It’s not Russia apparently…

It’s us – plus the Dutch and Americans – who apparently are host to most of the internet content that you wouldn’t want your husband, home help or children to see.

Analysis by MetaCert, which specialises in internet and mobile safety software, claims that 60 per cent of all websites containing explicit content are hosted in the United States. Behind the US come the Netherlands and then the UK.

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This investigation, though interesting, doesn’t list Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan or other, seemingly lawless, states. This seems most odd as it is a commonly held belief that most online smut originates some way east of Berlin.

David Cameron’s recently announced initiative to make UK-based ISPs block illegal content by default may change our present position in the rankings, but it won’t stop any of that content getting through from elsewhere.

That’s the thing about content – it’s down to either sites or users to police what they’re lobbing into the internet-o-sphere or watching once it’s online. There will always be ISPs prepared to host the illegal, the immoral and the perverted and there is nothing DC can do about it.

A little local news story illustrates the point perfectly.

Cheshire-based Children’s Immunisation Centre, which sells separate measles, mumps and rubella vaccines to parents worried about the combined injection, was this week ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to remove “misleading” claims from its website. These implied a link between the single MMR jab and autism and helped stoke parental fears (and empty their wallets).

However, the faulty study linking the single MMR jab to autism, published in 1998, has since been entirely discredited. The doctor responsible was struck off the medical register and is no longer allowed to practice medicine in the UK.

That this crucial piece of information was not on the Centre’s site led to the ASA’s order.

In its response to the ASA, the Centre said that its website information did not constitute advertising. Well, in that case, what did they think it was? Independent impartial advice?

Looks to me as though the CIC needs to consider carefully its content strategy and, more importantly, what professional standards are used by the folk who write it.

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