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UK Government wants to hear from you about adult content filters

UK Government wants to hear from you about adult content filters

The UK Government’s Department for Education has today launched a public consultation on proposals to make ISPs block access to adult content as standard.

In response to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection from earlier this year, the department has come up with three basic proposals for how to enable content blocks.

The first option is ‘Active Choice’, which ensures that “parents are always presented with an unavoidable choice as to whether or not they want filters and blocks installed on their internet service or internet-enabled device.”

The second option, which we’re calling ‘Opt In’ means that access to adult sites will be blocked by default, meaning subscribers have to opt in to access adult sites should they want to.

A third option would be to combine Active Choice and Opt In, is to present a list of content types (pornography, gambling, pro-anorexia) and have subscribers choose during the sign up process what they want restricted.

BT, Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk have voluntarily signed up to a code of practice which correlates to the first Active Choice option; subscribers are given an unavoidable option to choose one way or another.

TalkTalk has gone one further, launching its HomeSafe product which is used by 350,000 subscribers.

Public consultation on content filters: 6th September deadline

Regarding the second Opt In option, the report concedes that “concerns have been raised that ISPs will hold a list of households that have decided that they want access to adult or harmful content as a result of these decisions,” potentially creating a database of porn users.

Regrettably, the report adds that “This system already works in the mobile phone sector without raising such concerns from customers.”

Research from the Open Rights Group has shown that this isn’t strictly true. We also remember the fuss customers kicked up when O2 applied it’s 18+ content filter last year.

If you disagree with any of these presented options for content filtering or reject the argument about content filtering wholesale, you can have your say. The full consultation can be read online here and you can respond online after having first registered here.

If you’d prefer the snail mail method, following the link above will give you access to Word documents which you can print out, returning the response form to:

Child Safeguarding Division
Department for Education
Level Ground
Sanctuary Buildings
Great Smith Street


Closing date for submissions is Thursday the 6th of September 2012.