Google rejects automatic pornography filters

pornography filters
Image: Mike Schreifels CC-BY

Google says it does not support UK government suggestions for ISPs to block access to pornographic content by default. Last month the UK government said the proliferation of mobile devices among children meant parents need a better way to block access to online pornography, and suggested ISPs block such content unless a customer specifically requests access to it. This would prevent access on any of the family’s devices. Google currently offers the SafeSearch filter on its searches, and allows users to switch it from Moderate to Strict, or disable it completely.TalkTalk, a UK ISP which currently offers opt-in filtering to customers, also cautioned against automatic blocking, calling it a “slippery slope”. A danger with filtering is that its use and scope grows over time and more and more types of content are blocked.

Another problem with filtering is false negatives – when sites that should be blocked are not – and false positives – when sites that should not be blocked are blocked. A study by the Open Rights Group found a high number of false positives with mobile phone filtering systems.

Source: BBC News article

Questions:

  1. To what extent is the need to protect children more important than adults’ rights to legally view the content they want? [8 marks]
  2. Who should decide which content is blocked and which is not? Explain the advantages of this being decided by:
    1. The government [4 marks]
    2. Private companies (ISPs) [4 marks]
    3. Individual users [4 marks]

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