David Cameron is to announce a UK-wide block on online porn today as part of a long debated policy shake-up on child safety on the internet. Online pornography will be blocked by internet providers in every household in the UK unless they opt in to receive it.
Mr Cameron will say in a speech: “I want to talk about the internet. The impact it is having on the innocence of our children. How online pornography is corroding childhood. And how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out.”
Additionally, all online pornography depicting rape, and possession of it, will be illegal, bringing English and Welsh policy in line with that of Scotland. Existing legislation only describes publication.
“Possession of such material is already an offence in Scotland but because of a loophole in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, it is not an offence south of the border,” he is to say. “Well I can tell you today we are changing that. We are closing the loophole – making it a criminal offence to possess internet pornography that depicts rape.”
The move has been welcomed by women’s groups and academics who had campaigned to have “rape porn” banned. Holly Dustin, director of the End Violence Against Women Coalition, said the group was “delighted”. “The coalition government has pledged to prevent abuse of women and girls, so tackling a culture that glorifies abuse is critical for achieving this,” she said.
Other measures expected to be announced by Mr Cameron include new laws to regulate videos streamed online in the UK with the same restrictions as those sold in shops. Search engines will also be given until October to further block illegal content. He will also call for warning pages to display when people try to search for illegal content.
Experts from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) will be given more powers to examine secretive file-sharing networks
A secure database of banned child porn images gathered by police across the country will be used to trace illegal content and the paedophiles viewing it
Family-friendly filters will be automatically selected for all users – who must then choose to switch them off in order to view pornographic content. The new measures will apply to both existing and new customers. Existing internet service users will be contacted by their providers and prompted to make a decision on their filter settings