by Matt Wardman, Telegraph
Can the Government and internet providers really hope to tackle online porn? And are parents doing enough?
'As a parent, I worry about what our children can get to see when they grab hold of our iPad or log on to the internet,” says David Cameron. The Prime Minister could not be clearer: he wants to make the net safer. Today, therefore, a summit at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport will bring together web companies, internet providers and many others, all aiming to produce tangible results that will ease the minds of anxious parents.
There could be no greater Sisyphean challenge – with young people notoriously savvier online than their parents, sites registered in far-flung jurisdictions and an ever-growing industry aimed at adult tastes and worse, not even China has managed to tame the web. In the West, there’s a near impossible tightrope to walk between freedom of expression and making what used to be called the information superhighway as safe as the high street.
So is it down to parents to set boundaries for their children in a fundamentally unsafe digital world? Couldn’t Google simply filter out anything unsafe for family consumption? And can any government even hope to solve such a global challenge?
First, perhaps, it’s worth establishing where parents already stand: while pornography is easily found online, most children are not interested in accessing hardcore images of extreme or illegal acts. Exposure is more often accidental than it is intended, according to a recent report by the Children’s Commissioner. Vast free adult sites equivalent to YouTube do exist, with more categories than a schoolboy could dream of, but their shocking content is legal. Today’s summit – lasting just 90 minutes – is likely to focus on illegal images.