David Cameron’s bungled back-to-basics porn proposals show once again that the Prime Minister – who famously thought lol meant lots of love - is clueless when it comes to computers. Meanwhile the Government’s flagship Universal Jobmatch website is littered with spoof, scam and sex work vacancies which could place vulnerable jobseekers at horrific risk.
His proposal of a porn opt in for all internet users may look good on paper, but it reveals a shocking lack of understanding of how the internet actually works. This type of internet filtering is already used by mobile phone companies and has led to many websites – including this one on some networks – being blocked for containing swearing, information on sexual health or LGBT content. Any attempt at a further block would have a chilling effect across the net. Websites funded by advertising would be hesitant to publish posts on sexual health, sexual abuse, rape, or countless other important issues which may use words which trigger the porn filter.
Yet somehow Cameron promises his crooked friends at News International that The Sun’s page 3 will not be affected, because soft porn published by right wing newspapers barons is simply spiffing. The truth is that without legislation, and a British Board of Censors classifying every website, then it will be down to Internet Service Providers, and the quality of their filters, to decide what people can or cannot see online.
And this is why the policy has already descended into shambles as Cameron is confronted with technology that seems to be beyond his understanding.
Unfortunately it is not just the Prime Minister who is computer illiterate. One of the biggest risks to the safety of young internet users is the Universal Jobmatch website. This is the job hunting site devised by Iain Duncan Smith and which many people on benefits are currently being compelled to sign up to.* The website is not just aimed at those on benefits, but everyone looking for work. With many of the jobs part time, or weekend only, it is likely that those under 18 also use the site to find jobs.
This website has suffered from a deluge of spoof job vacancies, but also obvious scams and dubious self-employment opportunities which often require unemployed people to pay money up front. Jobs which don’t pay minimum wage have also been a consistent feature of the site.
Despite Government guidelines, the website still has vacancies for what appears to be sex work, such as this one: “recruiting Dancers for a leading gentleman’s entertainment venue situated in the heart of Birmingham on Broad street.”
The only information given about this employer is an email address, meaning this vacancy could have been placed by almost anyone. Other vacancies on the site provide no information on the employer other than a mobile phone number. Astonishingly there is no safety information on the website, despite the very real risk to unemployed people who may be compelled to contact these alleged employers or face benefits being sanctioned.
So whilst Cameron is running round trying to protect us all from internet porn his own Government is responsible for a rogue website that places young internet users at very real risk of harm from sexual offenders, scammers or unscrupulous employers. This is not scare-mongering. Three men were recently murdered in the US after responding to job vacancies advertised online.
The reason for this appalling negligence is down to Iain Duncan Smith’s breath-taking arrogance. Time and time again the DWP have been warned about vacancies that are illegal or downright dangerous being advertised on the site, yet nothing seems to have changed. The Secretary of State would rather a jobseeker ends up abused, exploited or worse than admit he is wrong about the wonders of Universal Jobmatch.
*Whilst a Jobseeker’s Direction can be issued forcing claimants to sign up to the site, there is still no requirement to tick the box giving the Jobcentre access to your account. Claimants can only be forced to use Universal Jobmatch on Jobcentre computers – you can refuse to look for work on the site on your home computer, or in libraries and internet cafes.
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