UK plans to block all porn in effort to ‘protect children’

Fears over Internet freedom as UK plans to expand web censorship

As Britain finds itself in the middle of the political maelstrom surrounding WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange, and the debate over Internet freedom resulting from his arrest on an Interpol warrant, British authorities are stepping up their efforts to wield more control over the Internet.

The UK’s coalition government is discussing a plan that would see all pornographic websites automatically blocked in an effort to keep children from accessing them.

Under the proposed plan, which appears to have the backing of Britain’s major Internet service providers, the government would provide ISPs a list of objectionable websites, which the ISPs would automatically block. An Internet surfer would then have to “opt in” to be allowed to see the content.

Communications Minister Ed Vaizey says it’s a useful step in preventing the premature sexualization of children. He cites a report earlier this year that showed three in 10 British children aged 10 had seen pornography online.

“We are not coming at this from an anti-porn perspective. We just want to make sure children aren’t stumbling across things we don’t want them to see,” Conservative member of parliament Claire Perry said.

But critics say it’s one more step in an effort by governments around the world to seize control of the Internet. They say the system would inevitably be used to restrict access to non-pornographic websites.

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