By Melanie Phillips, Mailonline
One of the most pressing anxieties of responsible parents is how to stop their children from accessing pornography on the internet.
Nearly three-quarters of nine to 16-year-olds in Britain go online daily. Growing numbers of three and four-year-old children are accessing the net.
So preventing them from stumbling across or even choosing to download internet porn is a very real problem.
There is cross-party support for tougher online controls, reflecting acute parental anxiety.
In a consultation exercise, half of parents said they wanted some content blocked automatically.
So the Government’s proposals, which were slipped out quietly a few days ago on the Department for Education website as if it didn’t want anyone to notice, have left many frankly baffled.
For it said that while access to internet porn would be banned in public places, no such ban would apply to private use.
It has rejected plans — supported by the NSPCC — to block access to ‘adult’ content automatically so internet users would have to opt in to see it.
So children won’t be able to access the stuff in cafes, shops or railway stations, but will be able to do so in the privacy of their own bedrooms. What is the logic of that?
The Government’s arguments are mystifying. It claims, for example, that an opt-in system would create a ‘false sense of security’ because not all harmful content would be screened out, and that it would not combat online bullying of children, abuse or grooming by paedophiles.
What a bizarre argument that because controls would not stop every single undesirable activity it is not worth having any controls at all!
Read also: Children pore over sexual images as their parents watch Downton in the next room… yet ministers do nothing by Harriet Harman, Mailonline
(David Lindsay comments on Harriet Harman's past record concerning children here, and earlier here)