There seems a bit of confusion in the media this morning; a media which has clearly been briefed yesterday on a speech that British Prime Minister, David Cameron, is going to deliver later today but can’t agree on what he is going to say (Number 10 briefers apparently hitting new heights in uselessness). As his Government faces rising poverty stats, a cabinet minister implicated in potential fraud and now under investigation by the Government, Cameron is launching a new crusade against Internet pornography. It seems that tackling masturbation is now at the heart of turning our society around. Except, it’s not as simple as that for the this it is about saving children (does this sound familiar?). Parents could purchase or utilise software include in their Internet bundles to take responsibility of their own computers and control the material kids see but no, the government will do it for you!
If you believe some newspapers this morning, such as the Guardian, then you will have to opt out of the new controls. So, the single gay male living alone (i.e. me) will have to phone up and say “Good Morning! I’d like to see explicit material please”. If you do have to do this, I suggest making particularly loud groaning noises, or perhaps a reworking of a Withnail and I line “Hello, Virgin customer services?
We want the finest porn sites available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!” The married couple might find that they work it into popping Sky Movies on for Christmas – “Hello, can we please pop Movies pack 1 and 2 on just for Christmas, oh and we can we have access to porn, David tends to get a little randy around Boxing Day?”. The married man who might be familiar with a furtive wank in the confines of his study may need to revert 20 years and purchase top shelf porn magazines from service stations and hide them in the boot of the company car. Back to the future!
The BBC Today Programme was suggesting this morning that some media outlets are suggesting that you must opt in – which is essentially a non announcement as that’s the current situation. So, pointless announcement or massive assault on civil liberties? Welcome to the botched world of the Cameron spin machine.
Top four BT, Sky, Talk Talk, Virgin, we are told by other media companies will require the opt in. If true, this is nothing short of a disgrace. That four have been singled out in this way suggests it’s likely – after all, those companies won’t thank a government for wrongly linking them to a story that turns out to be untrue. If the story isn’t quite right, they’ll be wondering what the hell they’ve got themselves into.
Because this is about preventing access to ‘adult material’ such as a bulge you might see on XFactor (such as Olly’s which flooded Twitter this last weekend) or a topless woman (as in page three of The Sun – Britain’s best selling daily newspaper), quite where the line should be drawn remains unclear – and could potentially mean that one company censors a site but another doesn’t. What about this blog? Is it the sort of thing you’d like delicate 6 year old Nancy stumbling upon?
The announcement takes place at a gathering in Number 10 later today with the Christian Charity – the Mothers Union. A move that seems straight out a Republican Presidential race campaign, and comes just weeks after it emerged that Cameron’s support was falling among women – so what better than embrace the wants of a few campaigning right-wing breeders?
This new website will be called ParentPort apparently (presumably without rum and wenching) which already shows up on Internet searches but isn’t yet working – so it looks like it all be: http://www.parentport.org.uk/
So, what next? Who ultimately makes the decision about content? Will they follow guidelines, if so, who will write them, who will review them? Will there be a right to appeal the decision? If so, to whom? Who will regulate and monitor this process? Will companies be audited as to how effectively they are implementing any code? What will happen to the data on requests for access? Who will it be shared with? What additional data on access will be gathered?
The BBC reports this morning that there is nervousness among the Internet industry which must come as little surprise as these plans seem to be a shambles. Let’s see what actually gets announced and what practical outcomes ultimately emerge.