Peter Baklinski

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Tory MP pushes for mandatory ISP-level filter to protect children from porn

Peter Baklinski
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WINNIPEG, November 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Tory MP Joy Smith says that if Internet Service Providers (ISP) will not voluntarily filter porn content, she will press the government to implement a mandatory firewall on the ISP level that could only be circumvented by the authorized account holder. 

“People in their own homes could disable that particular filter, and watch all the porn they wanted,” Smith, MP for Winnipeg’s Kildonan–St Paul riding, told LifeSiteNews.com. “I think that it’s not up to somebody to say what someone should watch in their homes: What I’m after is the inadvertent accidental online pornography that pops up.” 

For Smith, filtering porn is about protecting children.

“As a government, the first thing we are compelled to do is to protect our citizens,” she said.

“We delude ourselves if we believe that unfiltered access to adult content poses no threat to our children.”

Smith cited studies that she said show that the majority of teens unintentionally encounter pornography online and that early exposure is a predictor for future sexual harassment and negative attitudes towards women.

“What it does is give them an attitude that [sexual violence against women] is normal,” she said. 

Last week Smith, along with anti-porn researcher Dr. Gail Dines, held a press conference addressing parliamentarians, stakeholders and parents about what they called the “harmful impact of pornography on society and youth.” 

“Over 40 years of empirical research has revealed concrete evidence on the harms of pornography and the way it shapes behavior and attitudes of children and youth,” said Smith in a press release. “For this reason, Canada needs to take the lead to protect children and youth from this predator industry. Now is the time to take action.” 

“In this massive fight against child exploitation and human trafficking, pornography is the mass groomer and driver of the demand.”

Smith said she endorses the model used in the U.K. by Prime Minister David Cameron, where mandatory government-controlled filters block users at the ISP level from blacklisted sites, unless users “opt in” to view such sites. 

Smith writes off concerns that government mandatory filters would lead to the government regulation of information on the Internet. 

“Internet filtering would reduce the risk of unwanted [porn] exposure, that’s all it is,” she said. 

However, some critics from both ends of the political spectrum are concerned that such a proposal – while unquestionably laudable at face value – would set a precedent that could easily lead to government control of online information, and not just porn. 

Jim Killock of the U.K. Open Rights Group called Cameron’s “pornwall” a government bid to have people “sleepwalk into censorship.” Several U.K. ISPs, when asked by Killock’s group what would be filtered under the default settings, admitted that it was more than pornography. The blacklist included “extremist” and “terrorist-related content”, “web forums”, and “esoteric material”.

But that leaves the determination of what constitutes “extremist” material up to government censors, a situation that could lead to pro-life-and-family sites being be filtered by the government for being deemed ‘too radical’. 

It is no secret that on-line censorship in China has helped the communist government maintain its iron grip on power. But Smith called China’s censorship of the internet, where the government employs an estimated 50,000 people to block on-line content critical of its totalitarian regime, “not a credible comparison” with her own initiative.

For now, Smith is urging ISPs to come up with their own solution to unrestricted online access to pornography. 

“So the first thing is a conversation to see what they can do and definitely if it can’t be done voluntarily I would personally like to see — I’m not speaking for the government, but for myself — I would push to have that filter put in as soon as possible,” she said. 

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