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Will the university block porn in halls?

Do we have a right to look at naked people on the internet?  David Cameron doesn’t seem to think so: he has recently set out plans that would force every internet provider in the country to block access to porn.

This would mean users have to opt in to pornography, presumably through a slightly awkward phone conversation with a stranger. How would this affect freshers living in University Halls though? Would the University choose to open its networks to the world of cyber sex?

Whatever your social background, it’s hard to escape the expense of university. As well as funding an endless conveyor belt of jäger bombs, students (and their parents) have to find a large amount of money to pay for accommodation – one year in a catered hall can cost up to £5993. The money pays for a lot – you don’t have to worry about food, utility bills or hoovering, but does it buy the right to look at digital boobs? Is unrestricted browsing something we should expect from our time in halls of residence?

University is perceived by many to be one massive shag-fest, but that doesn’t mean that Nottingham students don’t value porn – in an IMPACT survey last year, 78% of you admitted to watching it regularly. When we asked Second Year Classical Civilisations student Dan Grant about the possibility of it being blocked, he told us “Not everyone goes home with someone after Crisis on a Wednesday night, don’t kick a man when he’s down!”

78% of you admitted to watching [porn] regularly.

It may not be something discussed in polite conversation, but watching porn is obviously an activity that students would sorely miss. Would the University seriously consider enforcing a block? Websites that are considered to be dangerous are already blocked on the network, so the precedent is already there. The possibility is already being looked at, as a spokesperson from the University revealed: “The University has noted developments in this area and will continue to monitor the situation.”  An outright ban would undoubtedly irritate many, but if every higher education institute in the country were to enforce it, it’d be difficult to protest against it.

The Students’ Union have said that they might get involved if there was enough of an outcry. They told IMPACT, “If large numbers of students were to raise concern over the University not opting-in then we would consider what action to take.” This demonstrates sensitivity to the difficulties the block may cause, and raises the possibility that the University may face some resistance if it went down that path.

For now, it is hard to say what would happen if these plans were to become law. It does seem unfair to expect freshers to spend large amounts of cash to live on campus, and then deny them access to digital dongs. There is a good chance however, that universities may avoid the legislation altogether. A University spokesperson told IMPACT, “The agreement announced recently covers the four major internet providers, not smaller private networks such as JANET, which is used by UK universities.”

Not everyone goes home with someone after Crisis on a Wednesday night, don’t kick a man when he’s down!

If that remains true, it would appear that freshers’ access to pornography will go undisturbed. However, the issue is unlikely to go away. As cyberspace becomes even more important in the running of our society, the government will undoubtedly push for greater control over what we can access.

Those living in the University may be able to sidestep the prospect of a porn block for now, but we should remain aware that the threat of governmental censorship is not going to go away.

Will Hazell 

Follow @ImpactFeatures on twitter

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1 Comment

  1. October 28, 2013 at 19:11 — Reply

    “Do we have a right to look at naked people on the internet? David Cameron doesn’t seem to think so: he has recently set out plans that would force every internet provider in the country to block access to porn.”

    Recently being July, 3 months ago.

    “This would mean users have to opt in to pornography, presumably through a slightly awkward phone conversation with a stranger. How would this affect freshers living in University Halls though? Would the University choose to open its networks to the world of cyber sex?”

    Most ISPs are and will implement an online system for doing this, as they’re the first to admit that they have too many calls to deal with.

    The University isn’t an ISP, so it doesn’t really decide whether something is blocked or not. JANET is the ISP for the University and it allows pornography in halls/residences or for research. Maybe you could ask them how they plan on dealing with Cameron’s idea?

    The University does open its network to the world of cyber sex, and for research purposes it probably always will.

    Mobile networks have implemented this system for decades now. If I want to browse 4chan or place a cheeky bet on Vodafone/O2/giffgaff/most others I already need to login to my online account and enable adult content.

    You only need to perform this action once, so it’s hardly a huge inconvenience; we’re talking 60 seconds every time we changed ISP.

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