Almost 80 Percent Of Brits Are Against Default Porn Filter

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“Active choice” is a favourite with parents, but a very vocal minority disagrees

A survey by YouGov conducted for the Internet provider TalkTalk has revealed that just one in four UK adults with children in their household is in favour of having a default porn filter on Internet feeds.

The public consultation on the best way to shield children from Internet pornography, launched in June, closes today. The issue has put at odds people who want to protect children at all costs, and those who value the freedom of the Internet and think guarding children against harmful content should be the parents’ responsibility.

Save the children

When asked what system they thought should be implemented to protect children, 37 percent of UK adults with kids in the household thought that “active choice” – deciding whether to activate the porn filter when signing up for an Internet connection – would be the best measure.

Adults Only, PornA further 30 percent said their Internet service should only be filtered by request. Just 22 percent thought that default filtering of harmful content, such as pornography and sites promoting violence and self-harm, is the best approach.

The findings are supported by TalkTalk’s own research that found that around 80 percent of customers who had been through the “active choice” process thought that it was a good solution.

Meanwhile, over 110,000 people have signed a petition addressed to Jeremy Hunt, the secretary of state for culture, media and sport, demanding ISPs should be made to block access to pornography by default.

According to the Evening Standard, peers, MPs and church figures are among those who have signed the Safetynet petition. They claim that one in three 10-year-olds has “stumbled upon pornography online” and that youths aged 12 to 17 are the largest consumers of Internet porn.

In March, TalkTalk became the first – and so far the only UK ISP – to introduce “active choice” for all new customers. This means people signing up for broadband are asked upfront if they wish to enable HomeSafe, the proprietary network-level parental controls service.

Since HomeSafe was introduced, around one in three new customers are choosing to activate the system, which is roughly equivalent to the number of UK families with dependent children. Sixty percent of those who set up parental controls said they wouldn’t have done so if they hadn’t been prompted.

Porn“We firmly believe that Internet safety is the road safety of our children’s generation,” said Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk.

“We believe that giving customers an active choice about using controls like HomeSafe is the most effective way to engage them in Internet safety and our research shows that our customers feel the same,” she added.

“We know filters always block the wrong sites. Casual mentions of sex get sites blocked. Health education sites are blocked. Even chat sites, bars and clubs are considered reasonable to block for children,” commented Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group.

“So you don’t want to induce adults to live with this sort of filtering. But that is what the Daily Mail and Premier Christian Media have convinced the Department of Education to do. We need an outbreak of common sense to stop this, before we find the Daily Mail’s Nanny State becomes a reality,” he added.

Earlier this year, a report by the Open Rights Group and the LSE Media Policy Project had criticised the widespread over-blocking of mobile Internet in the UK, justified by the desire to protect children from harmful content.

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