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Google: Responsible parents not new laws will keep children safe online

Google has warned that new laws won’t be able to protect children online unless parents take charge of protecting them from the worst of the Web.

Image by Oleg1975/FlickrMany parents are helping under-age children to join sites like Facebook instead of protecting them, claims a senior figure at the internet giant.

A Parliamentary report has urged for new laws to block access to ‘dangerous’ websites unless subscribers actively opt-in to an uncensored connection.

Naomi Gummer, a public policy analyst at Google, said: “ “The idea that laws can adequately protect young people is a myth. Technology is moving so fast that legislation is a blunt tool for addressing these challenges.

“But also the truth is that parents are complicit in their kids using underage social networking sites. It is about education, not using legislative leavers.”

She also accused campaigners for the compulsory censorship of exaggerating the risks of seeing sexual content online. Google’s search engine automatically applies a SafeSearch filter to exclude adult images unless the user turns it off.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection claims that a third of 10-year-olds have seen adult video or images online.

Gummer told a conference of child welfare experts: “Twenty-five per cent of kids have seen sexual images, but only 14 per cent saw them online.

“Of that, four per cent say they were upset by the images, two per cent of those images are hard-core and violent and the rest is nudity in the same way as perhaps seen in the offline world.”

Alongside several articles featuring partly-dressed men and women, the Daily Mail Online has launched a Block Online Porn campaign to upgrade the nanny state.

Daily Mail mixed messages

But Daily Telegraph readers appeared to support Gummer’s call for responsible parenting, with 89 per cent agreeing ‘it should be up to parents to stop their children watching porn’.

Mobile phone operators O2 and Orange already operate a similar system which prevents adult sites being accessed unless the subscriber unlocks it.

TalkTalk offers subscribers its HomeSafe service when they sign up, which censors all traffic to the connection from ‘dangerous’ sites including pornography, suicide and self-harm.

TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding is the most senior internet figure to support compulsory opt-in access to the internet’s dark side by ISPs. 

Cover image: Oleg1975/Flickr