Todays main job was to set up an hosting account with Zen Internet and start the process of porting the regional Mothers’ Union website I want to re-write to them. The idea is then to re-write using a format similar to the one here.
Then BBC News at 8am briefly touched on this item http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7904607.stm seeming to suggest that Zen were refusing to block child porn sites. I started asking myself about the ethics of proceeding with my plan: Mothers’ Union is a Christian charity supporting family life worldwide; should we as a regional group use a host who appears to condone the activities of pornographers (of any sort but especially regarding kids)?
Breakfasted I was delighted to find Alec had noted the relevant news item on Facebook for me (thanks), so I briefly commented and then read it. I then had an interesting conversation with a friend which pointed out several things:
It appears that Zen are very concerned about the way the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) behave by just blocking the websites but not appearing to act. Zen are much more pro the european system that can’t now be acted on in Britain because it gets sent straight back to the IWF.
In the European system apparently works such that if you report a site you get indemnity for reporting it – something that the IWF don’t guarantee. Then they block it but also make best efforts to investigate it.
IWF have also gone slightly ott recently by blocking not just an image but the whole text on wikipedia entry: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7770456.stm
There are several issues here firstly related to being a regional Charity Trustee for a Christian charity:
- I need to use a host whose ethical policy reflects the charity’s aims, i.e. to promote family life;
- we also need to use a host who offers the facility we want to use at a price that the charity sees as being reasonable relate to the market place of other hosts (so we won’t be staying with Claranet whatever happens);
- we also need to improve our web presence as fast as possible and dramatically and I have Trustees Standing Committee approval to proceed with Zen as host.
However there are other considerations:
- Zen Internet are being talked about as ‘happy’ to allow their customers to access these images using very emotive language, which does not appear to reflect the real reason why Zen are not signed up to the IWF code of practice;
- Why have Zen and any other firms facing the same issues, not got the freedom to apply the European system if they think it is better?
- If Zen were really against the hosting of such (lucrative?) sites could they not simply make a business decision not to do so, making themselves more attractive to prospective users who do not wish to be associated (even vaguely) with such behaviour?
There is probably more to it than even this, but this is as far as my brain has got right now. I suspect I won’t take any further action for 24 hours on this, especially since family comes first and my son is on an INSET day today.
I also await further comment from you!