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How long until Britain’s anti-porn measures are thwarted? 5 minutes? 10?

Keeping kids away from porn headerHere’s a funny joke: The United Kingdom plans to block Internet porn.

Yep, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is on a conservative crusade to rid his country of the Web’s smutty side. And the first step in his plan requires all 19 million Internet-connected households in Great Britain to actively decide whether they want to “opt in” or “opt out” of a sweeping porn filter imposed by Internet service providers. Those who opt in will reportedly not be able to access any adult content on any device connected to their home Internet.

The new federal regulations will also outlaw all “extreme pornography,” which includes pictures and videos that depict rape. Twitter will be forced to create a tagging system to prevent the spread of user-posted erotica. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center will create a blacklist of “abhorrent” search terms to help stop the distribution of child pornography. And Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo must create plans to filter out child porn from their search results.

It is next to impossible to fully answer the question, What is porn? Try all you like – something is going to, uh, slip through the cracks.

All of this is meant to protect the children, naturally. In a speech on Monday, Cameron declared that “online pornography is corroding childhood,” and that blocking this porn is “how we protect our children and their innocence.”

“Our children are growing up too fast,” Cameron added. “They are getting distorted ideas about sex and being pressured in a way we have never seen before. As a father I am extremely concerned by this.”

Hey, I’m concerned about the Internet distorting my views about sex, not to mention the younger generation’s. And anyone with a soul believes child pornography, or the violent exploitation of anyone, is hideous and should be purged from existence. So bravo for taking such a brave stance, Cameron. Too bad your plan is so full of holes, one might be tempted to make a sex joke about it.

First and foremost, the obvious: Figuring out what is and is not porn won’t be easy. (See Rule 34.) In fact, I would wager it is next to impossible to fully answer the question, What is porn? Try all you like – something is going to, uh, slip through the cracks.

Furries and whatever the Japanese do aside, let’s assume for a moment that the U.K. Porn Police get really good at their jobs. Dang near everything that might make a person randy gets stopped by the ISP filters. That’d be reason to celebrate, right? Bangers and mash for everyone! 

Nope.

The one thing I’ve learned by having four school-age nephews is, they are experts at finding porn. (Full disclosure: I used to be a teenager with an Internet connection myself.) If the military employed teenage boys to track down terrorists by promising that there’d be porn as a reward, we could wrap up the war on terror in three months. 

If the military employed teenage boys to track down terrorists by promising that there’d be porn as a reward, we could wrap up the war on terror in three months.

Remember, these kids were online before they could walk. They have 1s and 0s running through their hormone-crazed, Google-enhanced brains. Throw all the parental settings and ISP filters you can at them – they will get through. And those without the tech savvy to do so will just visit their friend whose hippy parents decided to opt out. What are parents going to do, not let their children leave the house? Kids will find the porn.

So the only people who won’t have access to porn are the people who need it the most – adults. Our Internet skills will inevitably become less astute as time goes on, meaning we won’t know how to crack through the filters. And it’s not like most middle aged people will go to their friends’ houses, and ask to have a bit of me-time. At least, I hope not. Jesus … can you imagine?

Anyway, the real incentive behind this plan is likely far more cynical than it appears on the surface. Cameron might be riding his high horse into the squeaky clean sunset this week, but to think that his no-porn plan isn’t politically motivated requires an astonishing misunderstanding of politicians. Just as Tumblr’s controversial move to thrust its porn-heavy blogs under the rug is a thinly veiled attempt by parent company Yahoo to attract “family friendly” advertisers, so too is Cameron’s porn filtering push a way to appear fiercely pro-kid for his Conservative Party constituents – both are self-serving veneers that are about as functional as edible undies.

Were I a parent, this would be the point in this rant where I tell other parents that it’s their job, not some nanny state’s, to limit their children’s exposure to online pornography, or even the devices that allow them to find it. But I’m not a parent – and that’s a stupid thing to say, anyway. There is no keeping kids from the porn. Instead, we might all be better off knowing what’s out there, and figuring out a way to put it into a context they can understand. Not only would that give our kids a better chance to grow up into healthy adults with healthy adult relationships, but then we’d all have an excuse to look at more porn. Check and mate.