CDA verdict won't affect UK fight for Net decency

The collapse of the Communications Decency Act in the US will have no bearing on the fight against child pornography and online obscenities in the UK, according to Metropolitan Police superintendent for vice, Martin Jauch.

The Act, which was dismissed by the US Supreme Court as violating the First Amendment, was "too restrictive to Internet users," said Jauch, who added that "it sought to place more restrictions on the Internet than currently exist for printed material. We would never call for that in the UK."

Jauch said that the Obscene Publications Act in the UK works well and "people would be surprised how applicable it is to the Internet. We're not looking for any further legislation."

Nigel Williams, director of UK-based pressure group ChildNet International said that the CDA was "not quite a quick fix, but certainly a government fix to the problem." Williams added that more needed to be done to protect children and that legislation was not necessarily the answer. "We're now in a probationary period," he said. "There is no complete solution and therefore everyone has to chip-in."

ChildNet will launch proposals at next month's Global Communications conference in Bonn, Germany to make governments, ISPs, browser developers and parents work together. Williams said that no one body can take full responsibility and cited firms such as SurfWatch, which is working to make its site-blocking software 90 per cent effective. "If you're a parent will you accept 90 per cent effectiveness?. Probably not." Williams also welcomed Bill Gates's claim that Microsoft is taking the lead in site ratings but added, "I challenge any parent with little experience of the Internet to find the security measures."

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