Real progress has been made in the fight
to protect children from harmful online material.
David Cameron has confirmed that “in the balance between freedom and responsibility we have neglected our responsibility to children” and the Government is committed to rectifying this.
The Government has worked with Internet Service Providers to come up with a voluntary industry agreement to protect children which being called ‘default-on’.
New broadband users will be asked, the first time they connect, whether they want to activate family-friendly filters. These will be switched on as a default unless users ask for them to be removed.
TalkTalk and Sky are now automatically switching on filters for all new broadband account holders and the remaining ‘big four’ ISPs (Virgin and BT) have confirmed they will follow shortly. These providers have also confirmed that all their customers with an existing internet connection will be required to choose whether to switch on a whole home family friendly internet filter by the end of next year.
This is clearly a great step in the right direction but most of the UK’s children’s charities believe that the best way to protect children online is for adult content to be blocked as a default, with adults wishing to receive it opting-in to do so.
We cannot afford to become complacent.
This ‘default-on’ option will not offer the same degree of protection as the ‘opt-in’ option.
- It is a voluntary arrangement and will have no statutory backing
- There are very real concerns about the weak age-verification procedures that the industry proposes
- It is a promise that has yet to be delivered
- Currently it only applies to large ISPs and not smaller ones
The Online Safety Bill has been introduced with the aim of reducing children and young people’s access to inappropriate, potentially harmful, material online.
The Bill, introduced by Baroness Howe, will have its second reading in the House of Lords on 6th December 2013. The Bill has been designed to help parents to parent in an environment which presents some very real online challenges.
First, it helps parents to protect their children from accidentally or deliberately stumbling across inappropriate adult material.
Second, it helps parents to deal with online behavioural challenges like cyber bullying and sexting by requiring that parents are provided with information that will help their children navigate these challenges.
If you agree that these measures would offer children the best protection from harmful online content have your say using the button below