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TalkTalk boss backs automatic online parental controls by broadband providers

TalkTalk boss Dido Harding has backed lawmakers’ calls for broadband providers to offer parental controls as standard.

Child online by PictureYouthHarding said parents are already choosing TalkTalk’s HomeSafe service if they’re offered it when they sign up to TalkTalk, and the provider is testing new online safety features.

The Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection recommended that for access to ‘dangerous’ content to be made ‘opt-in’ from one connection, similar to mobile phone networks such as O2.

“I have long believed that child internet safety is akin to road safety for children,” said Harding. “Everyone needs to play a part, as they did in the 70s with the Green Cross Code, seat belt wearing and car seat use.”

“We have been delighted with the number of new customers who are choosing to activate HomeSafe when prompted and we think it shows that active choice really works.

“We also welcome the recommendation of the Independent Parliamentary Inquiry that calls for all ISPs to offer systems like HomeSafe. Our customers tell us that the fact that HomeSafe protects every device is really important to them.”

One in three new TalkTalk customers – equivalent to the proportion of UK households with children – are choosing to turn on parental controls when they’re offered a choice as they sign up.

Over 350,000 families are using HomeSafe and, Harding wants this to rise to a million by March 2013.

HomeSafe has been used to block 3.5 million web pages at the request of customers. Suicide and self-harm is the number one category of content that parents choose to block, followed by pornography, then weapons and violence.

TalkTalk is currently piloting its new internet safety resource with a local school in Brent which will then be rolled out nationwide. TalkTalk also regularly runs internet safety workshops for customers.

But ‘opt-in’ parental controls have been criticised by civil liberties campaigners for revealing information to broadband providers about users’ personal choices.

It’s also been claimed they fail to protect children if adults choose not to block ‘dangerous’ websites, instead of tackling deeper social problems. 

Image: PictureYouth/Flickr