Family Safe Filters & Child Abuse Images
Yesterdays announcement by David Cameron highlights his personal and political interest in keeping children and young people safe. Â I don’t think many could really argue that this isn’t a good thing.
Mr Cameron made two major announcements today. Â Firstly his government would like to stamp out images and videos of child abuse on the internet. Â They hope to further empower organisations like the IWF and CEOP to extend their good work. Â The IWF will be able to pro actively search for illegal images, rather than wait for a member of the public to report them as well as extend their search to other file sharing networks not just the world wide web. Â A central police database will be created – bringing data held by various districts. Â In theory, a good plan.
The proposals also include asking, and possibly forcing, the big internet search engines into refusing to deliver results for searches which could (or are very likely to) result in links to child abuse images. Â However Mr Cameron has already stated that these images are often distributed on alternative networks, not the world wide web. Â Only the least technically sophisticated paedophile would be thwarted by these methods. Â The efforts seem to be misguided. Why not just increase funding to CEOP and IWF to untangle these encrypted, private networks and discover the individuals managing and funding them?
Mr Cameron’s second announcement was all about ‘porn filters’ at home. Â The major internet service providers (ISPs) will supply a filter to block porn sites, unless the account holder (who must be over 18) asks for it to be removed. Â New accounts created in 2014 will have “one click protection”. Â This statement is extremely naive.
We can’t say for certain what technology will be used to power these filters. Â The ISPs will want them to have little effect on the speed of your connection, for fear of you leaving for another ‘faster’ supplier. Â URL filtering is the least processor hungry method, but the black list is only as good as it’s latest update. Â Many sites will get through – many sites will be mis-categorised. Â Some tech savvy youngsters could start to look at filter avoidance methods and open themselves up to ‘the dark internet‘.
I don’t want my children accessing pornography at their age, but equally I don’t want them accessing pro-anorexia or racial hate sites either. Â Neither of which have come under Mr Cameron’s crusade.
I have guided my children in the use of the internet. Â I remind them to keep their details private, to never click links they don’t understand and to speak with me if something upsets them. Â The ISPs filter are in danger of making parents feel as if they don’t need to protect their children any longer – the government has taken care of it. Â This could put our children and young people into a much more dangerous position.
I have placed some filtering software on the laptop my children use for homework. Â This allows me to monitor the sites which they have visited – and gives me the opportunity to highlight any possible issues. Â Mr Cameron’s statement makes no suggestion that anyone will be able to monitor their families usage. Â A cautious parent using internet monitoring technology and constant guidance keeps children safe – it’s far more complicated than clicking a button.
I’m relieved to see that the Prime Minister has also highlighted that education of internet safety is also very important. More than that, he goes on to say that we need to teach how to behave online too – both things I personally feel very strongly about.
Some good sounding intentions Mr Cameron, but it feels like headline grabbing statements rather than well thought out policies I’m afraid.
Please feel free to comment.