Letter: Porn on the Internet

POLITICIANS and commentators alike have congratulated Internet Watch Foundation on their war against digital porn, in particular child porn ("Porn images seized", 4 March).

In their report on Internet Content Rating the IWF claim not only to be enemies of the pornographer but also to be defenders of free speech. By enabling users the choice to screen out distasteful or offensive material, so the argument goes, there will be less need for governments to regulate the Internet. Personally, I do not believe for one moment that such a rating system can exist without service providers, owners of search engines, colleges and workplaces using such a system to screen material before users get the opportunity to decide for themselves.

The IWF also claims that the proposed system is primarily aimed at parents. As parents we have a duty to protect children from the nastier aspects of life but we also have a duty not to stick our heads in the sand. How can we make informed judgement about material we never get to see and may never even know exists?

In the virtual world offered by the IWF, users will even be protected from differences of opinion. The proposed scheme contains a category covering "intolerant" views of groups defined by gender, race, sexual orientation, nationality and so on.

Had we had access to such a system in recent weeks we would presumably have been blissfully unaware of the US and UK's threats of military action against Iraq or Chris Patten's views of the Chinese government expressed in his new book.

JASON BURTON

Kingston-upon-Thames

Surrey

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