Demon ‘uncensored Internet’ harms child porn clampdown – Observer
Internet Watch Foundation also slammed, in a scare story which goes too far
Demon Internet has come under fire for allegedly not doing enough to prevent child pornography from appearing in newsgroups and on its news servers. In a story entitled "Exposed: where child porn lurks on the Net", The Observer claimed that Demon's bias towards "an uncensored Internet" was at the expense of curtailing child pornography from the Web. While other ISPs restricted access to certain newsgroups, Demon, The Observer claimed, continued to carry a number of the newsgroups banned by other ISPs. A spokeswoman for Demon refused to comment on the story. Asked whether Demon would change its libertarian approach and ban more newsgroups from its server, she said that the ISP was "evaluating all possibilities", but refused to rule anything in or out. The Internet Watch Foundation - set up in 1996 to address the problem of illegal material on the Internet and in particular, child pornography - also came in for criticism. The Observer claimed that "something failed to spark" at the IWF, which is why the Government called in a team of special advisers in 1998 to suggest how the organisation could be improved. The article suggests that the Internet industry's stab at self-regulation is failing. But in a strongly worded letter to The Observer, David Kerr, CE of the IWF, said: "Shutting down newsgroups would not do much to protect the children whose pictures are already on the Net. "What if the UK industry had accepted the original position of shutting down newsgroups nominated by the police? "Might we not have had an article today reflecting on the damage to freedom of speech and the threat to democracy of a situation where the state could dictate what is available on the Internet, irrespective of whether it is legal or not?" said Kerr. See Also Exposed: where child porn lurks on the Net IWF Responds to the Observer "Exposure"