The UK government is set to pass laws that will mean all pornography is filtered by default by internet service providers unless customers specifically request to be allowed to view it through an “opt-in” option.
Aiming to protect children, the move will also outlaw the possession of images or videos depicting rape (simulated or otherwise), and aims to crack down on the distribution of child pornography over the net.
“I want to talk about the internet,” reads Cameron’s statement, which has been issued to the press in advance.
“The impact it is having on the innocence of our children. How online pornography is corroding childhood.
“And how, 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.
“I’m not making this speech because I want to moralise or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence.”
The blocks will come into place over the next two years, with ISPs to be required to set up the filters. Customers setting up a new broadband account this year will be required to make the decision to opt in or out of pornography access by the end of this year however.
The decision to block internet porn by default is likely to prove a contentious one, with some seeing it as an infringement upon the open qualities of the web, while others wonder just how effective the policies will be overall.
“David Cameron’s clampdown on porn […] is at best, more misguided regulation by those who don’t understand it and at worst, a cynical ploy to appease a public who feel betrayed,” said Daniel Foster, founder of web hosts 34SP.com.
“Forcing search engines to block access is wholly ineffective, simply because the types of image targeted in this announcement are invariably shared over private networks and not found by a simple image search. Blocking current search terms will only lead to new ones being used – the offenders will offer a constantly moving target.”