Today's discussion:

Your freedom to watch porn doesn’t trump our duty to protect children

An adult’s absolute right to guaranteed privacy online in every circumstance in no way outweighs our duty to protect children from harmful content on the internet. “Ordered liberty” often requires that the strong in society give up some freedoms in order for us to collectively protect the weak.

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Ian MacRae

A solution for both problems (kids n’ porn & schools) is to have no data on your kids phones. Patental controls on site access are available for computers.

The data problem for adults using porn sites is the risk of blackmail or public shaming if user data is published. Not that online porn is a key industry but it is a tool to reduce criminal control of sex workers.

As with gender issues, parental knowledge & management is probably the best solution.

26th February 2024 at 8:33 am
Michael F

Good luck with that. There’s free wifi everywhere these days. Kids will find a way to access things they shoudn’t. It’s their nature.

26th February 2024 at 1:12 pm
Paul Attics

We should be able to all agree that discovering and viewing this spectrum of legal sexual content is not healthy for those under a certain age, no? Obviously, it potentially can become unhealthy for those of any age.

Rather than try to slow the flow/availability of access of the content by minors, education of the spectrum of risks may be a more effective and realistic approach. Control of access to the internet (filters, time of day, parental controls on devices) by parents is another approach. As with most things, it is likely not an either/or situation.

Such prohibition measures only create speedbumps/friction for minors that want the content. However, variable-based (age) prohibition, being almost certainly not effective enough, create other potential problems that may outweigh the benefits. Having all people identify themselves to view otherwise publicly available and legal category of content of any persuasion violates principles of personal freedom, and as such, is more paramount when the prohibition is doomed to fail.

26th February 2024 at 8:36 am
Paul Attics

Obviously, I did not find the author’s pre-buttles convincing.

26th February 2024 at 8:45 am
Lauraine

If parents would talk honestly with their children, then children would not be curious about that which is usually off limits.

26th February 2024 at 4:40 pm
Janet Bufton

There is already not an unfettered right for adults to access to porn everywhere and in all situations. We do not allow someone to broadcast pornography on a screen in a playground in broad daylight just because that’s where they’d like to watch it. This is uncontroversial, and acting like there is a large constituency of libertarians arguing that the right of adults to watch porn where and when and how they want to trumps in all cases the goal of protecting children and respecting the rights of other parents isn’t something we should worry about. It is also uncontroversial that society and parents have not yet figured out how to manage kids’ smartphone use—there is broad concern with this, and many people working on many approaches to address the widely recognized problem.

The entire question, which Ms Roth sidesteps—not for any disingenuous reason but because we simply don’t know what would be proposed—is one of the actual policies. If there were an unintrusive technology that would not affect the ability of other online users to go about their business, that would not create data vulnerabilities or train users to fall for phishing scams, that would not chill speech and expression—something akin to saying, “Adults watch porn away from children, not on playgrounds”, then this would be uncontroversial, too. We probably wouldn’t need legislation to make sure it was adopted.

Any policy pursued needs also to balance concern for the (limited and often earned or conditional) privacy kids *ought to* have. There is mounting evidence that the elimination of unsupervised spaces for kids, whether online or physical, is harming their mental well-being. Giving our kids autonomy and privacy comes with risks, but risks are part of growth an learning. Replacing helicopter parents with a helicopter regulator would eliminate flexibility that parents might have in their approach to teaching their kid about safe and prudent smartphone and internet use. The parents who are most worried about pornography and most willing to limit their child’s privacy and access to prevent it are not the only parents whose parenting choices matter.

Until we know what policy would actually look like, promises like Poilievre’s are cheap talk for the base. No specific policy follows from Ms Roth’s appeal to caring about something that’s already a widespread concern, and until a specific policy is on the table we can’t say whether or not its tradeoffs the ones we want to make.

26th February 2024 at 8:51 am
X

Status quo is certainly not working and is not acceptable.

26th February 2024 at 7:47 am
Zac

I dont disagree with regulation and some controls on pornography (like other harmful things…) As would I feel most Canadians, to the authors point. But I find an incredible amount of irony that Pollievre is keen to regulate society and not other pressing harms, like the human impacts on the environment. There are religious elements to the sense of urgency from my viewpoint. And worst of all is how it was presented with anti trans rhetoric. ..Talk about taking a good policy ides and then poisoning it on the vine for so many Canadians.

26th February 2024 at 10:52 am
Kim Morton

A challenging question indeed. I’m going to start by suggesting that 98% of people know about as much about how computers work as they do about what happens when they turn the key in their car. Politicians even less so, as they tend to work in sound bites that appeal to the faithful. As with most things, there will be a tradeoff between rights of many groups and inviting even more bureaucratic invasion of our lives is a difficult sell. Probably the only common ground is that everyone will agree that it is important to protect the kids. I think the solution will have to come from the technical side, not the political side to be effective and cost efficient.

26th February 2024 at 10:29 am
A. Chezzi

“In high-functioning societies, we trade off rights, privileges, and duties all the time in public policy-making. “Ordered liberty” often requires that the strong in society give up some freedoms in order for us to collectively protect the weak. ” This is what a judge in Quebec said regarding the implementation of the Emergency Measures Act. I don’t expect that the “freedom fighters,” are in accord with this. I don’t see how Poilievre can follow this when it will rub his base the wrong way. He has in his shadow cabinet people who are strong social conservatives and too set on implementing an ideology.
It is very much up to parents to teach and guide and monitor their children who are using the net. Parents cannot be with their children 24/7. This is where trust comes in. If, we as parents, are talking with our children about such matters and modelling the values we want them to live, there is a better chance they will follow what we teach. Many parents, unfortunately, are not ready, equipped, or comfortable talking about such matters and therein lies the downfall of approaches like Danielle Smith and company.
There are times when freedoms must be curtailed for the good of a healthy society. This is one of those times.

26th February 2024 at 9:05 am
Michael F

So PP talks about personal freedoms out of one side of his mouth. Typical hypocrisy. This will pin the libertarians against the evangelicals. Good luck keeping that base unified.

26th February 2024 at 11:40 am