While children should use the internet safely, automatic ISP blocking is dangerous and ill-advised
Misinformation and a lack of technical understanding have been at the centre of the porn blocking story. The idea, in summary, is for UK ISPs to block porn and for people to have to opt out of web filtering. Mainstream media reporting of the issue has hardly been helpful, especially from the Daily Mail. So why not botch the numbers?
In a story subsequently picked up by several other news outlets, the Daily Mail claimed that a majority of people supported porn blocking. The article in question, based on a YouGov survey conducted on behalf of The Sunday Times, states that two thirds (66 per cent, to be precise) of the UK public backed the 'Daily Mail campaign' and wanted online porn to be blocked.
Which isn't actually true. As is often the case, it is a matter of wording. 66 per cent of people 'supported' the following statement:
Some people have suggested that Internet Service Providers should have to offer a service that filters internet sites and automatically block pornographic sites from people's home internet service. Would you support or oppose this idea?
What the Daily Mail should have said - were it not for the lousy numbers - is that 36 per cent of people support its campaign/calls from MPs to introduce ISP porn blocking. Here's why...
When presented with the statement below 36 per cent of people responded with 'opt-out'. That's to say that they thought that people should have to ask ISPs to give them access to porn. Have a look at the wording:
Some people think that customers should have to choose to have their internet service filtered (an opt-in service), other people think that internet services should all be filtered unless customers ask for their service to be unfiltered (an opt-out service).
And the responses (the second one is important):
Opt-in (someones [sic] internet service should only be filtered if they ask for it) - 57 per cent
Opt-out (people's internet service should be filtered unless they ask for it not to be) -
36 per cent
Don't know - 8 per cent
On those numbers, support for these dubious proposals seems a bit flaky. Try putting that in a headline.
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