Today in the House of Assembly, Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster introduced “An Act to Protect Children From Sexual Exploitation on the Internet.” Internet service providers will be required to filter pornography for people who do not want it coming into their homes. It also must be blocked from areas where children have access to free public wireless internet.
MacMaster says children and youth are using the internet all the time without any safeguards in place. Internet service providers have not taken an interest to protect them from what can be accessed at the click of a button.
“Right now, a young child can go onto the internet and search absolutely anything,” says MacMaster. “Parents need help to protect children, and it is time for government to help them with that.”
Lucille Harper is the executive director at the Antigonish Women’s Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association. She says that lessening children’s exposure to pornography is key to promoting healthy relationships and lessening sexualized violence, particularly against women. “Every day we hear accounts of acts of sexualized violence that are perpetrated against women and youth — many of which are attempts to replicate what has been portrayed in pornography,” says Harper. “Limiting the exposure of children to pornography will both support the development of healthy relationships and contribute to reducing sexualized violence.”
Nicole Merrick of Beyond Borders ECPAT Canada says her organization is thankful to MacMaster for putting the bill forward and hopes every Province and Territory across Canada follows the example.
“Technology often outpaces the law’s ability to deal with significant issues – in this case the harm to children through exposure to harmful and pornographic images,” says Merrick. “This proposed legislation represents a significant step in protecting children from these harmful images by setting a safeguard which prioritizes the safety of children as the standard, while allowing internet users full rights to adjust those settings.”
MacMaster says the legislature should take every precaution to ensure that all children and youth in Nova Scotia are protected.
“Surely those of us who sit in the legislature can agree children should be protected from seeing pornography on the internet,” says MacMaster. “This bill will help parents and others who care about that.”
The bill can be found on the Nova Scotia Legislature website.