The Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection has begun to take comments from a rather predictably selective group.
The committee has heard comments from the Lucy Faithful Foundation, the Mother's Union, YoungMinds, Marie Collins Foundation, Sonia Livingstone, Professor of Social Psychology at LSE, Jacqui Smith, the Sun's agony aunt Deidre Sanders and
Jerry Barnett, managing director of the UK's largest adult VOD site.
Jacqui Smith, the disgraced former Home Secretary, had a few ideas that caught the interest. She told the Inquiry that online pornography should be made harder to access in Britain, but that the quid pro quo for helping the industry to
remain profitable might be that it could help fund sex education programmes for children.
She said that the online pornography industry is not illegal, and it is being impacted by free and unregulated content on the internet . She proposed that if all adult content were only accessible to customers who specifically opted in to
it through their internet service providers, then the adult industry might see its profits improved. Online porn has suffered economically in the wake of free YouTube-style sites.
She added after the inquiry. If there are restrictions put on to what people can see, that will have a beneficial effect on the industry. If government or ISPs put in place restrictions that does enable the mainstream industry to [recover
economically], that would be the point at which you could apply pressure.
Smith was keen to stress that she did not propose limiting or censoring legal pornography, but that she wanted to make sure only people who were allowed to see it could do so. I genuinely don't think mainstream pornographers want young people
to see their material because it risks limiting what they can make for adults, she said. She conceded that her proposal may be technically challenging.
She said that the adult industry was already in a parlous state and that it would be unlikely to be able to fund education programmes at the moment. She said that although the chances of her proposals coming to fruition are not great, there are reasonable people in the porn industry
The committee will take evidence from ISPs next month.