David Cameron is expected to announce today that all UK homes with internet access will have pornography filters applied by default.
Subscribers will have the option of opting out of the filtering system if they choose, but if no active choice is made, the shutters will automatically come down on the seedier corners of the web.
Previously, the Prime Minister was thought to be in favour of only applying this measure to UK homes with children, meaning parents and legal guardians would have the choice to apply filtering software, but not everyone else.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to Parental Internet ControlsMr. Cameron said in a statement obtained by the BBC: “I want to talk about the internet, the impact it is having on the innocence of our children, how online pornography is corroding childhood.”
ISPs are thought to be in favour of offering unfiltered, uncensored internet access as the default option while making a filtering option available to parents or anybody who wants to use them.
As well a pushing for ISPs to filter access to pornography by default, David Cameron will announce plans to give police greater powers to investigate so-called darknets, anonymized file sharing networks where files are distributed between trusted contacts. He is expected to say: “In the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.”
The Prime Minister is also thought to announce that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) will be given greater authority in this area. This is despite his own government cutting the £6 million CEOP budget by 10 per cent earlier this year.
The UK’s four biggest ISPs have collectively agreed to cough up £1 million to fund the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) and CEOP. Google, which has been criticised for enabling access to child abuse images, has also donated a large sum to cover government cutbacks.
A Google spokesperson said: “We have a zero tolerance attitude to child sexual abuse imagery. Whenever we discover it, we respond quickly to remove and report it.
“We recently donated $5 million (£3.3m) to help combat this problem and are committed to continuing the dialogue with the government on these issues.”
Investment in law enforcement is thought to be a more effective way of taking down online child abuse images. Filtering access to legal pornography will only go so far. Former CEOP boss Jim Gamble told the Today programme on BBC Radio 4: “You need a real deterrent, not a pop-up that paedophiles will laugh at.”
Recently, the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD) which co-regulates on-demand streaming services with Ofcom, suggested that pornographic subscription sites not based in the UK should be blocked and that access to paid porn would only be available to those with a credit card, which you need to be 18 to obtain.
The Online Safety Bill would require ISPs and mobile networks to provide a service that excludes adult content. The Bill had its first reading in the House of Lords this year. No date has been set for future readings.