Is the UK government about to make a £25 million mistake?

The UK can a funny place sometimes. On the one hand we sexualise people, things, everyday life happenings, indiscriminately but are pretty backwards when it comes to teaching our children about safe behaviours online. Speaking with experts from the Association of Sites Advocating Child Protection (ASACP – a not-for-profit organisation funded by the online adult industry and the Free Speech

Coalition) it’s clear that the UK government may be about to make a broad brushstroke that could cost the taxpayer £50-million or more.

The error surrounds ISP blocking which a report published today points to being close to useless, costly to implement and only dealing with the surface issues of a major problem. In essence, the message is simple; protect your children online by teaching them about what is and isn’t appropriate for them.

Diane Duke, CEO of Free Speech Coalition, believes the UK government has an important decision to make. “The potential for the UK to be a leader in this field is huge. However are [the politicians] truly concerned or is this just political posturing? The best way to protect children is open and honest communication from parents, parent education and promotion of the issue so it becomes mainstream. It is not about fear mongering or ineffective technologies – this is a real issue facing most families right now.”

The report published last week echoes a lot of the recent Ofcom study found in 2011: in essence, ISP blocking doesn’t work (it won’t identify online sex offenders, victims of abuse and it won’t prevent online sex offenders from attempting grooming. Forced IP blocking is also incredibly costly — Talk Talk recently disclosed it spent £25-million developing a pornography filter. The other issue of course is mobile usage and generational issues that go along with this – often the younger members of the family know more about this technology and the filters that are available are not put on. In a world where young people are being put on sex offender lists for sending peer-to-peer adult content in the US, it’s easy to see why we need to sort out this issue (and others surrounding adult content beyond pornography) for now and in the future.

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