'Happy slapping' vids prompt Brown to push net filters
You the jury
The availability of gore and violence on the internet has prompted the UK Government to consider backing a campaign to encourage wider awareness and use of net-filtering software.
Gordon Brown has ordered ministers to work with ISPs and media watchdog Ofcom to devise a strategy to regulate access to smut and violence online. Early ideas include plans to educate parents about the use of net-filtering software (aka censorware). Ofcom has been asked to develop a kite-mark scheme to certify net-filtering products, The Sun reports. There will also be a review on whether new rules are needed about the marketing of some products to youngsters.
"We will be looking to see what can be done to help regulate access to inappropriate material," Prime Minster Brown said in a speech to the National Council of Voluntary Organisations in London on Monday.
The scheme is likely to play well in Middle England. However, the idea that net-filtering software can act as a panacea is surely mistaken. Use of the software is highly political and often more attuned to the sensibilities of Bible Belt America than European values. Leaving aside questions of the effectiveness of net-nanny software, of which there are many, UK kids might be restricted from accessing sexual health websites or campaigning groups such as Amnesty International as well as violent content.
The Sun suggests that the availability of everything from happy-slapping videos to beheading in Iraq has spurred the net violence crackdown initiative. The review is part of Brown's wider citizens' jury plans. Citizens' jury involve groups of ordinary punters thrashing out specific issues and passing on findings to government departments. This might sound like a focus group - but it isn't - though how the scheme would work in practice is still a bit vague, at least judging from the responses of the prime minister's spokesman to reporters.
The first citizens' jury will meet later this week on the "subject of children", which will certainly give the participants plenty to discuss. Helping to keep inappropriate material away from sensitive eyes is expected to form part of this discussion. ®
@ D Stewert
I was starting to think the world had gone nuts... how everybody commenting seemed to think that the article was talking about censoring the entire Internet for everybody is beyond me.
I hate censorship and the lack of censorship on the Internet is what makes it great. It also creates a fair few problems. A lot of parents are unaware of the technical ways that they can protect their kids from being inadvertantly exposed to graphic porn or violence. An informational campaign to tell them about Net Nanny or other software is not a bad thing.
The problem with censorship
Is who decides what is to be censored.
The bigger problem here is that they're doing this under the guise of "Won't somebody please think of the children", however in a society without proper parenting, and parents who pay attention to their kids how can the problem be solved?
A REAL solution
A) Increase the parenting responsibility of women, refuse them work before/after hours of school when their children are below the age of 16, make sure they actually look after their damn kids instead of latchkeying them.
Outcome: Kids have someone who is hopefully grown up enough for them to talk to, and they don't become reliant on their immature peers for validation and support
B) Pay husbands more to ensure a reasonable income.
Outcome: Single parent families cease to be after 15-20 years
C) If people who aren't ready or aren't capable of parenting happen to be parents, bleed their income dry (I'm looking at the teenage mums here, who get up the duff at 15), do not allow them a cushy ride on my taxes.
Outcome: Getting pregnant when young becomes a severely unattractive possibility, abortion rates go up, moral responsibility for actions amongst teenagers goes up, over the course of 15-20 years, teenage pregnancy ceases to be an issue. Quality of parenting improves.
Sure, non of this is something that people would agree with, however, if we keep focusing on the problems rather than the solutions then the issue will become more apparent and more problematic. This can be solved without further brainwashing of kids, after all its the lack of mature reasoning, and adult confidant that makes kids become more and more unruly, there are no strict boundaries for them any more. The innocence of youth is dead and the only way to bring it back, and increase the quality of parenting along the way is to do things which are ever more unpopular than censorship. Censorship doesn't make a problem go away, it just hides it, it goes underground and becomes more extreme.
Filtering kids' access is not censoring yours
Why is everyone complaining that this is a planned censorship system?
No-one mentioned censorship in the original article. Why not go and complain about the real attempts and successes in censoring adult lives?
"Early ideas include plans to educate parents about the use of net-filtering software"
Filtering is not censorship. The content is not being removed: you highly responsible adults will still have free access, and if a child really needs to access a site which has been filtered, they need only ask their parents.
Chris Cheale wrote:
"The internet is not really for kids"
Is that your personal censorship policy? Will you tell Disney, Nickelodeon et al. or shall I?
The word "Kids" doesn't just refer to 15 year olds with some level of judgement and computer savvy. An important problem which really needs to be addressed is not forbidding access but avoiding accidental exposure for younger kids. There are online resources for much younger people - why should they not be allowed to visit the sweet shop just because there's an adult store three shops down? The adult store is very rightly blacked out and they are forbidden entry - is that censorship?
I use the built in OSX email and web filtering which restricts access to domains/email addresses which I have approved. When a non-approved site is accessed it asks for an admin password to approve it. So if a kid really needs that site on sex education it's no problem to grant access when they ask. This works wonderfully for my under tens (and yes, the computer is also in a public space in my house). Unfortunately, this feature is not well publicised and I've had to point it out to several friends who had no idea it is built in.
I know of at least one parent who was horrified to find their kid's email was being spammed with pornographic images advertising Viagra. Receiving this stuff is a joke to the rest of us, but could be fairly horrific for an eight year old who just wants to email their pen-pal/granny etc. Filtering incoming email, including notifying parents of denied mail which they can then choose to admit is a great solution.
"There will also be a review on whether new rules are needed about the marketing of some products to youngsters."
This would be very welcome. Despite being able to limit my kid's access to sites I deem appropriate, there is no way to filter the ads these sites choose to include. Remember, in the UK you can let your kids watch TV before the watershed pretty safe in the knowledge that the adult ads and news have been FILTERED from their view. Or is it CENSORED? No-one complaining about that?
Other media (films, games) are CENSORED already (look for the little red logo with "18" for those of you who missed this nefarious form of censorship). Why shouldn't parents be able to access a trustworthy list of age-ratings for the internet? They can always choose to ignore them as with games and films.
Several angry commenters want to blame parents. So please, let's give parents the knowledge and power to give their kids access to something that I expect most of you would agree is pretty essential in a modern society whilst retaining "parental control". Then, if you want, you can get cross with the ones who don't do it. (Even if that somehow contradicts your hardline "never censor" attitude...)
Steve Brown wrote:
"If parents have a problem, let me just point out they are YOUR kids and they are not MY responsibility. If you cant look after your kids 24/7, that is not MY problem either, it is still YOURS...all censorship should be removed, now."
But I'm supposed to protect your right to keep up with your GILF? (Well I do, lucky you) Maybe your addiction is not my problem...
Moreover I guess you should be allowed to do whatever you want in public (e.g. pornographic adverts on billboards, masturbating on a park bench) on the basis that it's not your problem and I should magically be able to protect my kids from it if I see the need.
You live in a society and accept the benefits of doing so, yet you forget that every person in it was once a kid and that their behaviour as adults is directly related to the things they experience as kids. Your parents must have been God-like in their ability to police you. Or is that why you have a problem with providing for any kind of parental control?