How will the New Zealand Government regulate to address children's access to pornography online?
Why do Western democratic governments typically not regulate ISPs, the porn industry or other internet information services who effectively make content accessible to children?
This is the question that Dr Keen's doctoral research has grappled with.
Her work examined government efforts to establish content filtering and age verification in Australia and the UK which have taken place since the mid-1990s. She found that although governments have threatened to regulate internet intermediaries, and may have introduced legislation to support this, they invariably pull back. Instead, we have seen a proliferation of legislation and policies that focus on disciplining individual internet users who make poor media choices, and increasing the responsibility of individuals to navigate online media risks.
In terms of children's exposure to adult content, this policy landscape reinforces the expectation that parents and children manage these media risks themselves, a situation that can result in parents further restricting children's access and participation online. Supervising children is proving increasingly difficult as the ways in which children can access this content or the content finds them, grows more complex in the now post-desktop ecology. We need a fresh approach to thinking about these issues and possible solutions.
It seems that the New Zealand Government is attempting to address the issue of children's exposure to pornography and it will be interesting to see what solutions will emerge within our policy landscape.
Listen to Dr Keen on Radio New Zealand, Andrew Cushen from InternetNZ, and Serge Acker from OCL Totem in the UK, for a glimpse of some of the issues at stake.