The BBC’s Technology site has posted a leaked letter that’s been sent to the UK’s biggest ISPs by the Department of Education.
The government wants ISPs to deliver age verification and browser intercept systems that would provide parents with an unavoidable choice over whether to enable parental controls or not. The government also wants ISPs to start referring to this system, currently known as ‘active choice plus’ as ‘default on’.
“The prime minister would like to be able to refer to your solutions [as] “default-on” as people will have to make a choice not to have the filters (by unticking the box).”
This is different to what ISPs have announced in the past, that automatic filtering of adult-only content was not on the cards. ‘Default-on’ is the opposite of this.
The letter also calls on the big ISPs to make donations towards an online safety awareness campaign and asks how much money they’d be willing to spend.
Recently, BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk announced a £1 million donation to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which acts as a hotline for reporting online child abuse and illegal and unsuitable content. It’s understood that the IWF will use the money to proactively campaign for a safer internet.
Default on: The ISPs response to the government letter
Virgin Media and BT have confirmed to Recombu Digital that talks with the government on this issue are ongoing.
A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We’re committed to ensuring every Virgin Media household makes a clear and informed choice about implementing parental controls and we continue to work closely with Government, law enforcement, expert organisations and the rest of the industry to tackle this issue and keep families safe online.”
A BT spokesperson confirmed that a meeting between the UK’s leading ISPs and MP for Devizes Clare Perry was to take place today.
TalkTalk declined to comment about the letter and we’ve yet to hear back from Sky.
All of the UK’s ISPs have separately launched, or have announced plans to launch a whole-home network-level solution. This sees access to specific types of websites (gambling, social networks, pornography) blocked so that they can’t be accessed from any device in the home. Parents with access to a contorl panel can block and unblock access to specific types of site as they wish.
The government and leading tech companies are to regularly meet to discuss proposals on how parental internet controls can be better implemented. An official statement is expected from Downing Street later today.
Image Credit: Flickr user stevendepolo