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Major U.K. ISP Steps Up Porn Filtering

Major U.K. ISP Steps Up Porn Filtering
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May 14, 2012 7:15 AM PDT    Text size: 

LONDON — TalkTalk, one of the U.K.’s largest ISPs has become the first major company to step up support for the country's hot button porn filtering issue.

In an apparent move to appease conservative members of Parliament pushing for full opt-in porn filtering in order to protect children, the company is now making new and existing customers choose whether they want its Homesafe filter installed.

Although the measure falls short of an automatic system that would block porn unless the user chooses to opt-in, it forces its nearly 4.2 million Internet subscribers to make a decision annually.

According to the Daily Mail — that’s mounted its own “Block Online Porn” campaign — the company predicts that 1 million subscribers will sign on by next March.

The filter has been available to Internet subscribers since May 2011 and blocks sites that Talk Talk considers unsuitable for people under 18 including porn, gambling, dating, drugs, weapons, suicide and self harming.

Homesafe will monitor every computer, mobile phone, games console or e-reader for  users that have access to the Internet trough TalkTalk’s home’s broadband connection.

The system is reportedly not foolproof but is geared at stopping kids from accidentally viewing explicit material.

Adults who want their porn can remove the block and turn it back on when necessary.

Dido Harding, chief executive of TalkTalk, said that making the safe for children was as important now as road safety was in the ‘70’s.

“Our competitors are being dreadfully slow to wake up to the fact that society as a whole cares strongly about this,” she told the Sunday Times.

The Mail reported that it believes other ISPs will soon follow suit October with filtering on specific devices, such as mobile phones or laptops, rather than block porn.

Member of parliament Claire Perry, one of the staunchest supporters of a mandatory opt-in program, said TalkTalk’s move was a "massive step forward" and would put pressure on rivals such as BT, Virgin Media and Sky. "They are coming kicking and screaming," she added.

Virgin Media, reportedly services 4.1 million users, while communications giants BT and Sky have 6 and 3.8 million subscribers respectively.

According to The Mail, only 3 percent of porn sites accessible in the U.K. require proof-of-age before allowing access, and two thirds have no sexually explicit content and adults only warning.

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