Sky reveals that the great majority of its broadband customers continue to use its Broadband Shield content filter and parental controls system.
Introduced to new customers in late 2013, Sky Broadband Shield lets parents block out specific types of content at the network level, as opposed to on individual machines. This means any device using your home broadband connection, whether that’s a desktop PC or a phone on the WiFi, will be subjected to the same content locking measures.
In January this year, Sky announced that it would start proactively offering Sky Broadband Shield to all of its customers, something which it’s recently finished doing.
Sky’s brand director of communications products Lyssa McGowan reveals that Sky changed the default position of all customers connections to have Broadband Shield turned on, which has resulted in a spike in uptake of the service.
McGowan said: “We wanted to give our customers a choice whilst making their online safety a priority. We concluded that the safest and easiest way to do this was to make the default position of Sky Broadband Shield ‘on’ but make it easy for customers to adjust or decline at any time.
“The 70 per cent who have kept the protection compares well to our earlier attempts to reach existing customers: less than 5 per cent engaged previously when we emailed to ask them whether they wanted to turn it on.”
Previous surveys from Ofcom have suggested that many parents choose not to use parental controls, with some admitting that they didn’t know how to use or enable them. Forcing customers to make a choice seems to have made an impact, at least in Sky’s case.
As well as picking from pre-selected categories, Sky Broadband Sheild lets parents can also blacklist specific websites that fail to get caught up in the dragnet.
You can also whitelist specific sites too, if the Broadband Shield is overzealous in its blocking – file sharing news site TorrentFreak once found itself on Sky’s naughty step, even though it’s a totally legitimate destination.
Last November, Sky updated Broadband Shield, adding a Watershed feature giving users control over when in the day parental controls could be applied.
Broadband Shield is Sky’s response to a government consultation which called on the UK’s leading ISPs to make parental controls easier to access and implement. As well as Broadband Shield, TalkTalk has launched HomeSafe, BT has launched Parental Controls and Virgin Media offers customers Web Safe.
As well as blocking access to sutes featuring pornography and gambling, Sky Broadband Shield can also be used to automatically block access to any sites suspected of containing malware. It’s unclear from Sky’s figures what features of Broadband Shield customers are making the most out of – or even how many of its customers are parents or guardians.