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By Dominique Lazanski, Senior Fellow, Technology Policy at Big Brother Watch and a Policy Analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

BARRIE_-SPAM The Sunday Times reports (£) today that Ed Vaizey plans to meet with all major internet service providers (ISPs) next month in order to secure plans for blocking pornography at the source.  Instead of parents and adults alike opting-out of viewing pornography material at the end user level, any user of the Internet will have to actively opt-in to view and download pornography at home.

Though the details are still yet to be discussed in detail, the idea is that all end users will be able to opt in if they feel so inclined.  TalkTalk is introducing a free service next year in which users can automatically opt-in or out of certain types of content that is rated in the way that films are today.  Other providers, like Virgin’s mobile service, already ask users to opt in to seeing explicit material.  A spokesperson for Virgin said, “We are already able to block sites [on the mobile service] so it would be possible to do the same on the Internet.”

I applaud this measure not because it is a government initiative, but because ISPs and their customers are arriving at a solution to unwanted content and spam.  In effect, Ed Vaizey is reiterating his support for solutions to modern day Internet issues.  ISPs are listening to their customers – and particularly parents – and responding to their needs without the need for government legislation and regulation.  And I suspect that at the meeting next month between Ed Vaizey and ISPs, many of those ISPs will report back on technical developments and offerings already in place.

Content filtering, spam identification, and traffic management all play a part in how ISPs prevent unwanted content, and mostly pornography, from showing up on a customer’s computer.  It is really important to point out that if net neutrality, the idea that all Internet traffic is created equally, were to be put into place here in the UK then it would be difficult for ISPs to manage its traffic and provide services like the ones mentioned above to the general pubic.

So while some critics say this plan might hamper freedom of speech, I think that this is the best approach to manage what can be often overwhelming choices for customers.  ISPs offer different levels of content access to their customers and customers can opt-in and opt-out of content depending on their needs.  It is the best possible solution especially if Ed Vaizey and the government supports it, but doesn’t get in the way of ISPs and customers alike.

65 comments for: Dominique Lazanski: The Reality of the Internet Porn Lock

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