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Most Brits say no to Cameron’s online parental controls

British internet users are opting out of the internet filters provided by ISPs under pressure from Prime Minister David Cameron. 

Ofcom found that only TalkTalk users used the filters in any numbers, with 36 per cent opting in, while usage stood at just four per cent of new Virgin Media customers, five per cent of BT customers and eight per cent of Sky customers.

BT, Virgin Media and Sky launched online parental controls after the Prime Minster backed moral watchdog Claire Perry MP’s campaign and declared them vital to ‘protect our children and their innocence’.

BT's Parental Controls were a Christmas present for its broadband users
BT’s Parental Controls were a Christmas present for its broadband users

TalkTalk’s HomeSafe filter has been going since May 2011, BT and Sky launched content filters at the end of 2013, while Virgin Media launched its Web Safe filter in February this year. 

When enabled, the filters block porn sites as well as other adult categories and should be offered as an unavoidable choice when setting up for the first time, although this happened for only one in three of new Virgin Media customers.

Ofcom’s report on Internet Safety Measures said the low take-up for Virgin Media customers was due to engineers speeding up their installation process.

“The majority of new Virgin Media installations involve an engineer visit. Virgin Media believes that in many cases the engineer runs the broadband activation process and bypasses or ignores the filtering choice,” the telecoms watchdog said.

“It has recognised that this is a failure in process and indicated it is taking steps to address this gap.”

The report also highlighted the failings of ISPs and filtering partners over mis-categorised websites that have been wrongly blocked.

BT received eight requests from site owners, of which six needed to be re-categorised, while Sky managed on average to get 110 such reports from website owners.

TalkTalk said it received on average five reports a month from site owners, while Virgin Media had received 23 queries from customers, of which 13 resulted in re-classification.

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