Net nanny softwareProblems with Net nanny software.

31 August 2005

As the government announces a major crackdown on violent internet pornography, a new Computing Which? study reveals that parental control software is far from foolproof.

We tested six popular packages aimed at keeping children safe online but most were too difficult for parents to understand and manage. Only Apple's Tiger system scored top marks for ease of use.

Computing Which? Acting Editor Sarah Kidner says:'Software can help make the internet a safer environment for children but there's no substitute for parental involvement. Parents need to take an active role in monitoring what their children are looking at online so they don't inadvertently put them at risk.'

Computing Which? recommends that computers should be kept in a shared living area - not a child's bedroom - and that parents supervise children's time online and encourage them to discuss any disturbing content they've found. Parents should also use control software but not rely on it and should change the password regularly.

Government crackdown on porn

Meanwhile, the government has announced plans to tighten the legal controls on obscene content. Under the proposals, it could become an offence to possess sexually violent images downloaded from the internet.

It's already illegal to publish such images in the UK but obscene material can still be published electronically from abroad. Ministers hope that by creating a new offence it will send a clear message about this material, make it easier to combat the problem.

Under the plans, possessing images electronically would be no different from possessing actual photographs, as with current laws on possessing child pornography.

The Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said:'This is material which is extremely offensive to the vast majority of people, and it should have no place in our society. The fact that it is available over the internet should in no way legitimise it.'

And Metropolitan Police Commander Dave Johnston says police welcome the proposals.