Parental Controls

Andy Halsall : The internet 'blame game' - watching the watchers

Problems with the internet including child protection are not being dealt with – government, ISPs, search engines and parents are passing the buck between each other rather than taking action

In the United Kingdom, both the coalition government and the opposition have called for the increased use of web filtering to deal with a whole range of problems that they see as emanating from the internet. A summit was held at 10 Downing Street to discuss issues of child protection and the web. The meeting, chaired by Culture Secretary Maria Miller, was attended by all of Britain's major internet service providers as well as the worlds larger tech companies including Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.

It is probably unsurprising that after the 90-minute summit, not very much changed in the ISP's or search engine's approaches to dealing with images of child exploitation online. That is not to say that the government did not immediately hail it as a great success. Yet the only concrete result appears to have been to secure additional funding for the Internet Watch Foundation, a commendable achievement. However, given that the government has already cut funding for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, and the local authorities that deal with child protection issues and victims, that is scant consolation.

Of course what we should do to ensure that we are effective in detecting, investigating and dealing with abuse is to ensure that organisations like CEOP, the police and local authorities are properly funded. Yet the public discussion, even some of the stated reasons for the summit have been muddled. Far from dealing with issues of exploitation, Miller wrote in The Daily Mail on Saturday that she wanted the likes of Google to "protect my children from the depravity of internet porn".