There’s been a lot in the news about the Government’s Safety Summit where a number of consumer ISPs and online entities (such as Google) have been asked to attend a meeting to discuss how they can do more to prevent people accessing illegal online child abuse material.
Sometimes when this kind of news hits our screens I don’t bother to comment. It seems like every man and bonzo gets their word in.
It is worth however emphasising a point made this morning by The Today Programme on BBC Radio4 which was that there are two issues here. One is accessing illegal child abuse material and the other is preventing children accessing legal pornography.
Access to illegal online child abuse material is totally wrong and the ISP industry already works to stop accidental access to this stuff via the Internet Watch Foundation which produces a list of sites to be blocked. Most of these sites reside outside the UK and really it needs a concerted global Government effort to take them down. They should discuss it at this week’s G8 Leaders’ Summit.
Consumer ISPs have measures in place to block access to these sites where they are known. However the nature of the internet being what it is all that these measures do is to prevent someone accidentally landing on an illegal page. The determined sicko will easily find a way around the blocks. Interesting to note the BBC report that the Government has actually cut funding in the area of online child protection (CEOP).
There may be a discussion to be had with Google and other search engines (are there any others?) re how they themselves prevent illegal material coming up in search results but it seems to me that the real issue here is how we identify the sites so that they can be included in the IWF list and ultimately taken down.
The issue of how to prevent kids accessing porn is totally separate.