From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.


I'm Robert Siegel. And it's time now for All Tech Considered


SIEGEL: In Great Britain today, not all the news is about royal labor. Prime Minister David Cameron announced a crackdown on Internet pornography, saying that pornography online was corroding the innocence of too many British children and rejecting the notion that the Net is simply too big and unruly to regulate, Cameron set out series of proposals to make the Net safer.

NPR's technology correspondent Steve Henn joins us now. And, Steve, David Cameron isn't the first politician to set out on a crusade to protect children from online pornography. What's driving his interest in the issue?

STEVE HENN, BYLINE: Well, Cameron says he's motivated by his own concerns as a father. But it's also worth noting that the Daily Mail and several other British media outlets have been on a crusade against what they call online filth for months.

Here's Cameron addressing the issue on Sky News last June.

PRIME MINISTER DAVID CAMERON: As a parent I worry massively about what our children can get to see when they grab hold of our iPad or log on to the Internet. And there, we need to make more progress on this issue of explaining to everybody that we want to have better filters that parents can switch on to stop access to certain sites and material.

SIEGEL: So what steps did Cameron actually take in that direction today?

HENN: Well, he's proposing a further crackdown on illegal types of Internet pornography. But Cameron is also suggesting taking steps to make a little bit more difficult for people to access legal material online. He's asked all Internet service providers in the U.K. to install Internet filters on new accounts that would be designed to block all pornography. And those filters would, by default, be on. In effect, anyone who wanted to look at legal pornography online in Britain would have to opt-in.

SIEGEL: So, we're not just talking about child pornography here. We're talking about all kinds of adult pornography - images of adults.

HENN: Exactly.

SIEGEL: And what has reaction been to all this from online companies?

HENN: Well, they've pushed back against this idea. This industry has argued that Internet filters aren't perfect; they'll screen out lots of material that shouldn't be considered porn. And they argue that technically sophisticated kids will find their way around these firewalls. There are also civil libertarians who argue that, really, this is about more than kids. They see a government trying to regulate morality among adults by making it a bit harder and perhaps a bit more embarrassing for adults to see adult content online.

SIEGEL: OK. Thank you, Steve.

HENN: My pleasure.

SIEGEL: That's NPR's technology correspondent Steve Henn.

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