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Pressure group demands UK apes China net filter plan

Without the political censorship...obviously

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"All computers should be provided with net filtering software loaded - and the default position for such filters should be on." That is the view of Miranda Suit, one of the organisers of Mediamarch - a voluntary group seeking to reduce the harmful effects of the media on our children, families and society.

Ms Suit was speaking to the Reg about the Chinese government’s decision to enforce the fitting of mandatory blocking software on all new PCs supplied within China from July 1. The stated aim of this software would be to block user access to pornography; although many commentators fear that once the capability was in place, it could be used for political censorship as well.

She felt that a filter based on a government-sponsored list of undesirable websites ran the inevitable risk of deteriorating into state censorship and might be a step too far. However it is probably preferable to doing nothing about such a serious problem.

Moreover, the fact that one approach had drawbacks was not a reason to abandon the search for a solution - or to give up hope that something could be done.

"Porn addiction is a serious issue, which neither government nor computer suppliers are currently taking seriously enough," she said.

"At Mediamarch, we are hearing from a growing number of couples whose entire relationship is being put under enormous pressure through what can only be described as an addiction by one partner to internet porn.

"Porn has always existed in one form or another - but the ease with which it can be accessed through the internet completely changes the rules of the game."

This conclusion is backed up with evidence cited on the Mediamarch site that "exposure to pornographic material puts one at an increased risk for developing sexually deviant tendencies, committing sexual offences, experiencing difficulties in one's intimate relationships, and accepting the rape myth".

John Beyer, director of related pressure group, Mediawatch is less convinced. While agreeing that steps need to be taken to restrict the flow of pornography across the globe, he feels that the Chinese solution is overly bureaucratic.

His preferred solution is for a global agreement on what constitutes acceptable content, combined with an ever-growing set of interlocking voluntary agreements by ISPs to restrict access to extreme material. As reported by El Reg earlier this year: this solution also happens to be the solution favoured by Derek Wyatt, MP, Co-Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Communications. ®

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