Conservative MP Joy Smith says she wants to see Canada adopt legislation that requires residents to request access to pornography from their internet service providers or have all pornographic material preemptively blocked.
Earlier this week, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced ISPs will begin blocking access to online pornography unless costumers specifically ask to see it.
The legislation would also involve search engines — requiring them to block certain phrases and types of pornography.
Smith thinks Canada should do the same.
"We’re talking about protecting children. We’re not talking about adults. Adults can log onto their ISP computers, check on the box and turn off the filter," she said.
In Canada, illegal images such as child pornography are already blocked, but Smith’s proposed changes would be the first time companies would be forced to install a filter for legal, adult pornography.
The Canadian Association of Internet Providers advocates for ISPs and said this is hard to do and raises concerns about censorship.
"Typically you can’t filter something until you know it exists," said Tom Copeland, who chairs the group. He added, "If it’s not illegal, it shouldn’t be censored."
Winnipeggers had mixed reactions to the idea.
Mary Hoogervorst said as a parent she thinks it would be a good thing to have.
"I think it would protect children. It would take them awhile to figure it out, and hopefully being a good parent, you could see they’ve tried several times to unblock it," she said.
But Winnipegger Erin Rodgers disagrees. She thinks the bill amounts to censorship.
"I’m not a big porn consumer, but I like the fact I can watch what I want without having someone tell me what’s acceptable," she said. "Also, what’s porn? Is something that’s nude but artistic porn? Is someone doing something very creative but a little bit out there?"
Rodgers said it’s up to parents to watch their children and ensure they’re not accessing inappropriate content.
“I understand if you have kids, you don’t want porn on the computer, but I feel that’s something people make as a personal choice. I don’t really like someone telling me what I can and can’t see on the internet,” she said.
Winnipegger Alan Fehr agrees. He said parents need to do a better job of monitoring their children.
"Children need to be protected, absolutely, but I think that’s a parent’s job, not the government’s job,” said Fehr. “I thought we had freedom of choice. Why would we need to jump through extra hoops to get what everyone else is providing?"
Smith said regardless of public opinion, she plans to move forward with the bill when Parliament resumes in the fall.