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31-07-2013, 18:01
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No doubt you will have come across one or more brewery websites that require you to enter your date of birth before accessing the site. It’s only a minor irritation, and there’s no check that you’re telling the truth anyway. It’s just a cover-your-backside measure from breweries, especially those seeking to address the US market. I wrote about this in the past here (http://pubcurmudgeon.blogspot.co.uk/2009/12/x-certificate-drinking.html).
However, if the government’s declared aim of introducing a default-on anti-porn filter on the Internet becomes reality, these controls are likely to become a whole lot stronger. If it was actually possible to restrict access to legal pornography to over-18s, then it’s hard to argue against it. But even that is likely to result in a huge number of false positives, and fails to recognise how easy it is to circumvent ISP controls anyway.
And, as reported here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/uk-internet-filter-block-more-than-porn_n_3670771.html), it is highly likely that the controls will be extended to a wide range of other material that is judged to be unsuitable for children to access. Suicide? Anorexia? Promotion of terrorism? Illegal drugs? Tobacco? Alcohol? Controversial or extreme political views? See that slippery slope yet?
This isn’t just an anti-porn measure, or anything like it. In reality the objective is to dramatically limit the range of material that can be accessed without a specific opt-in proof of age. If you just want to see what guest ales are on at the Volestranglers’ Arms, you will have to negotiate exactly the same controls as if you want to view porn. It’s another step in the denormalisation of alcohol. And who is to say that the government won’t start taking an interest in who has opted out of which controls?
If this concerns you, please sign this e-petition (https://submissions.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/51746) on the government website.

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