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Britain votes to protect its porn from government control

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It’s official: The British love their cyberporn as much as they love beans on toast.

Plans to universally block access to porn on the Internet has been rejected by ministers because lack of support by the public, reports BBC News. It would’ve allowed Internet users to “opt in” to see indecent material, but failed to garner much support. Just 35 percent of surveyed parents said it was a good idea.

However, the government decided that Internet service providers (ISPs) should encourage those concerned with seeing indecent material to exercise parental controls. The move left the plan’s leader, Conservative MP Claire Perry, “disappointed.”

More than 3,500 responses were tallied for 10 weeks to see if the law should move forward. Eight hundred of those who argued that ISPs should limit access to porn were parents. Others surveyed were citizens, charities, and academic professionals.

MP Perry hoped her plan would lead to a universal blockade of all Internet porn, enforced by British ISPs. But her plan wasn’t feasible, noted the ISPs, and would create a “false sense of security.” Access to educational websites providing information should sexual health could also be inadvertently blocked. The four biggest U.K. ISPs plan to ask new customers if they want to block indecent material at signup as a compromise.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) called the plan “disappointing” for not implementing a universal blockade against cyberporn.

"The best option to protect children is for adult content to be automatically blocked by internet service providers," said a spokesperson from the NSPCC to BBC News. "Hardcore pornographic videos are just a few clicks away and a quarter of children have been sent unsolicited sexual material online."

Critics charged that the plan gives the government too much control, thus seizing control from U.K. citizens.  

"This is a positive step that strikes the right balance between child safety and parental responsibility without infringing on civil liberties and freedom of speech,” said Nick Pickles from Big Brother Watch, who was against the plan.

"The policy recognises it is parents, not government, who are responsible for controlling what their children see online and rightly avoids any kind of state-mandated blocking of legal content,” said Pickles.

Photo by Michael Francis McCarthy/Flickr