stem the flow. Mr. Cameron wants the Parentport website to help keep any infringements in check.”
Cameron will announce the new move to curb unfettered access to sexual content tomorrow at his residence at 10 Downing Street alongside 30 media and retail executives, the paper added.
In order to smooth the passage of such a restrictive new measure that requires an opt-in to receive legal content from a private company, the plan will reportedly not require existing subscribers to opt-in retroactively, but will kick in “when a customer pays for a new internet package from a service provider.” It is also unclear at this time whether smaller ISPs will be able to provide unfettered access to porn sites, and the details of the plan, such as how the ISPs plan to decide which sites are blocked, have yet to be clarified.
Australia has been tinkering with the idea of mandating access to porn sites at the ISP level for years. The plan has hit some obstacles since it was first proposed, not least having to do with the seemingly arbitrary and inconsistent list of blacklisted sites slated for blocking, but the idea remains alive and will surely be resurrected in earnest now that that Britain has taken a bite out of the same apple.
Photo: A Wonderbra advertisement that exemplifies the sort of public smut that will henceforth be censored in the United Kingdom