I recently wrote an article about censorship and how the pace of technological advancement had outstripped society’s ability to cope with the perils of our new internet age. My discussion inevitably covered the ground of internet pornography and whether the government in the UK should introduce compulsory internet filters.
I think the debate about censorship and freedom of speech is an important one. We are blessed to live in a democracy and the fact that we can even have this debate at all is a freedom many don’t have. Here are two things I definitely think should happen.
1) More should be done to stop illegal activities online full stop. Child pornography is illegal, rape is illegal, therefore sites showing this content and the people who make it should be stopped and arrested. I think that this is where the debate often gets skewed, because an internet filter may stop children seeing inappropriate images and allow adults who want to view porn involving consenting adults to do so, but it does not prevent or stop extreme porn, child porn or cyber bullying, which is what we are most concerned about. The debate should be framed in the correct terms otherwise the arguments get blurred and no one is really sure what the debate is anymore.
2) More responsibility should lie with sites like YouTube, Dailymotion and Tumblr to stick to their own stated guidelines for content upload. They should be obliged to employ people to filter and take down content that is not legal. If the content is legal, for example softcore pornography, then sites like Dailymotion et al should be more honest about what is and isn’t allowed on their sites and they should make a more strenuous effort to ensure children cannot easily access adult material. It is no good putting the onus on the creator of the content to tick a box to say their content fits the guidelines and it is no good saying “we haven’t got time to filter everything”. They are making lots of money so they should have responsibility over what their product is associated with. For example why can’t they state that scenes depicting a rape but not featuring an actual rape are just wrong and abhorrent, instead of hiding behind meaningless rhetoric.
As people who know me well will testify, I am not the biggest fan of David Cameron or politics in general, but he recently said this about protecting children from inappropriate images, and as a parent it is hard to argue with;
“These should be distinct and precious years, full of security and love, untainted by the worries and complexities of adulthood. From one parent to another, I pledge to do whatever I can to preserve that innocence and protect our children. Nothing matters more.” (Quote taken from The Guardian Newspaper)
Anyway this debate could and will run and run, what do you think? Let me know in the comments section.