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Proposed porn block in South Africa could be impossible

The South African Law Reform Commission have proposed the blocking of internet porn in their discussion paper on ‘pornography and children’ but anyone with an inkling of technology will be able to bypass the block.

As an independent advisory body the paper focused on  the protection of children from exposure to pornography and  material containing child sexual abuse and recommended that all acts where a child is exposed to pornographic content should be seen as criminal.

As part of their recommendation, they stated that all devices be set to a default which blocks the inappropriate content with an opt-in option for those able to prove they are over the age of 18 years.

This would mean that an ISP or the company from whom you purchase your laptop or device from would be required to set the default, preventing the display of pornography.

The block may prevent young children from accessing adult content accidentally when online, it will not prevent under-age users from locating pornography when actively searching online.

The reason being that a VPN (virtual private network) service allows a user to hide their online activity from their service provider, including their IP address, and many VPNs do not store internet activity logs which means there is no trace of which websites are utilised.

Mybroadband said that alternatively users can encrypt their connection or make use of a browser such as Opera where users are able to set their location as Europe, Asia or America.

China have blocked VPNs as a means any international online services are blocked in the country, but for South Africa to do this would require a separate legislation.