back to article Kids online: Parents need to regulate, says Ofcom

Parents should take greater responsibility for what their children get up to on the internet, according to Jeremy Olivier, Ofcom’s Head of Convergent Media. Richard Mollett, Director of Public Affairs for the BPI went a step further. He said: “When it comes to copyright issues, parents may no longer be able to use ignorance as …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Fury... rising....

    "Was there a single reason they could advance as to why all new PCs should not come with optional porn filters on as default?"

    How about freedom?

    Is that concept null and void completely now? And I love how porn is automatically associated with a criminal act! I take it that all jazz mags will be removed from shop shelves, all adult stores selling clothing/movies and other devices will be shut and all teenagers fitted with Star Wars style restraining bolts which won't get removed until menopause! (Actually, that last one might not be such a bad idea!)

    Can all these idiots please be sat in a room whilst all of us with even the slightest dose of common sense line up ala Airplane to slap them silly(ier!)

  2. jake Silver badge

    Internet censorship & kids

    Censoring the internet for kids in an automatic manor is a non-starter. It can't be done. I know ... I helped develop the network we now call "The Internet" ... It was designed right from the git-go to share information, not to suppress it. Even back in the mid '70s we were using what we now call "proxies" to get around filters[1] ...

    Kids are kids. They are curious about everything. And as kids mature and hormones start doing what hormones are supposed to do, they start getting curious about sex. It is normal to the human condition, despite various holier-than-thou groups trying to suppress this normalcy.

    The ONLY way to ensure you know what your kids are doing online is to watch over their shoulder as they do it. Harsh? Perhaps. But that's reality in The Big City that is today's 'net.

    Note that I am not commenting on the right/wrong of curious kids doing curious kid stuff ... just that kids will do what kids will do if given the opportunity ... YOU did, right? Why are you surprised that your kids do the same?

    [1] Sorry again for making the ASCII BJ shell prompt at Tressider, Vint ;-)

  3. Edwin

    Wow - sensibility!

    Great news! Although I know plenty of parents who would either:

    * prefer to point the finger elsewhere (not that this would stop them doing so)

    * happily teach their kids how to use torrents for massive copyright infringement

    (disclaimer: I am a parent, and my kids are learning that they have to pay for their music/software/films, despite the fact that many of their friends do not seem to need to do so)

    On the porn filter twit: if she pays for it, then that's fine.

    Otherwise, no.

  4. groovyf
    Paris Hilton

    Surely not....?!

    Parents taking responsibility for what their children do? It'll never catch on you know.

    Paris, because you know she's a responsible woman...

  5. al

    On by default ?

    Pr0n filters ON by default ? Jeez.. are you planning to kill the internet or something ?

  6. Ash
    Thumb Up

    Can I be the first to say...


    It was a clear black night, a clear white moon,

    I was checking YouTube for the latest pop tunes,

    "The DSL is lagged, I can't get no sound,

    My brothers' P2P has dragged the whole net down!"

    "My kids are little thieves, they rob the record stores!

    Instead of paying for music, they download more and more,

    I wish i'd said something sooner; it's too little too late,

    Someone one should have taught me how to REGULAAAAAAAATE!"

    We need an icon of the Office Mum holding a patch lead with a scornful look on her face for "parents taking resopnsibility."

  7. adnim

    A revelation?

    "Parents should take greater responsibility for what their children get up to on the internet, according to Jeremy Olivier, Ofcom’s Head of Convergent Media."

    OFCOM department of the obvious.

    I understand that OFCOM is tasked with protecting consumers from harmful or offensive material amongst other things, so where is their sense of duty with respect to Phorm?

    Strict censorship of the Internet is required urgently, children desperately need protecting from reality. Please shield their eyes and swathe them in cotton wool. This approach is far easier than talking to them about sensitive subjects and trying to explain in language they understand how the world works.

    Oddly enough I as a parent were fully aware of my responsibility with regard to the nurturing of my child, and explaining the truths behind what he was exposed to whilst accessing the Internet during his formative years. Thanks to my attention to detail and unerring support he is now a confident and levelheaded young man.

    Oddly enough I as a parent were fully aware of my responsibility with regard to the nurturing of my child. By denying him access to certain websites, telling him how sick and perverted pornography is and answering his queries of "why?" with "because I said so" in addition to punishing him severely for masturbating, he now has more hangups and psychological problems than one can shake a leather studded paddle at.

    I don't need a third party telling me what is right and wrong or how to raise my children. Those that do and there are a fair few out there, check teenage crime stats, shouldn't be parents.

  8. CockKnocker

    Parnets need to monitor their kids?

    Really? Id never have guessed, instead of site blocking and government intervention, how about parents take responsibility for what their kids do online. The internet is not a babysitter ffs!

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What is this obsession with 'protecting' kids from porn? If kids are old enough to be titillated by porn then it's time to start sex education; if they're not, then reassure them that it's perfectly normal for adults.

    Young kids don't understand, they're missing the wiring.

  10. Alan Fisher

    Give the man an icecream!

    Well.....not exactly earth-shattering but at last someone "important" talking actual common sense instead of blaming Pugh, Pugh and Barney Mcgrue or whoever else happens to spring to mind.....blame those who are actually at fault; the parents!

    At last!

  11. Horridbloke
    Paris Hilton

    It's come to this...

    "Government should seek to empower parents: but they could not rely on them."

    Good grief.

    (Paris, because her parents are empowered).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    That's rich!

    From the regulator that refuses to regulate.

    You can't even submit a broadband complaint to ofcom anymore, they've turned their website into circular nonsense that discourages any contact at all from the end consumer.

    Ofcom is not fit for purpose as a communications regulator.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How on earth?

    How the hell did we get to a point where by and large, the same people complaining about the nanny state, are the same people demanding the government regulate the internet to protect their kids?

    Incidentally, why do children need to be "Protected" from porn? Wouldn't a more healthy attitude be to educate them? I mean, heres what I took away from "Personal and Social Education" when I left school:

    1) Sex is bad and you shouldn't have it.

    2) Drugs are bad and you shouldn't take them.

    3) Being white is racist, and being a male is sexist.

    4) Always listen to people in authority, even when their instructions seem stupid and arbitrary.

    and this was from a modern, well funded educational establishment.

    This system needs overhauling badly. Educators are so far out of touchwith reality that pretty much nothing they say bears any relevance to their students lives. Making sex and nudity into a forbidden fruit in the fashion they are just encourages people.

  14. b
    Thumb Up

    @ Can I be the first to say...


  15. Mike Crawshaw

    “Laws rarely prevent what they forbid.”

    Are you listening, Jacqui?

  16. Pete Silver badge

    but we're too busy!!!!!

    is the usual cry from people who don't want to do something.

    Whether it's filling in tax forms, cooking proper meals, reading a book or taking a role in the local community. In fact, these days "busy" translates into either "lazy", "not interested" or "don't care about" - especially when the responsibilities or duties in question can be dumped onto an anonymous, official body (subsequently referred to as "they" - as in "they ought to do something ..." or, better, "it's their fault").

    Ultimately, people need to realise that the internet is an unregulated, anonymous entity where anyone can do anything with impunity. Just as you would not let a child roam around the dodgier areas of any big city without supervision, parents should not permit their children to do the same on the internet - it's an adult medium with occasional, but unreliably monitored, areas that contain *some* child-friendly content. And so it will always be - that's life, deal with it.

    If parents are unwilling to spend the quality time with their children, due to being "too busy", then the answer has to be to remove their internet access. I'm sure the kids wouldn't like it, but that's the price they have to pay for having parents who aren't willing to live up to their responsibilities.

  17. Lionel Baden

    stop the kids

    Ermm yeah right !!

    i expect my kids to run circles around my blocks by the time there old enough !!!

    Well i hope so

    Then they can take over the world !!!!!

    Mines the one with Idiot guide to parenting in the pocket

  18. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    “Laws rarely prevent what they forbid.”

    Now that sounds like words of wisdom.

    If that is true, though, then why on Earth are legislators so hell-bent on creating new ones ?

    Oh, sorry. I had an access of logic there. I'll be all right, I promise.

  19. dreadful scathe

    difficult question? nah.

    "Was there a single reason they could advance as to why all new PCs should not come with optional porn filters on as default?"

    Yes. Its a misunderstanding of technology to suggest such a thing, but the principle is sound.

    A PC may or may not come with an OS. The OS is likely to support connecting to the internet via an ISP. If you are going to use a "porn filter" then surely it needs to be at the connection to the ISP level - it being your "gateway" to anything dodgy. There nothing wrong with the concept of some sort of expansive "white list" or "black list" used by optional DNS - if you don't want anything blocked, use the normal DNS. Only thing remaining is to use decent OS security to prevent users changing DNS addressing. Sorted. People who want to keep vulnerable people safe get to pick filtering - people who want unrestricted, get it. I would say the choice should always be given to the owner of the connection, the one who pays the ISP bills.

    Its not rocket science is it ?

    Of course the question of who maintains the white/black/mixed lists is a seperate issue and one that goes beyond individual ISPs in scope. But it would be nice if broadband purchasers, from schools to businesses to individuals, could choose an open standardised filtering system - or not :)

  20. Sooty

    a single reason

    "Was there a single reason they could advance as to why all new PCs should not come with optional porn filters on as default?"

    well one i suppose is that assuming she means internet porn filters, and assuming she means pc's running windows, and assuming she only means web pages*, does every browser in existance now have to filter out porn sites (somehow) by default. It wouldn't be fair to micriosft to force it on IE but not any other browsers. people not knowing how to switch it off would turn to a competitor.

    *those 3 assumptions are three reasons right there anyway.

  21. Mo


    ""Was there a single reason they could advance as to why all new PCs should not come with optional porn filters on as default?""


    a) You'd have to have a selection and certification process for said filters, which would be incredibly costly and inefficient

    b) Not all PCs are created equal

    c) The vast majority of PCs sold go nowhere near children and are wiped/imaged on receipt anyway (thus making the cost incurred a complete waste of money to British business)

    d) Not all PCs are sold with an operating system in the first place

    e) What happens when the OS installed on the PC doesn't have a filter available for it?

    f) How do you classify "sold" and "PC" anyway? Tricky, you see. What about a dedicated server?

    g) Are resellers and manufacturers legally liable if the filter doesn't work? Does that not mean parents would, by default, abdicate all responsibility because "the computer does it"?

    h) Porn isn't illegal [generally] in the first place. Why filter it?

    i) When I was a kid, I saw plenty of porn, without the aid of the Internet. I bet the generation before me did, too. (It never did me any harm…)

    j) Would there be clear instructions on how to turn said filters off? Do you think the same people who can't manage to operate a virus scanner would be able to i) switch it off when required, or ii) prevent children from doing the same?

  22. John Ozimek

    To be fair...

    The question asked by Mediamarch was why would there be any objection to having pron filters on as a default, but with the ability for adults to turn them off?

    On the surface, that is a reasonably reasonable position - and one that would probably find traction both with Daily Mail readers and government Ministers.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: stop the kids

    As long as you're not going to try and teach them punctuation, Lionel.

  24. Ian

    Here's my answer

    To the question:

    "However, she had more success in splitting the panel with a slightly trickier question. She asked: Was there a single reason they could advance as to why all new PCs should not come with optional porn filters on as default? Answers on a postcard, please"

    Yes I can advance a reason, because someone has to pay for such a filter directly or indirectly, and I'm not paying for something I don't even want.

  25. Graham Marsden

    In other news...

    > Parents should take greater responsibility for what their children get up to on the internet

    In other news...

    Pope found to be Catholic.

    Bear seen defecating in arboreal environment.

    In more interesting news, a quick glance at their site notes that Media March "heartily endorses the Christian aspirations which have been publicly displayed, ever since 1931, at BBC Broadcasting House in London. We recognise that these are in accordance with Philippians 4:8"

    It also links to Media Watch (the latest incarnation of the Mary Whitehouse Brigade) saying:

    "mediawatch-uk and mediamarch are independent organisations, but we pursue very similar aims and often work in cooperation on current issues.

    "We are grateful to mediawatch-uk for regularly passing on to us vital information and timely advice.:

    In other words, they're just another bunch of narrow-minded prudes who think that their personal tastes should govern what everyone else is allowed to see.

    And as for "Was there a single reason they could advance as to why all new PCs should not come with optional porn filters on as default?" well, no, not a single reason, several reasons, for instance:

    1) If I want to buy a "bare bones" PC I don't want any software installed on it, full stop.

    2) I don't have kids, but even if I did, if anything is going to be filtered on my PC, it is MY decision, not the State's nor a bunch of prod-noses.

    3) If I'm going to install filtering software, I want to be able to choose for myself which software I install, not have the choice (probably M$) imposed on me (and probably jacking up the price!)

    4) What else might a State-sponsored piece of filtering software *also* choose to block? Would it be subject to automatic updates so that if there's more legislation like the so-called "Extreme Pornography" laws, the State could force it to add more content/ sites to its blocked list?

    5) Would such software start inPhorming the authorities that I've tried to access certain sites...?

    I'm sure there are more, but I've got to get on with other stuff...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One reason

    if all PCs come with the same porn filter they will come with the cheapest porn filter and the first one to be cracked. Parents will not then bother trying to protect their children online because they've got this compromised piece of software that used to be a porn filter in place.

    It's called a single point of failure.

    P.S. If you want to protect your children then clean your kitchen. It's the biggest threat to them.

  27. Matthew

    Filters Already Exist

    Th gov issued a little noticed KITE mark called PAS 74,

    its basically the BECTA internet safety filter for consumers

    Clearly cos the gov issued it PAS 74 was ridiculously expensive to obtain so no one bothered, then the gov issued the UHA pronouncement ( providing disadvantaged children with devices/connectivity/o/s, e-security etc., ) said pronouncement comes with a promise of £365m of funding and guess what


    a requirement that the devices to be supplied come with pre installed filtering to PAS 74 level.......

    so the ans to the uninformed ladies questions is its on its way already thanks to the government making it a requirement to obtain UHA money (lots of it in a credit crunch!)

    also independently the Intel Classmate and a couple of other Netbooks can be delivered with a filter pre-installed.

    And despite what other posters say the filter needs to be device based (imaged or otherwise un-removable) and ISP independent and configurable by parents so that Dad's (and mums) can set up a rule blocking spotty johnny from porn whilst allowing themselves the luxry after the 9pm watershed naturally!!!!!

  28. Edward Miles
    Thumb Up

    Computers should come with these filters...

    ...Because children will learn more about computers working out how to bypass them! A more tech savvy population all round is a good thing(tm).

  29. Robert Grant Silver badge

    This is fun

    All the logic of the Daily Mail, but with the opposite opinion.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Lesson learned

    Obviously they learned the lesson of DRM.

  31. James

    Bleedin obvious...

    And remarkably refreshing, when the Australian government is trying to go the other way and insist that parents shouldn't be trusted to supervise their kids, and fortunately The Man will save all the nippers...

  32. Joachim Pileborg

    UK teens spend almost two hours a week surfing porn!

    According to an article at Ars, a report just came out that states that UK teens spend around 1 hour and 40 minutes every week surfing porn.

    Article here:

  33. BioTube

    "Cotton wool"?

    Cotton is a plant, wool the fur of a sheep. Jist 'cause this is a tech site don't mean you git to be ignant!

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