What is the Government’s online child protection policy?
Is the Daily Mail in charge of child protection policy making?
I would prefer to be writing an article with a headline that doesn’t have a question mark at the end. But the Government seems to determined to confuse and frustrate those wishing to understand their position on parental controls and Internet filtering.
A month ago we had a clear idea – a response from government that said no to default on filtering.
Now it seems there is a very real danger that the Government will abandon this reasonable policy (which is barely a month old) and look at default on censorship. Ed Vaizey MP yesterday gave a speech suggesting that ‘Protection will automatically be on if parents don’t make choices’. He promised a white paper later in the year that could be the vehicle for this policy.
A little background. In December the Department for Education published its response to the consultation about online parental controls. In it they set out a pretty reasonable position, broadly supporting the idea that parents are best placed to make decisions about the protections necessary in their household, and should be supported in doing so.
We were quite pleased that the Government had seemingly listened to the views of the consultation respondents, looked at the available evidence and come to a decent policy position. They would not be mandating ‘on by default’ Internet filtering.
Only a few days later the Prime Minister soured the mood in an article for the Daily Mail, suggesting that in fact the Government would pursue a much stricter line. It was lightning quick policy scrambling. Whilst he didn’t explicitly mention default on filtering, he did say two things that set alarm bells ringing. As we pointed out at the time: