In order to (supposedly) protect women and children, U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron is going to announce a set of measures designed to curb Brits' appetite for porn. Sometime around the end of this year, those living in the British Isles will have to let their Internet providers know if they want access to porn, and by the end of next year, it'll be against the law to have "violent" porn.

Despite certain outcries, Cameron is stressing that steps to limit Britain's pornography consumption and effectively censor the Internet are being taken to protect the public. "The moves will be announced by the prime minister in a speech to the NSPCC in which he will unveil a series of measures to reduce access to pornography with a particular focus on images of child sexual abuse," The Guardian reports.

The "moves" being enacted will include the following: 

  • Every household in the U.K. will have its access to porn blocked by default. People will have to ask their ISP provider to opt out of this block. 
  • "Extreme" pornography which involves violent scenes or simulated rape is going to be outlawed. 
  • An organization called Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre Internet will come up with a set of search terms in relation child abuse/child porn that will then be blocked 

"I’m not making this speech because I want to moralise or scaremonger, but because I feel profoundly as a politician, and as a father, that the time for action has come. This is, quite simply, about how we protect our children and their innocence," reads Cameron's expected speech today, which primarily will focus on children.  

Ultimately, the question here will be if the porn crackdown will ultimately result in less child abuse and better treatment of women. If you look at countries that ban porn (and ones that don't), you'll notice that at best, there's no clear relationship between banning porn and that country's treatment of women and children. At worst, a ban on porn is perhaps harmful. For example, take a look at India, where the distribution of porn is illegal. That country has recently become notorious for an epidemic of brutal rapes, some of them against children. Meanwhile, in the United States the incidence of rape declined 85 percent over a period of 25 years while access to pornography has increased, The New York Times reported. The U.K. is probably closer to the U.S. in that stark in comparison, and is regularly rated as one the top countries in the world for women. That's not to say that porn is good for gender relations, only that any relationship between banning porn and positive outcomes is unclear.

Critics of the recommendations say that Cameron is posturing and demonstrating an obtuse understanding of porn, the Internet, free speech and how these factors relate to abuse. Banning porn is really difficult, which is good news for opponents of these censorship measures. "Filters and blocks don’t work when you know how to operate a proxy or VPN – and thanks to the crackdown on pirated music and video, such techniques are widely used," David Hazard of PaidContent writes. Though it isn't porn, the Iranian government had "blocked" World of Warcraft, but many of the country's gamers used proxies to continue to play the video game. Those players were only actually thwarted much later when Blizzard, the company that makes WoW, announced an official block on the country because of government sanctions. 

Like Hazard, The Telegraph's Mic Wright also has a good explainer on why these measures just won't work. "Paedophiles operate through password-protected sites and peer-to-peer networks. Only the most feckless use mainstream search engines to facilitate their crimes," writes Wright. "However, there’s a significant issue that the Government’s grandstanding ignores: the internet is far deeper than Google’s search engine spiders can travel," Wright adds. We will see, soon enough, how the porn ban fares.

Photo by: fotoscool via Shutterstock.