IoS letters, emails & online postings (28 July 2013)

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The Independent Online

The Government's plan to offer computer users Internet Service Provider (ISP) filters against pornography is a wired solution in a wireless world. Take the laptop to a friend's house, or on holiday, and the filters may no longer apply. Also, communal filters can only block well-known sites; they cannot offer the same level of protection as content restriction settings and locally installed web filters. Local filters give parents control over the sites their children can visit, and allow parents to unblock "false positives" as and when they are encountered. This ability to easily correct mistakes means the filters can be far more aggressive and paranoid by default.

No filter is perfect, but locally installed filters combined with content restrictions come the closest by a country mile. The ISPs can offer education, advice and software, but they can't – with the best will in the world – offer protection comparable to a responsible parent. And it is dangerous to think they can. Too many parents give their kids the latest phones, tablets and consoles, without bothering to glance at the instruction booklet. As computer scientists are prone to quip, "they need to RTFM!" (Read The ******* Manual) – their kids won't be protected until they do.

Simon Morris


Joan Smith ("Convictions for FGM. France 100. UK: Nil", 21 July) highlights the tension at the heart of eliminating female genital mutilation, between needing to be "politically correct" and not to be seen as encouraging "racist curtain-twitching" to catch the cutters. The solution must surely be helping the communities where FGM occurs to see that this practice is unnecessary, unpleasant and unhelpful. Once the communities change, the cutters will be outed and convictions will rise. How we help the communities to see the need for change is a sensitive issue.

Kartar Uppal

West Bromwich, West Midlands

Alan Hubbard says "Olympic euphoria certainly has not bequeathed goodwill to a host of local councils, who often, under the guise of Government cuts, make shameful decisions harmful to participation sports" ("Minister 'delighted' – but facilities are still closing", 21 July).

But local authorities in the provinces didn't benefit from the £9.3bn squandered on London 2012, indeed have been forced to make spending cuts because they are getting less from central government. And there are greater priorities than sport, especially that of the elite variety which causes their participants to become rich and famous.

Tim Mickleburgh,

Grimsby, Lincolnshire

The reasons for opposition from Sheffield and its people to the Leeds Arena has not been properly presented ("Battle lines drawn in Yorkshire over vast venues", 21 July).

When the World Student Games took place in 1991, Sheffield was offered no assistance in paying for the facilities. All costs were met and are still being met by the citizens of Sheffield.

Now that the richest city in the county has been moaning about not having an arena, public money has been provided to assist Leeds. The Sheffield peoples' line is clear: "We paid for ours, you should pay for yours."

David Battye

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

In his piece on parents cheating to gain school places for their children (21 July), Brian Brady states that "the list also included parents wrongly claiming their children had been baptised in order to get them into church schools". Here it is the system that is wrong: baptism should not be a requirement for entry into a state school, and the state should not be in the position of depriving children of school places on those grounds.

John Dakin

Dunstable, Bedfordshire

In Louise Saunders' reply to a question about flagging belief in The New Review (Help desk, 21 July) she implied that a non-Muslim woman needs to convert to Islam if she marries a Muslim. In fact, if the woman's religion is of "The Book"– either a Christian or a Jew – there is no such requirement. There are enough misconceptions about Islam. Please don't add another!

Margaret McPherson

Exeter, Devon

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