Porn filters will soon be illegal in Europe, but the UK has no plans to comply

Matt Burgess at Wired UK: Automatic porn filters will be made “law of the land”, David Cameron has said.

The prime minister’s intervention to bolster porn filtering powers follows the European Parliament‘s introduction of net neutrality regulations, which will ban the current porn filtering agreement. ISPs will now be forced to implement and maintain the controversial porn filters, the government has said.

Critics of the EU bill argued it didn’t provide strong enough protections from companies abusing the management of the internet but widely the decision says the internet should be provided without “interference or discrimination”.

Reports had warned anti-discrimination rules would mean the optional porn filter agreement with ISPs wouldn’t be lawful.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Cameron said he realised the knock-on effect from the EU bill over breakfast. “When I read my Daily Mail this morning, I sputtered over my cornflakes because we worked so hard to put in place these filters,” he told fellow MPs. But as a counter to the EU ruling Cameron reiterated to MPs that it was “vitally important that we enable parents to have that protection for their children”. Cameron continued: “I can tell the House that we will legislate to put our agreement with internet companies into the law of the land so that our children will be protected.”

According to the prime minister the government “secured an opt-out” from the EU to allow the “family friendly filters” to continue for now. It isn’t yet clear when the new law will be introduced.

In 2013 the prime minister put considerable pressure on ISPs to introduce automatic, but voluntary, porn filters. At the time he said every household in the UK would have to opt-out of porn filters by the end of 2014 if they wanted to view the material and that online pornography was “corroding childhood”.

At first the public Wi-Fi networks had filters imposed on them before BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media started to introduce the filters on home broadband connections. 

Sky is blocking adult websites for all customers by default, new BT customers also have filters turned on, and TalkTalk has started to turn the settings on by default.

Previously, the Conservatives have voiced plans to introduced age-verification on “all sites containing pornographic material,” meaning that everyone would need to provide their personal details when wanting to access the material.

Sources:

Wired UK: Automatic porn filters to be made ‘law of the land’

The Independent: EU rules UK’s ‘porn filters’ are illegal

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