Browser blocking pornographic websites. What about the principle of neutrality?


During the meeting on RMF FM radio Minister Marek Zagórski presented his idea of ​​the fight against pornography. Marek Zagórski argues that you can "get along" with browser providers to block porn sites. The block could be extended to other categories of pages.

Blocking pornographic websites by browsers is based on Minister Marek Zagórski is one of the possible solutions that should be introduced to protect minors against inappropriate content.

In yesterday (13 January) RMF FM afternoon broadcast led by Marcin Zaborski, Minister Marek Zagórski was asked, among others about how his ministry plans to restrict access of minors to pornographic websites. Minister Zagórski admitted that the office is already working on the project (as he emphasized social) and one of the ideas is "getting along with browsers." At the same time, he added that any blockade is to be a universal solution, i.e. not only pornographic websites, but also e.g. websites of alcohol and gambling stores. All those that by law should verify the age of the user.

I commissioned the development of such a mechanism, we know more or less in which direction we have to go. We are working on such a solution that it will be effective and at the same time not stigmatizing. I think that in two or three months we should have them.

Asked about the manner in which the blockade of pornographic websites would be implemented, the minister replied:

We are working on this project at the Ministry of Digitization. We are looking for the right solutions to make the blocking process of pornographic websites effective. (…) This can be done without violating privacy, it only requires an approach at several levels. For example at the browser level. You can agree with providers to block access to some content. A special key would unlock them.

Minister Zagórski assures that "it can be done" without violating the privacy of users and cites the example of Great Britain, where according to the minister there is a solution that blocks access to content. However, this is not entirely true. The British were trying to block Internet content (since 2013), but eventually gave it up.

However, Great Britain gives up

On October 16, 2019, the UK government announced that it would not enter age verification. The introduction of restrictions was postponed three times to finally abandon them. Secretary of State Nick Morgan officially informed about it, who issued a statement in October that the government would not continue its plan to implement this part of the act (the so-called pornography block) on the digital economy (Digital Economy Act), which applies to restricting access to sites with content for adults.

It is true that another document was created, i.e. Online Harms White Paper, used to implement the idea of ​​a secure internet, but in principle it is a collection of wishful thinking, without any relevant legislation and regulations:

The White Paper sets out the ambitious UK vision for Internet security, including a new legal framework to combat negative effects (surfing the internet – editor's note ed.); developing a security framework at the design stage and supporting innovation in security technologies; and a new online education strategy.

Both UK citizens Britain and the country's authorities recognize the dangers of uncontrolled access to all kinds of content, especially by minors. This time, it was decided that the threat to everyone's privacy was greater than the effects of visiting inappropriate sites. Blocking pornographic sites may make it difficult for someone to access, but not prevent it. Meanwhile, all kinds of keys, special codes or other types of restrictions already imposed by operators or browser creators pose a very likely threat to Internet users' privacy.

Does the Ministry change its mind?

In December 2018, the Ministry of Digitization received a petition regarding access to pornographic websites with proposed filters imposed e.g. by operators. Here is its fragment:

porn petition
Extract from a petition sent in December 2018 to the Ministry of Digitization. The full content can be found at BIP website.

At that time, the Ministry replied in a spirit quite different from what we could hear on the radio:

Referring to the postulate that Internet providers introduce filters in Poland that would significantly hinder contact with pornographic content, I would like to explain that the top-down use of blockades on the Internet is contrary to the principle of net neutrality contained in the Telecommunications Single Market Regulation. (…) Distribution of illegal content (hate speech, hard pornography, child pornography) is prohibited at the level of laws that allow them to be removed from the Internet. The solution you adopted in the UK pointed to pornographic content available only for a fee. However, it did not apply to pornographic content available free of charge (persisting e.g. from advertising). Therefore, this is not a solution to the problem of access to pornography, but only regulation of the market from the content provider. Technical issues are another problem. Currently used solutions do not allow effective blocking of pages. To sum up, I would like to reassure you that the Minister of Digitization notices the dangers arising from contact, especially of minors, with pornographic content and sees the need to take action to limit access to such content. However, the solution proposed by you in the petition for Internet providers to introduce mandatory filters and blockades cannot be included.
The full text of the answer can be found on the website Public Information Bulletin of the Ministry of Digital Affairs

Therefore, from January 2019 to January 2020, we are dealing with a significant change in position regarding access to pornographic websites and the announcement of blockades of pages, not specified in terms of nature and content. For now, we are talking about websites with alcohol and gambling stores. But maybe this is just the beginning? |