Online porn 'opt in' proposed to ISP's: Could a divided web work?

Summary:A British MP wants an opt-in system to access online pornography to 'protect children'. Logistically this is difficult, and socially this could have a knock-on effect to the younger Generation Z.

A British MP suggests that ISP's should create an opt-in system for pornography, creating a divided web allowing those who want to be able to access pornography to give their Internet provider the heads up.

In the last few days, however, the Culture Minister Ed Vaizey has vetoed the request made by the Member of Parliament, stating that the government will not intervene in such a way to prevent young people from accessing explicit material online.

A study shows that a third of under 10's has been exposed to pornography on the web. The same report states that four out of five children aged 14 to 16 regularly access pornography. But as Violet Blue, ZDNet's Tech Broiler points out, these statistics are incredibly hard to come by.

The Generation Y and upcoming Generation Z are 'the porn generation', with more young people today accessing online pornography than any other demographic before the 1990's.

This is a significant area of research while I continue to study for my degree; the 'sexualisation' of young people through the vast progression of media sources in the last thirty years, children's rights and the study of child protection.

There are many questions to consider before simply striking a 'yes' or 'no' decision based on your own experiences, values, and morals and suchlike. Who should be the one protecting children: the state, or the parent? Who should be to blame for accessing pornography online: the child, the media sources, the ISP or the parent once again? Is sex something children should not be exposed to - and define 'child' exactly?

When taking two tiered ages of majority - 16 and 18, I suspect the vast majority of people will accept that children aged 15-17 accessing pornography is not the worst thing in the world. On the other hand, children around the ages of 10-13 and under browsing to such sites would be horrifying.

So where is the line drawn?

The problem is that we live in an 'either or' society; contemporary abolitionism is the main focus of how we criminalise and legitimise branches away from the quintessential norms of our everyday living. We can either ban all pornography, or we can leave things as they are - on an ad-hoc, accessible basis. Equally, we can legalise all drugs and scrap the tiered system of classification, or ban it all and prosecute everyone equally and fairly. You get the idea.

Pornography on the whole is not a bad thing, the Generation Y would argue on the whole. Even the extremes which cause harm to others, whether willingly or otherwise could be argued as such. It's an incredibly controversial, subjective view to hold, and everybody holds it in different lights.

If you are to block porn off completely, then how far can this trend spread? Academic freedom dictates the ability to learn without restriction, though terrorism, the study of online child sex abuse and nuclear physics and weaponry are contentious issues are still available to be read and studied.

Nevertheless, it should be down to the parent - someone who cares about their child's welfare, knows their child best, and communicates with on a personal level, to block sites on their home computer, monitor usage and to ensure that the child is remaining safe online while in their primary learning years.

Logistically to split the web into 'porn on' and 'porn off' is far from easy and would cost more than the UK can cope with in these dire economic times.

What do you think? Should the web be split into porn and no porn?

Topics: Government, Apple, Microsoft, Patents

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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