Survey: Most UK Parents Don’t Support Default Web Filtering

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By Stewart Tongue

YNOT EUROPE – A new survey of parents in the UK indicates fewer than one-quarter of households with children support a proposed change in the law that would require internet service providers to filter out pornography and other objectionable material.

Accomplished by international market-research firm YouGov on behalf of British ISP TalkTalk, the survey revealed that only slightly more than 20 percent of UK parents favor mandatory filtering, even if adults are allowed to opt-in to parts of the web children shouldn’t see.

UK internet users already have numerous opt-in content filtering options, but advocacy groups and conservative interests in Parliament and the media would like to see the paradigm shift to a system that requires adults to opt out of filtering. Some rights groups and citizens at large vehemently object to the idea.

“We know filters always block the wrong sites,” said Jim Killock, executive director of the anti-censorship organization Open Rights Group. “Casual mentions of sex get sites blocked. Health education sites are blocked. Even chat sites, bars and clubs are considered reasonable to block for children. So you don’t want to induce adults to live with this sort of filtering. But that is what the [newspaper] Daily Mail and Premier Christian Media have convinced the Department of Education to do.

“We need an outbreak of common sense to stop this before we find the Daily Mail’s Nanny State becomes a reality,” he added.

The survey took place near the end of a public consultation period mounted by the government in an effort to determine public opinion about proposed changes to the law. An earlier survey conducted by British newspaper The Telegraph indicated more than one-third of UK residents support mandatory filtering.

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