UK government starts war on online pornography

The UK's Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his government are worried that online porn is too easy for children to access; the government is also concerned about the large amount of illegal pornography, including images of extreme violence, that exists on the internet. The government want to tackle this problem by having internet service providers (ISPs) block all pornography unless customers “opt out”.

Family-friendly filters will be applied to all customers, banning all pornographic images. Possession of pornography depicting rape and extreme violence will also become a criminalised offence, similar to the current law on child pornography.

More pressure will be put on search engines, such as Google, to take responsibility for the illegal content users are able to access via them. A deadline of October has been set for these search engines to block this content.

Who is this ban trying to help?
The ban is aimed at protecting people at risk of becoming victims of sexual violence. The group of people includes both adults and children. The ban is also meant to limit the amount of child pornography on the internet. Child pornography is banned because it depicts the illegal abuse of individuals who are too young to consent to sex. Some experts and lawmakers believe that it may encourage people who view it to harm children themselves. The government believes that pornography that contains images of violence and rape is similar, because it treats images of extreme suffering as a form of entertainment.

However, Cameron’s suggestion that ISPs and search engines facilitate access to illegal images may be unfair. A lot is already done to prevent access, but companies struggle to eradicate the problem completely as the distribution of these materials tends to be via secretive file-sharing networks, rather than websites.

The Prime Minister also hopes the ban will prevent pornography in general from “corroding childhood”. The main concern is the influence pornography has on young adults, specifically boys. The average age of initial porn exposure to young males is 12. The ban on pornography means that children will not be able to access these images home, and parents will have more control over their children’s online activity.

Will this ban work? Are there ways around it? How far will the ban go and what sort of images will be included within it?

You can get involved in the debate at your local Debate in the Neighbourhood group or you can share your arguments online at

Get in touch with us by email for more information about Debate in the Neighbourhood meetings and training sessions:

Statistics about who looks at online porn and what types of porn they view

A BBC News article about the control of online pornography

Coverage of the government's proposed new laws on online pornography

Syndicate content