My reaction to Andy Burnham’s announcement that British websites should carry a cinema style ratings was x-rated. The notion that the UK and the US could get together and make it work is hilariously stupid.
It can’t work.
Even if the UK, EU, US and others cook up a scheme there will be still be an unregulated paradise somewhere that won’t sign up. (Quite right too.) My own site, for instance, would be branded (12) for occasional adult language and moderate violence and yet all the filth will be still be freely available. Mission not accomplished.
It won’t work
Even if they come up with a cleverer scheme, it won’t work. A horny 13 year old boy (like a billionaire looking for a tax loophole or a crack addict looking or money for their next hit) will find a way to access the porn. No government can legislate for that. And if Andy Burnham thinks otherwise he isn’t the wanker lots of people are saying he is.
It shouldn’t have to work.
Aren’t people responsible for their own behaviour? Aren’t parents in some way in charge of their own children? There are plenty of ways of keeping children away from adult content. An act of parliament really isn’t one of them.
I’m sure that the announcement is a bit of weekend policy aimed at grabbing a few headlines and reassure the readers of the Daily Mail (especially those who fear that every night the Channel Tunnel resembles the start of the London Marathon with hordes of ‘forriners’ dashing headlong towards these islands with dreams of a superstar life on impossibly generous benefits that aren’t available to honest, native, heterosexual, white folk. You think I jest?)
I’m not overly troubled by the suggestion until it becomes more solid and a proper policy proposal. But we should have our barricades ready. The real issue here is that government doesn’t understand the internet and that’s a problem. For those of us who make our living from it, it’s potentially even more troubling than the forecast recession. We need to be ready to make our case.