Re: If you fancy a laugh have aread of Claire Perry MP's site
This is what I wrote to her a few days ago - much less beligerent since I assumed she would be getting many adversarial e-mails already. I tried to make it sound like I was sort of on her side (at least at first)
Dear Mrs Perry,
Whilst I applaud your desire to protect children from harm on the internet I believe your opt-in filter will actually have the opposite effect. I agree that pornography may have the potential to psychologically damage children and that they should be protected from such images. However there are other dangers on the internet which have already resulted in children suffering real physical harm, including rape, murder and suicide.
If your campaign to implement an opt-in filter for pornography succeeds parents could feel that it is OK to allow their children access to the internet unsupervised. Unfortunately this is unlikely to ever be safe.
The internet is not like television in any way. It is built on an entirely different paradigm. Just because we can now stream mainstream media content over the internet you shouldn't assume it is in anyway similar because that ability is not limited to oligarchs and large corporations.
I could set up a website url which anyone could access showing the live stream from my webcam in just a few minutes for example. In addition that website url (and even the underlying IP address) could be changed to a new one within a few seconds if someone decided to try & block the content.
Even then, any blocking put in place is trivial to circumvent in a number of ways; proxy servers, https protocols and virtual private networks for example. All of these technologies are vital to e-commerce and international business and so can not really be regulated against without severely impacting the economy and usefulness of the internet as a whole.
In addition the internet is much more than the web (http /https protocols) there are peer to peer networks, ad-hoc networks, ftp, smtp, ssh, and hundreds of other protocols for communication.
If I can give you an example - Virgin Media have already implemented the recent court order to block The Pirate Bay. Websites, forums and chat rooms are already full of trivial 2 minute work-arounds that enable virgin media customers to access the site instantly. This is despite Virgin Media using BT's Cleanfeed system which is used by the IWF to block child pornography. I think you can see this has another detrimental effect, which is that now hundreds of thousands of people are learning methods to circumvent the Cleanfeed system potentially exposing thousands more to Child Pornography.
The Real Danger
The real danger to children is simply the ability to communicate with billions of strangers from all over the world, not just by text (e-mail,forums,social networks, instant messaging, IRC servers) but also voice over IP and webcams. Allowing a child unsupervised access to the internet is like allowing them to wander through the backstreets of any major city in the world.
In real life we tell our children not to talk to strangers, but by allowing unsupervised access to the internet parents are encouraging their children to do just the opposite. How many reports are there of teenagers (and in fact adults) being harmed by going to meet strangers online? Or being blackmailed to perform on webcams? Or being groomed by paedophiles in chat rooms? These are not the result of being able to access pornography but simply the same social manipulation that humans have used on each other since we developed language.
The only real way to keep children safe on-line is to control their access to the internet as a whole. Obviously there is no effective means of doing this, however by introducing legislation which bans children under a certain age group from using the internet unsupervised you would at least be sending the right message which is that the internet is an adult environment not suited to unsupervised children in an way.
If I can summarise my points
Opt-in pornography filter
huge cost to ISPs - and eventually consumers
ineffective and trivial to circumvent
gives parents a false sense of security
while learning to circumvent this filter, they also learn to circumvent child pornography blocks
children pass information in other ways, it only takes one to bypass the filter & then everyone can.
Law banning under 18's from unsupervised access to the internet
probably impossible to enforce.
sends a message that the internet is not safe for children.
I find it almost impossible to believe that no experts haven't already pointed out these issues to you, but I haven't seen, heard or read this points discussed in any media coverage and would like to know how you intend to deal with the social manipulation aspects of freely allowing your child to communicate with billions of stranger without supervision?
Your faithfully, etc...
Although my blog is less understanding of her viewpoint...