David Cameron wants UK ISPs to introduce a ‘report button’ that will let users report extremist sites and content.
The Prime Minister told the Australian Parliament in Canberra that service providers needed to do more to help combat the influence of terrorist organisations including the Islamic State.
Parental controls, which allow users to blacklist and block sites, are now offered as standard to all new customers of the UK’s biggest ISPs.
Cameron said: “A new and pressing challenge is getting extremist material taken down from the internet. There is a role for government in that. We must not allow the internet to be an ungoverned space.
“But there is a role for companies too. In the UK we are pushing them to do more, including strengthening filters, improving reporting mechanisms and being more proactive in taking down this harmful material.”
Since the rise of the Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS and ISIL, radicalised British Muslims, some of them teenagers, have travelled to Iraq and the Levant to fight. It’s thought that 30 British jihadists have been killed so far. The Islamic State’s use of social media has been credited with drawing British citizens into the conflict.
Details of the Prime Minister’s plans are vague at the moment but the UK’s main ISPs are said to be working on a solution. A TalkTalk spokesperson said: “We are committed to working with the Government to help address extremist content and are exploring ways to achieve this.”
It’s thought that a ‘report button’ service, similar to the one operated by CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) could be rolled out. This allows citizens to report websites and instances of child sex abuse online.
BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk have all enabled parental controls as standard for new customers. The UK’s biggest ISPs are also currently in the process of asking existing customers if they would like to have parental controls applied.
The settings of the various parental control offerings differ slightly but all of them come with the ability for parents to block or allow specific sites.
Unfortunately for the Government, figures from telecoms regulator Ofcom suggest that parents aren’t as interested in parental controls as they might like and they can also be easily bypassed.
Jim Killock, executive director of privacy campaigners Open Rights Group added: “Given the low uptake of filters, it is difficult to see how effective the government’s approach will be when it comes to preventing young people from seeing material they have deemed inappropriate.
“Anyone with an interest in extremist views can surely find ways of circumventing child friendly filters.”
Killock also called for clarity on what the Government considers extremist and how site owners incorrectly blacklisted can seek redress.