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Britain's Bold Plan to Protect Kids from Porn Online

Following footsteps of Iceland and India, United Kingdom seeks restrictions on Internet pornography.

An expansive plan to restrict access to pornography in the United Kingdom has been unveiled by British prime minister David Cameron—but critics already are saying it won't help protect children.

Beginning in 2014, the Daily Mail reports, "all 19 million U.K. homes currently connected to the net will be contacted by service providers and told they must say whether family-friendly filters that block all porn sites should be switched on or off." Cameron also seeks to pass legislation that will ban "extreme porn", including simulated rape.

"This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence," he said at a press conference in London.

And he expects Internet giants, including Google and Yahoo, not just to comply but to help, telling them that they have a "moral duty" to act—and threatening sanctions "if they fail to blacklist key search terms for horrific images by October."

Yet, The Daily Beast reported Monday that "the new rules stunned industry insiders who thought a less far-reaching compromise deal had been struck."

In addition, anti-censorship groups already have spoken up against Cameron's propsal. They warn that "sites about sexual health and sexuality could inadvertently get caught up in the ban," which fails to address the "root cause" of the pornography problem, the Independent reports.

Britain isn't the only country that has sought to ban porn in recent months. Iceland previously attempted to ban access to porn, and India also debated a ban as a way to cope with rising sexual violence.

Stateside, such legislative efforts to ban porn are unlikely—especially since the Supreme Court voted to block the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) in 2004.

Craig Gross, founder of XXXchurch, a Christian anti-porn ministry, told CT that the answer isn't banning porn, which would be "a waste of time."

A prime example? Gross cites the introduction of .xxx domains, which offered a chance move all the porn over to restricted domains. However, .xxx domains only created more porn on the Internet, he said.

"We in the States seem to be more concerned about the industry than about where the products go, [but] when you just try and legislate and protest and ban things, you're not getting the core of the problem," he said. "The problem [of porn addiction] is still going to exist whether it's legal or illegal."

Gross also opposed a letter co-written by Princeton professor Robert George to the CEOs of the top five hotel chains last year. The letter asked the hotels to drop pornographic films from their movie offerings, but Gross maintained that doing so wouldn't reduce the problem of porn addiction.

But some ministries, including a new effort from the Southern Baptist Convention called Join One Million Men, do attempt to address the roots of porn addiction. Join One Million Men "calls Christian men to commit to sexual purity and, specifically, to protect themselves and their families from the devastation caused by pornography."

CT has regularly reported on pornography, including a 2008 cover story on "help for the sexually desperate." In addition, CT's women's blog Her.meneutics addressed the "thin line" between trafficking and pornography in 2011.

Posted:July 25, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Britain's Bold Plan to Protect Kids from Porn Online