David “tough on masturbation, tough on the causes of masturbation” Cameron has admitted that his crack-pot crusade to purge the net from porn is about as effective as a chocolate teapot.
According to the Daily Telegraph , Cameron is getting much mockery over his plan to save children from the perils of porn, but he will press ahead with it anyway.
He already had to climb down after it was pointed out that the Sun should be filtered for running page three. Cameron needs Sun readers.
The problem is that if page three is not banned then the internet filter is going to be completely arbitrary and pointless and won’t prevent children from seeing naked women at all.
If it was possible for Cameron to look even more ignorant and disconnected with this law he certainly managed it.
His cunning plan was based around the idea that ISPs had agreed to introduce family-friendly filters that automatically block pornography unless customers chose to opt out. Unfortunately it was fairly clear that the ISPs had done no such thing, and some were still lobbying the government to tell it to sling its hook.
Cameron’s plans were criticised by anti-censorship groups, who warned that sites about sexual health and sexuality could get caught up in the ban. Other critics warned that censorship sets a dangerous precedent, is more about control, and that the government could go further than pornography.
While Cameron was thinking “what about the children” he failed to realise that the technology to ban internet porn was impossible. Anyone who wants to watch porn will simply use a proxy site in another country and the whole thing will be a waste of time.
Take, for example, blocking the Pirate Bay. Although ISPs must legally oblige, a simple Google search will get anyone who wants it to a proxy in seconds.
Cameron admitted that there might be a few “problems down the line” with the system particularly as he has already ruled out “soft” or written pornography from the scheme entirely.
This makes any internet filter, short of the great firewall of China, technologically unviable. Even in China it is still possible for people to see porn.
To make matters worse the former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP), Jim Gamble, said Cameron’s plan to tackle child abuse images by removing results from search engines like Google would be “laughed at” by paedophiles.
Paedophiles get their porn from peer-to-peer, not from Google, and arrests are too few.
Gamble said that if Cameron really wanted to protect kids from paedophiles he should be investing money in child protection teams, victim support and policing on the ground.
Under Cameron’s plans all households will have to “opt out” of automatic porn filters, which would come as standard with internet broadband and cover all devices in a house.
Possession of the “most extreme forms of porn” will become an offence, while online content will have the same restrictions as DVDs sold in sex shops.
Search engines have been told they will have to redact results from specific searches, while anyone accessing websites shut down by the police for containing such images will see a message warning them that what they are doing is illegal.
But it is fairly clear that Cameron really did not have a clue which legal sites should be banned by the filters and was blaming the technology for having weaknesses.
Talking to the Beeb, Cameron claimed that the filters could evolve over time. He thinks that companies are going to design what is automatically blocked.
What’s more alarming is that Cameron wanted to create marital strife by embarrassing “a husband” who wanted to see porn. Never mind that a “husband” also might not like the idea of Cameron censoring his internet connection.
Cameron’s moves are even hitting at his own conservative core. While there are the usual Daily Heil readers who want everything to be banned other than pictures of royal babies, many conservatives see censorship as a nanny state intervention.
As Daniel Foster, founder of web hosting company 34SP, pointed out, claiming porn is ‘corroding childhood’ is particularly extreme. Since Cameron criticised Labour for operating a nanny state, this reeks of hypocrisy, he said.
Cameron was even attacked by one of his former female MPs, Louise Mensch, for attempting to ban video containing rape simulation.
She suggested such fantasies were common in more than half of all women and it was not up to the government to police that.
Cameron will have his work cut out explaining why he is making such an incredibly unpopular move for absolutely no political advantage at all. Similar moves in Australia were abandoned because they were seen as too politically stupid – and they didn’t work anyway.