David Cameron’s latest big idea is truly inspiring. Well I’m inspired anyway. He has been persuaded by some religious charity that ISPs should make subscribers opt-in to being able to view sexually explicit websites.
Regardless of intentions it is a poor idea for several reasons, as others have pointed out. We have all sorts of web filters on at work, so I have seen first-hand what the drawbacks are, with perfectly fine sites being blocked (false positives) and then a false sense of security leading you to getting truly astonished when something you weren’t expecting pops up on the screen – a colleague was searching for information on the GIMP image editing program with hilarious consequences, for example.
If you are really worried about what kids might see on a computer then why not try parenting instead of delegating that job to machines? We are not yet at a stage where all human problems have a technological solution.
More worrying is knowing that some of the sites deemed unsuitable will be sites giving advice on sexual health, abortions and similar. I imagine that if you are growing up in the house of the sort of person pushing these measures then the internet is about the only place you would be able to get such information. And that is just the foot in the door. How long before the paramaters are widened to include sites of political extremists: something that is very much a matter of subjective opinion.
But still I am inspired by the whole thing because it has given me an idea. Why not say OK, but only if religious sites are included as well? If the argument is going to be used that children are vulnerable and should be protected from brainwashing into thinking that certain things are acceptable before they are old enough to make up their own minds I can’t think of a better example of that than religion.
If that fails then let’s just make sure the Daily Mail website with its dozens of photos of semi-naked almost-celebrities gets included in the net.