It was all talk and no action - yet
Richard Barry reports on the IDA debate on Internet pornography
Monday 16 September 1996
The meeting served to mend rifts between the Internet community and the Met and allowed the police to re-emphasise the need for collective discussion on the topic. The truth is that the police are as confused as everyone else.
Superintendent Michael Hoskins, who heads up the Clubs and Vice Unit at Charing Cross police station, has the power to close ISPs that have child pornography on their servers, in accordance with the Obscene Publications Act 1959. But the Act is pitifully lacking when it comes to unravelling the intricacies of the Internet, and serves as an ally to the criminals, shielding them with its outdated definitions. In its present form, the 40-year-old Act is seen by many as one of the principle obstacles to arriving at a satisfactory solution.
Nigel Williams, the director of Childnet, wants the law to be modernised "and quickly. What you have to realise is that real children are being affected out there - real lives." Supt Hoskins agreed: "I want the Obscene Publications Act changed and we are working with the Government to achieve that."
While the Government decides what to do with the Act, entrepreneurs are stepping in to offer their own solutions. Peter Dawe, who made his fortune from the ISP Unipalm Pipex (now UUnet Pipex), told the meeting he was setting up the Safety Net Foundation, which would attempt to cut out "99.9 per cent" of child pornography. But Mr Dawe's plans were greeted with scepticism by some attending the debate.
"This isn't a problem you can just throw money at," argued Mr Williams. "It needs informed debate and proper thought."
Mr Dawe admitted that he had come up with the idea just six days earlier, but parried: "I've made a lot of money out of the Internet, it's time to put some back."
Entrepreneurs such as Peter Dawe probably won't be the last to try to halt child pornography on the Internet. Public outcry will bolster such efforts.
But at the end of the debate, one was left feeling that the laws designed to protect children are so inadequate that they will make finding a real solution to the problem of child pornography on the Internet more difficult.
Life & Style blogs
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Senior British politicians tell David Cameron: When dead children are being washed up on beaches, it's time to act
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
- 1 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 2 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 3 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 4 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This recognized leader in providing software s...
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...