EU Ruling Bans New Internet Porn Filters

The European Union voted through a new law in Brussels on Tuesday, making some internet porn filters illegal and obliging internet services providers (ISPs) to treat all online content “without discrimination, restriction or interference.”

Certain ISPs such as BT, Sky and Virgin had begun running “opt-in” filters requiring users to give permission for access to porn sites. The new rules outlaw such filters and are set to take effect in late 2016.

Critics have already begun protesting the EU move, with one Christian lobby calling the decision “shocking.”

CARE, a UK-based Christian public policy charity, has campaigned for default filters that block pornographic content, as well as age verification tools to protect children from harmful content.

“It is shocking that the EU would show such obvious disregard for the clear benefits of online filters,” said CARE’s Chairwoman Nola Leach.

“This ruling is extremely troubling because it could jeopardize the safety of thousands of children and households across the UK and mean many more children are exposed to online porn,” she said.

In its 2015 election manifesto, the British Conservative party had promised to protect children by ensuring age filters for pornographic sites.

“We will stop children’s exposure to harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age verification for access to all sites containing pornographic material and age-rating for all music videos,” the manifesto read.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to enact new legislation to counteract the EU rules. Cameron said he “spluttered over my cornflakes” after reading about the Brussels decision to outlaw online porn filters.

On Wednesday, Cameron said he had secured an “opt-out” from the EU law that would permit the filters to remain in place in the UK, though such an exception could still face a challenge from the European Court of Justice.

Others have taken advantage of the conflict to push harder for a UK exit from the European Union. Robert Oxley, from Vote Leave, said: “The Government has now admitted that its voluntary filters have been outlawed by the EU.”

“It is wrong to claim that there has been an opt-out, otherwise it would not be legislating on them after the EU vote,” he said, adding that if we vote leave, “we will take back control to set our own laws on important issues like this.”

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

 


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