THE BLOG

Internet Porn - Are We Being Conned?

18/06/2013 11:08 BST | Updated 17/08/2013 10:12 BST

What can you do in 90 minutes? Take a particularly long lunch hour, I suppose. Perform a 10k run followed by some intensive stretching and a leisurely shower. Or maybe watch a repeat episode of Britain's Got Talent.

Or you could solve the biggest problem affecting families today. Sick internet porn.

That's right, the Government is clearing an entire hour and a half to listen to representations from Google, Yahoo, MSN, domestic charities, childcare groups, various interested parties as well as Maria Miller, the culture secretary, and then it will make a decision.

But a decision on what? Are we being conned here? How can you solve a problem as pernicious and unregulated as access to porn, indecent images, illegal downloads and the wild west nature of the web, in the time it takes to watch three episodes of Friends?

It is a depressing truth that this Government is more obsessed with its PR image than any before it. Every Minister is well schooled in promoting themselves, often above the good work for which we pay them to do.

Thus the embattled Culture Secretary has used the 'porn summit' to further her own credentials as the 'Cabinet's only mother'. Honestly, so what? Does a mother have better insight into children and porn than the two dozen fathers in Cabinet?

Or is Mrs Miller, who is under intense pressure following a series of what some consider to be lacklustre performances, gently nudging her boss to say: 'Get rid of me and you enrage the nation's mums'. It is shameful if she is using this 90-minute summit to protect and further her career.

However what is more shameful is that this Whitehall meeting is a stitch-up, designed to make the public feel the Government is in charge, not the massively powerful internet companies it claims to want to regulate. Without a doubt, illegal images will be wiped from databases soon after the meeting, or at least authorities will be informed by private companies as to who is downloading them. At last.

But that's not really doing anything is it? These things are illegal anyway so outlawing them is, well, pretty meaningless.

What will not be decided - and what the Government has no intention of forcing companies like Google to regulate - is access to porn. Yet that is the very issue that most concerns mums like Maria across the country. I don't know where to find illegal images - I do know where to find sick porn, though, and I'm pretty sure my children can find it too.

That is what most worries us. That is the real moral conundrum of our age. That is what the Government could concentrate its efforts on and thus change society for the better. And that will take longer than 90 minutes. It may even take an all-nighter with a pizza delivery - but the Government only does that when it's trying to tell the Press how to behave.

How very sad.