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Blocking porn content has been on the agenda of public institutes dealing with Internet policy and regulations subjects. Child Online Protection (COP) is one specific terminology addressing this particular content type since children around the globe are the most vulnerable segment of a society in terms of threats / harm posed by porn content. Although, COP is not limited to safeguarding kids from porn content only, it includes a broader issues framework.
Blocking content is not an easy task when we discuss its stoppage at a national level. It’s not like installing block list software in a LAN environment. It does ask for a detail consultation with stakeholders to declare a more sustainable and clear national strategy to block a particular content.
In general, the whole Internet content is being represented through URLs or web addresses. Blocking of content has been performed by blocking URLs at national Internet gateways in economies like Saudi Arabia, UAE and Pakistan. However, when it comes to porn content there are a good set of software solutions available, in fact porn is the only content type (if I am right here) where specific filtering techniques have been applied in form of a software application solution (targeting the application layer in context with OSI layers). You may not find such filters for anti-religion, anti-national, anti-social or other content under blocking practices.
Recently, a broadband service provider in Pakistan introduced a specific parental control package to its subscribers with less than 2 USD per month extra charges. The operator is offering Net Nanny (a popular parental control solution) service to subscribers opting for parental control service on their broadband connection. Another recent example of such practice is been observed at UK. According to details, a drive backed by the UK Prime Minster David Cameron will see ISP customers’ in greater controls to manage how they access sexually explicit websites on their phones, tablets and computers at home. 4 major ISPs of the country have developed a code of practice to encourage an active choice based parental control service. In UK, the service is expected to be free of any charge.
These two examples show an encouraging and more appropriate development with regards to COP as well. It is a more sustainable way to enable an environment to the subscribers to manage the type of content on his own choice rather than blocking URLs / websites at a national level. Blocking a particular content completely over Internet is not at all easy; it requires a lot of resources, investment by public and private sector, continuous updating and even resistance from the society (adult entertainment advocacy).
Public policy and regulatory institutes in developing economies may also look forward to adopt such best practice models in order to endorse national COP Frameworks. Even from an operator point of view such parental control offers may bring a business case as well. They may introduce parental control as a value added service charging a minimum amount to their subscribers. Sounds like a Win-Win situation. !