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UK Prime Minister Announces Changes to Protect Children From Porn

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By Jeff Schapiro, Christian Post Reporter
July 23, 2013|5:09 pm

Prime Minister David Cameron announced on Monday several ways in which the U.K. plans to crack down on online pornography, saying it is important to protect children from even legal explicit content.

"Our children are growing up too fast," the text of Cameron's speech reads. "They are getting distorted ideas about sex and being pressured in a way we have never seen before. As a father I am extremely concerned by this."

In order to begin fixing the problem, adult content filters will automatically be put onto all smartphones, Cameron said. Smartphone users who wish to deactivate the filter will have to first prove they are 18 years of age or older.

Six of the nation's public Wi-Fi suppliers have also agreed to apply "family-friendly" filters on public Wi-Fi networks where children are likely to be present, and will have the filters in place by the end of August. U.K. businesses will also be able to let patrons know their Wi-Fi networks are filtered by displaying a new "Family Friendly Wi-Fi" symbol.

The U.K. government has also taken steps to protect children in their homes as well. By the end of the year, the option to install a family-friendly filter will automatically be selected by default anytime someone sets up a new broadband account with one of the nation's largest ISPs. Adults will, however, have the option of turning the filter off during the setup process. Also, to prevent children from turning the filters off, the account holder will be the only person who can change the filter settings.

By the end of 2014, Cameron said, the nation's largest at-home ISPs will have also contacted their existing customers and asked them to decide whether or not to install the content filters in their homes. Filters will also be applied to all devices used on a home network, so users will no longer have to download them to each device.

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Cameron, citing a survey, said one quarter of children say they've seen pornography that upset them. More than a third of children have received a sexually explicit email or text.

"Children can't go into the shops or the cinema and buy things meant for adults or have adult experiences – we rightly regulate to protect them," Cameron's speech reads. "But when it comes to the Internet in the balance between freedom and responsibility, we have neglected our responsibility to our children.

"My argument is that the Internet is not a side-line to 'real life' or an escape from 'real life;' it is real life. It has an impact: on the children who view things that harm them on the vile images of abuse that pollute minds and cause crime on the very values that underpin our society. So we have got to be more active, more aware, more responsible about what happens online."

In his speech, Cameron also addressed how the government will work to reduce illegal child pornography on the Web. The government will give more power to certain agencies to investigate those who use the so-called "hidden-Internet" to exchange illegal porn and will create a single, secure database of illegal images that will allow law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to better work together on catching pedophiles.

A new British and American task force is also forming to help rid the Web of child pornography, and Google, Yahoo and Microsoft are already in the middle of a campaign in Britain to deter those who are searching for such illegal images. Although Cameron could not share details about the campaign, he said it is "robust," "hard-hitting" and "a serious deterrent."

Reported illegal images are already being immediately blocked by search engines and ISPs so people can no longer access those sites. Pages where illegal images were found are now being replaced with pages warning users that illegal child abuse content was previously posted there. Cameron said he hopes those pages will, in the future, also warn users about the consequences of accessing illegal pornography and direct them to the "Stop It Now" campaign, which "can help them change their behavior anonymously and in complete confidence."

Cameron also called on search engines to take more responsibility for the content they deliver, though he emphasized that parents, the government, charities and other organizations all have a role to play in keeping children safe on the Internet.

 

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