A petition on the Change.org website is urging Canada’s government to require Internet service providers (ISPs) to create a filter that would block porn by default from all households.
More than 4,500 people have signed the petition since it went online less than a week ago.
It appears to be inspired by Britain’s newly announced opt-in system for porn, which requires internet subscribers to contact their service provider and request that porn be made available to that household. Britain's ISPs are planning to have the filter in place by the end of the year.
“The horribly addictive effects of pornography on children and our society [are] becoming increasingly evident and we demand that the Canadian government take immediate action against it,” wrote Nova Scotia resident Kristine Podeszwa, the petition’s author.
Commenter Beth Holthe wrote on the petition site that inadvertently coming across porn on the web "is the same as walking down the street and being flashed by a pervert seeking to show themselves. In my opinion if it is illegal for it to happen in person, it should not be legal for it to happen inadvertently on the internet."
Podeszwa has created a Facebook page called the Canadian Anti-Pornography Petition, aiming to get the federal government’s attention on the issue.
Britain’s porn filter has proven controversial, with some digital rights and civil rights advocates arguing it amounts to internet censorship, and could open the door for broader efforts at censoring internet content. Other critics say a porn block would be ineffective, as web surfers would find ways around them.
Some of their fears appeared to have been confirmed when online-rights groups found that Britain’s porn filter also blocks various other types of content, including "violent material," "extremist and terrorist related content," "anorexia and eating disorder websites," and "suicide related websites."
The porn filter also reportedly blocks virtual private networks (VPNs), which are used by some surfers to get around internet filters, or to anonymize their browsing.
According to Tom Copeland, chairman of the Canadian Association of Internet Providers, the idea has been floated in Canada as well. Copeland says it has been discussed for years, but so far ISPs have resisted it.
However, Internet providers do work with the Canadian Centre for Child Protection, which has been working to block child pornography sites since 2007.
The anti-pornography movement has gained steam in recent years, particularly in Europe, where some countries are mulling more extreme measures than the U.K.’s porn filter.
Iceland’s legislators are considering an outright ban on online pornography, apparently the only one of its kind so far among Western governments.
The idea is proving so popular among Icelanders it’s expected to become law by the end of the year, CBC reports.
The issue of porn addiction and the phenomenon of teenage sexting has brought many concerns about pornography to the forefront of public debate.
Researchers have suggested that excessive porn viewing is killing men’s libidos and making it harder for them to be satisfied by real-life sexual relations.
A recent study found that porn viewers’ brains have similar activity patterns to those seen in drug and alcohol addicts.
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