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UK governement pledges porn-free pubic Wi-Fi

David Cameron has told The Telegraph that he wants porn to disappear from public spaces and he's demanding that companies which run public Wi-Fi help him in his quest to rid coffee shops of furtive porn viewing. The announcement is one of many Cameron has made about the overarching UK Porn Block

The Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety has asked for a ban on adult material in all public places. That would include fast food restaurants like McDonalds and places like Starbucks and, presumably, any other place where there is currently widespread masturbation. It's not clear how much of a problem public porn is, but presumably it's pretty serious to require such a move. 

Of course the ongoing problem of people using VPNs remains. Anyone seeking to watch porn in public would be able to continue to do so by simply turning on a VPN. Businesses can take some steps to block VPNs on their public networks, but doing so would also prevent people using work networks from getting things done while in their establishments. 

And of course ever-increasing mobile network speeds mean that punters are less likely to even need public Wi-Fi to access porn. It's also unclear how the government plans to stop people from popping on a grot movie they've got saved to their phone on laptop. 

While no right-thinking human would oppose a public Wi-Fi porn block it's also so ludicrously poorly thought-out that it's hard not to find the whole thing hilarious. Most of the government's proposals on this tricky subject are so full of flaws and dangerous side-effects that they don't stand up to close scrutiny. 

The general conservative (both a small and large C are appropriate here) war on porn will have an impact both on the adult entertainment industry and on young people with questions about their sexuality. While the aim of keeping children safe is a nobel one the proposed legislation will almost certainly have unintended consequences. 

Blocks are a broad brush and until we can be sure that they don't prevent people from seeking much needed help and advice they will ultimately do a lot of harm. And it's worth reminding the public that kids can legally have actual sex at 16 and many are doing so well before they're technically allowed. Blocking advice and help, even by accident, is dangerous and counter-productive. 

And that's before we even consider the potential problems that could arise when the government is free to block websites without good oversight.