UK Considers Automatic Block for Harmful Websites

August 19, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

1. automatic (adj.) 
[aw-tuh-mat-ik] – operating in a way that does not need much human control or involvement
Example: The digital camera‘s automatic setting will instantly add brightness to a dark picture.

2. filter (n.) [fil-ter] – a method or technology that prevents something unwanted or unneeded from passing through
Example:  The office’s Internet filter prevents employees from accessing video sites like YouTube at work.

3. default (adj.) [dih-fawlt] – referring to an option that is automatically selected if no other option is chosen
Example: The mobile phone’s default sound level is 100%, but he decided to make it 50%.

4. persuade (v.) [per-sweyd] – to cause someone to want to do an action
Example: The politician will persuade people to vote for him through his speech.

5. foolproof (adj.) [fool-proof] –  not easily failing or having error
Example:  The foolproof security system makes sure that people in the building are always safe.

Read the text below.

The UK government is thinking about placing an automatic restriction on harmful websites.

An automatic filter on such websites could help prevent children from seeing websites that are not suitable for them. The proposed filter would prevent access not only to pornographic websites, but also to websites that promote suicide, anorexia and self-harm.

The government suggests that Internet service providers (ISPs) make the filter a default setting for Internet user accounts. Users, however, would still be given an option called “active choice,” wherein the ISP will ask users if they really want to access harmful websites.

The strategy runs on the idea that persuading people not to access the websites is more effective than forcing them not to do so.

 Four of UK’s main Internet service providers—BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky— have already agreed to offer customers these options.

But there is no assurance that a filter would be 100% foolproof in protecting children. According to Tim Loughton, UK’s children’s minister, parents are not in control of what their children access online, mainly because children nowadays are more technologically advanced than their parents.

In addition, many people outside the UK continuously create proxy websites, which can find a way around Internet filters and allow anyone to see adult and harmful content.

Loughton added that automatic systems may prevent access to harmful websites and provide a safer solution, but parents should still be responsible in guiding their children on Internet use.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Do you think it is important to put an automatic filter on harmful websites? Why or why not?
·         What do you think is the best solution to prevent children from accessing harmful websites?

Discussion B

·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of allowing children to use advanced technology nowadays?
·         What do you think parents can do to control their children’s computer and Internet use?

August 19, 2012