Online pornography blocks welcomed

David Cameron's plans to introduce an automatic block on internet pornography unless households choose access have been welcomed.

The Prime Minister unveiled the block in a speech today in which he warned that online pornography was "corroding childhood".

He said parts of the internet were a "direct danger to our children" that "must be stamped out". 

These include websites with child abuse images and extreme pornography.  

"The fact that many children are viewing online pornography and other damaging material at a very young age and that the nature of that pornography is so extreme, it is distorting their view of sex and relationships," he said.

"Of course, a free and open internet is vital. But in no other market – and with no other industry – do we have such an extraordinarily light touch when it comes to protecting our children.

"Children can't go into the shops or the cinema and buy things meant for adults or have adult experiences – we rightly regulate to protect them.

"But when it comes to the internet in the balance between freedom and responsibility, we have neglected our responsibility to our children."

Under plans unveiled by the Prime Minister, internet pornography will be automatically filtered by internet providers for new customers by the end of the year, although they can opt-in to receive it.

For existing customers, they will choose whether or not they want to have the "family-friendly" filters activated.

Once installed, the filters will cover any device connected to the home internet account.

Search engines will be required to introduce measures that block illegal images and material coming up in search results.

The Government will also work with police forces to form a single secure database of illegal images of children to help them identify paedophiles.

Baroness Howe, whose Online Safety Bill is before Parliament, welcomed the measures, although she cautioned that they would not be effective without "robust" age verification.

"Of course it will be important to monitor implementation, and we must not count our chickens before they have hatched, but today is a good day for all of us who have long campaigned for child safety online. I congratulate the Prime Minister on taking this strong stand," she said.

The SafetyNet campaign for tighter controls on internet pornography, being run by Premier Christian Media and Safermedia, was positive about the Prime Minister's announcement but also warned that the measures needed to be implemented.

"We are looking to this Government to take decisive action to halt this blatant and relentless assault on young and impressionable minds," said Premier chief executive Peter Kerridge.

"Our many allies and supporters can justifiably congratulate themselves on a campaign well-fought but, until these proposals are implemented, we shall maintain our vigil to combat the open door to pornography and depravity and its impact on the innocence of our children."

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