Frightening government stupidity
Ugh. The DCMS report on controlling internet risk mentioned in the article is truly frightening, showing an ignorance of technology, law, and logic. It's full of bizarre deductive leaps and confusion.
It's scarily pro-censorship but doesn't seem to have a clear idea what it's opposing: jumbling the entirely separate issues of preventing innocent children accidentally coming across unsavoury content and people (paedophiles, terrorists) deliberately seeking out illegal information or images, and slips in random references to cyber-bullying, unsafe chatrooms, paedophile grooming, and other concepts whenever they can be used to justify censorship. The word "potential" or "potentially" appears hundreds of times, and innocuous things (like Second Life) are condemned for "pos[ing] a potential risk to children in real life" - anything from cars to paracetamol pose a potential risk; a sane approach is not to ban anything potentially dangerous but to prevent potential risks from being realised.
You could offer some respect to minister Vernon Coaker, of whom it says: "Mr Coaker, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office, pointed out that it would be a significant step for the law to intervene in an area when no-one had been harmed and no children were involved." Though the very next paragraph points out that his concerns were entirely ignored.
It list the reasons why age verification doesn't work and the negative effects it has, before concluding that more sites should use age verification. It describes how proxies and encryption can be used to circumvent most ISP-level blocks and speculates that blocking technology could soon be rendered ineffective (if it isn't already) but still says the government should coerce ISPs to install such blocks whatever the cost. The fact that MySpace has hundreds of people verifying uploaded content is used as a reason why everybody should employ hundreds of people to do the same.
And companies who use the EC E-Commerce Directive (which makes companies non-liable for user-generated content in some circumstances) to avoid getting sued are told they should not "hide behind the law" (perhaps they feel people who're reluctant to kill paedophiles in the street are likewise hiding behind the law and failing to protect children).
The fact that it goes into raptures over Microsoft's time-lock on the X-Box, which is just a more complex and easily-surmountable version of parents physically picking up a console and locking it in a cupboard, shows how the members are bewitched by the possibilities of technology but utterly unable to assess its value.