British Government Softens Stance on Internet Porn Ban

Jan 6, 2012 7:00 AM PST

LONDON — The British government is taking a softer line on blocking porn on the Internet.

Under pressure from some prime ministers and conservative campaigners, the government announced last year that the country’s four largest ISPs — British Telecommunications, Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk — agreed to block adult content.

The “ban” was aimed at protecting children, sparked by a report from Reg Bailey, chief executive of Christian Charity Mothers’ Union.

But after some confusion, it was revealed that the government was asking ISPs for tighter opt-in controls at the point of sale and possibly filtering software.

And now, after pressure that it was trying to censor the web, the government’s anti-porn support appears to be waning even more by calling for parental controls.

“We believe that parents should be provided with wide tools to enable them to voluntarily block harmful and inappropriate content,” said Foreign Secretary William Hague in response to an open letter from Internet freedom groups.

“It is important to distinguish between Government encouraging people to make more use of existing protections as a matter of choice, and the Government deciding what people can and cannot do online," he said in a statement.

“Our plans do not prevent access to legal material, but seek to make it much clearer that protections exist, and to encourage their use," Hague said.

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