Should There be an Automatic Filter for Pornography Sites? (2012), Sean Gabb

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Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster on the 19th December 2012.

The question was whether there should be an automatic filter on pornographic web sites, to protect children from the horrors of nudity and sex. Such content would still be available to adults who explicitly asked for the filter to be removed in their case, and who were not scared of being put on a list of known sex perverts. NB, the British Government had recently announced that it would not make any law to compel an automatic filter.

Sean argues these points:

  • That it should be the right and duty of parents alone to determine what children access on the Internet or generally read and see.
  • That conservative authoritarians deceive themselves when they think the authorities are fundamentally on their side. The moment you ask for a control to be imposed, you put your trust in people you have never seen, who are not accountable to you, who probably do not share your own values, and who will, sooner or later, use the control you have demanded in ways that you find surprising or shocking.
  • That the precedent of filtering access to pornography would soon be applied to filtering "hate speech" - and that this would be used to censor disagreement by Christians with gay marriage, or plain political dissent.

In general, Sean says that there should be no controls on the production or distribution of any sexual imagery that is created by and for consenting adults.