August 19, 2014 | Pam Cowburn

Cameron's big stand will have little impact

Yesterday, the Prime Minister David Cameron announced his latest effort to take a 'big stand on protecting our children online'. In a three-month pilot, that starts in October, online music videos will be given an age classification by the British Board of Classification. This rating will be displayed when the music videos are uploaded to YouTube or the music video site Vevo. Cameron claims that such a rating system will bring music videos in line with offline media such as films.

The pilot seems to be designed to give parents guidance and there has been no announcement about plans to use age verification pop ups, presumably because these would be ineffective. As James Ball points out in The Guardian, 'Surely no teenager would dream of using a false birthdate to fox such a system?' 

But there are concerns that after the pilot, the scheme could be extended so that rated content is blocked by 'family friendly' filters that are being promoted to Broadband customers. Cameron refered to filters in his speech yesterday and said that as a parent, "bringing up children in an internet age, you are endlessly worried about what they are going to find online'. As more than 60% of new customers are choosing not to install filters, it seems that the British public don't share his fears or at least don't believe that the solution lies in switching on a filter. 

ORG is continuing to raise awareness of the censorship caused by filters through the Department of Dirty video and the Blocked website, which allows people to check whether URLs are blocked by web filters.

Comments (1)

  1. TheWorldSaysHello!:
    Aug 27, 2014 at 06:07 PM

    ... and once internet content has an age rating, then it would be perfectly reasonable for there to be some kind of age varification process.

    We would demand ID if a young person attempted to buy pornography in a shop, so surely it's perfectly reasonable to insist on a similar process in the virtual World?

    In fact, shouldn't all online content and services be officially rated? Not just media content, but also forums and services? If we want to protect our children from porn, peadophiles and jihad, then only a monster would object.

    ... and for the sake of convenience, maybe some kind of Govt. ID would be useful? We fingerprint browsers to battle online financial fraud, how many genetic markers can we harvest from a webcam? Of course the solution must be proprietary and able to monitor all running processes to ensure the absence of circumvention devices. Maybe GCHQ could help with that?

    Yes, an unfortunate consequence would be the inability to anonymously access the internet, but we need to carefully balance personal freedom and privacy against the need to keep our children safe.

    etc. ..