Irish ISPs Lash Out at British Porn Opt-In Plan

Feb 7, 2012 8:00 AM PST

DUBLIN, Ireland — The Internet Service Providers Association of Ireland (ISPAI) is knocking Britain’s new plan that requires surfers to opt-in to access porn, calling it “nothing less than censorship.”

The new British plan was devised to protect children from explicit online material, but the ISPAI said the responsibility should lie with parents policing what their children view on the web and not the business of the U.K. government.

Subscribers to four of Britains major ISPs now have to opt-in in order to see adult content.

"If Internet service providers are dictating what can be accessed, then that could be seen as nothing less than censorship. Essentially we would be deciding what would be the inappropriate material. That should be left to the parents or guardians," the ISPAI’s Paul Duran told the Irish Independent.

The ISPAI represents 20 ISPs in Ireland including Eircom, O2, Vodafone and UPC.

Critics of the British move said there are a number of practical issues that are being overlooked and need to be addressed.

The restrictions could lump in websites that do not contain sexually explicit material.

Digital law expert JP McIntyre said, "Many of these blocking issues are easy to circumvent, but what they do tend to do is damage people who have been wrongly blocked. You'll find that shops selling things like lingerie get blocked by these filters,"

He added, "Very often there are no appeal mechanisms or they are very hard to use and in the meantime people find that their businesses are suffering because people can't access their sites and they don't know why."

The ISPAI’s outcry may be a move by the organization to head off a similar plan by Irish lawmakers.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that the U.K. was "further ahead" in its efforts to protect children from adult content, but refused to comment on whether there were any plans to persuade Irish ISPs to adopt the British model.

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