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TalkTalk’s parental filter disables disability blogs – but not by default

TalkTalk has been accused for denying customers access to a number of disability blogs with its HomeSafe filter. 

A number of bloggers and their readers took to Twitter to complain to TalkTalk after searches in blocked.org.uk showed that HomeSafe was preventing access to sites including A Latent Existence and Where’s the Benefit? 

TalkTalk has stated that it does not block access to disability blogs – or any blogs – by default. 

Access Denied: TalkTalk's HomeSafe filter can be customised to allow - or deny - access to large groups of sites at once
Access Denied: TalkTalk’s HomeSafe filter can be customised to allow – or deny – access to large groups of sites at once

The HomeSafe filtering software, which blocks pornography by default, lets customers restrict or allow access to categories of sites, such as pornography, gambling, self-harm sites – and social networks. 

A TalkTalk spokesperson said that the social network filter is responsible for preventing access to blogs. 

The spokesperson said: “Social networking filters are not switched on by default, and we will only filter out blogs and social networking sites when a customer has actively logged into their online account area and chosen to enable filters for this specific type of content. There is also a clear description of what each category covers so customers are making an informed decision. 

“Customers using HomeSafe to filter out other types of content, like sites about violence or suicide, can still access blogs, which are not about those specific subjects, and social networking sites.” 

Recombu understands that only a small number of TalkTalk customers have the social networking filter on, with the majority of customers blocking access to self-harm and adult content sites first. 

The spokesperson added that customers can notify TalkTalk if they think a site has been inappropriately filtered by clicking a button when they see the HomeSafe warning, or getting in touch via email. 

TalkTalk introduced HomeSafe in 2011 in order to give customers more control over sites accessed in their homes. HomeSafe is a network-level filter, meaning every device in the home using the same TalkTalk broadband would be subject to the same filters. 

Since then, every major ISP in the UK has launched a similar service (albeit at the Government’s behest) and TalkTalk has launched similar MobileSafe and HomeSafe for landlines services. 

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