Should There be an Automatic Filter for Pornographic Web Sites? Flash Animation

Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on the 19th December 2012.

The question was whether there should be an automatic filter on pornographic web sites, to protect children from the horrors of nudity and sex. Such content would still be available to adults who explicitly asked for the filter to be removed in their case, and who were not scared of being put on a list of known sex perverts. NB, the British Government had recently announced that it would not make any law to compel an automatic filter.

Sean argues these points:

  • That it should be the right and duty of parents alone to determine what children access on the Internet or generally read and see.
  • That conservative authoritarians deceive themselves when they think the authorities are fundamentally on their side. The moment you ask for a control to be imposed, you put your trust in people you have never seen, who are not accountable to you, who probably do not share your own values, and who will, sooner or later, use the control you have demanded in ways that you find surprising or shocking.
  • That the precedent of filtering access to pornography would soon be applied to filtering “hate speech” – and that this would be used to censor disagreement by Christians with gay marriage, or plain political dissent.

In general, Sean says that there should be no controls on the production or distribution of any sexual imagery that is created by and for consenting adults.

6 responses to “Should There be an Automatic Filter for Pornographic Web Sites?

  1. How exactly do you get onto the shows Sean? Do the BBC go to you or to you have to offer your services?

    Just curious

  2. The objection to this proposal is simple: once someone has to opt in or out of something they become part of an identifiable group against whom both state and private agencies may act . For example, one of the most frequently advocated optring in or out issues is that of organ donation. It might seem harmless at first glance, but you can bet your life that the information would be used to disadvantage those who opted out, for example, by refusing them medical treatment which was available to those who opted in (this could include non-transplant treatment) or through the releasing the information to insurers who might decided to charge more to someone on the register because those not on it were deemed to have a stronger sense of self-preservation.

    In the case of ponorgraphy the dangers are two. First, there is no objective test for what is or is not pornography. Anything might be classified as such on a state whim. Think back to when cameras had film to be developed and recall all the cases of parents being accused of child abuse because they had taken photos of their children in the bath etc. Second, those who opted in would be identifiable. That could lead to such information becoming part of a CRB check or render a person liable to police investigation. It could also be used to blackmail people or ruin their careers.

  3. I am incline to agree on this,issue, firstly all computors now are fitted with
    child locks so there’s no excuse to say children can access porn sites, this
    argument is rediculous, it makes the parents look stupid to such arguments
    across when a click of the mouse and a few buttons pressed with effectively
    eliminate the probem, obviously having traveled through europe, I find in
    britain particulary, there is a rather victorian attitude to sex, not so much
    seen abroard, even in south america in some countries they are far more
    liberal in their veiw points. Britain has a poor history on sex education and
    many people hold the veiw they are backward in this area, a classic and
    good example of this came to light some years ago when the police were
    having a crackdown on prostitutes, claiming the sexual behaviour was a
    shameful example of public behaviour, it was then disclosed in the press
    the police themselves arresting the prostitutes had been having sex with
    them in the cells, the articals published exposed hypocracy and costly
    compensation to the victims, obviously, adult hetrosexual films are not
    illegal to watch, and you cannot be punished for doing so, on the other
    had perverts who watch or engange in child porn are effectively criminals
    under the law, for obvious reasons, of course it is understandable for
    parents wanting to protect children, quite rightly so, i would my own, but
    it remains the situation is in their own hands through the use of parent
    locks, so no change in the law would achieve anything whatsoever. It
    might be said, would the banning of cars be a reasonable response to
    vehicle theft, of course not, parents must use the safegards already in
    place, that is why they are there!

  4. Of course the government at the moment are looking at ways of controling computor data and usage, and are keen to get access to confidential data, of course again they use the age old terrorist arguments for doing so, but that argument holds no salt because the government are already getting easy access to any terror suspect computor data, and employ people to monitor computors in these areas, there is a rather sinister motive by the government on this, firstly if they do decide to access computors they will probably arrest you for anything they find, as with stop and search, it could amount to anything, such as tax matters, or emailing a friend saying you forgot to tax your car, admitting you parked on double yellow lines, in a democracy such things must be resisted, if they become law we all lose of basic freedom and become victims of control via a dictorial state insrument of government.