This article wouldn’t get past a public filter, Mr Cameron

In 20 years of internet use, I’ve never once stumbled on images or videos of child abuse

Share
Related Topics

There’s something about the fearsome technological and social complexity of the internet that makes it easy to pick holes in regulatory measures proposed by politicians, even if there’s unanimous agreement about their aims. David Cameron wants child abuse images to be eradicated and for children to be shielded from all forms of pornography. Barely anyone would disagree with this. But the conflation of these two very separate issues in Monday’s announcement was unhelpful, and in some ways seemed to betray and perpetuate a fundamental misunderstanding of the way the internet works.

A month ago, Google announced – to much less fanfare than greeted Mr Cameron’s statement – that it was pumping cash into further developing technology that automatically flags potential images of abuse. This is a fight that’s ongoing, and has been for many years; police around the world already use image technology to track down producers and consumers of online child abuse images.

But the vast majority of this disturbing activity takes place behind heavily secured networks that you’d never accidentally stumble across when using a search engine. In 20 years of indescribably heavy internet use, I’ve never once been confronted with images or videos of child abuse – although admittedly, unlike some writers working for other newspapers, I’ve never actively set out to seek them in order to write a story about their supposed prevalence.

You can create a blacklist of certain Google search terms as long as your arm, or longer, but the real battle against child abuse images is an incredibly complex technological one. On Monday Paul Jones, father of murdered schoolgirl April Jones, asked: “Why can’t they take this stuff off the internet?” It’s a question to which we’d all love to give him an answer, but it’s hard to do so because of the difficulty of defining “they”, and the problems associated with locating the “stuff”.

And then there’s legal pornography. Many would agree with the assertion that all pornography is bad, but the vast majority of it isn’t illegal, and to say that there’s a lot of it is a colossal understatement. Thousands of hours of new material, both home and studio-made, are uploaded to the internet every day, and while filters are becoming more savvy, they’ll always be imperfect.

It’s likely that this article would be blocked by a filtered public Wi-Fi point because of the language I’ve used; that’s no big deal, but just as easily as non-pornographic comment pieces can be blocked, pornographic images can get through.

Again, you can introduce as many opt-in schemes for pornography as you want, but an equally important measure is to educate parents to educate their children about the realities and dangers of content online.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before