Google slams UK porn filtering proposal -

Search engine Google has said that government plans to force users to opt-in to access adult content would be "a mistake".

The comments came on the back of a debate in Hertfordshire, where Google warned against allowing private companies to manage lists of inappropriate websites.

According to the BBC, which was there, the debate was over the UK government having a word with ISPs to determine if such filters should be on by default - and thus effectively banning porn sites unless someone says they want to look at them.

That would mean a jolly embarrassing call to an ISP helpline which few British people would want to make, particularly if someone called Sharon Kinihelpyou answers the phone.

Sarah Hunter, Google's head of public policy, said the search giant was strongly in favour of education over technical measures. This surprised us as we would have thought educating people about porn was a little unnecessary - most people know what it is anyway.

She said that while Google believes children shouldn't be seeing pornography online, the company disagrees on the mechanisms to stop them. Cutting off their hands or poking out their eyes is apparently not an option.

She said that "we" should be making more effort than we've done in the past to make sure parents really do know the risks children face online.

Even TalkTalk, which offers filters to its customers, thinks that having them on by default is a pretty bad idea.

Andrew Heaney, TalkTalk's executive director of strategy and regulation warned against filters being on by default, describing it as a "slippery slope" which we feel is an interesting choice of words.

The other side is that the censorship will be conducted by private companes, which is something which sticks the heebeejeebees up Kirsty Hughes, who is the chief executive of Index on Censorship.

She said that this was "privatisation" of freedom of expression as porn is legal content. The question is about who decides what gets blocked and puts together these lists.

She said that the government was talking about putting legal communication out of bounds or something you have to turn on to be part of that free world.

A recent study commissioned by the Open Rights Group revealed that many sites were being wrongly blocked.