U.K. Org Calls for More Filters to Be Installed on PCs

Tod Hunter
LONDON — Britain's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is renewing its call for child safety software to be built into new computers after a test showed that major PC retailers did not offer parents programs to protect their children.

NSPCC staff members, acting as consumers, visited 28 major computer retailers. They stressed the computer would be used by a child on the Internet. None of the first 14 stores offered or mentioned child safety software/parental controls. In the remaining 14 stores, the staff members asked what child safety software was available and "only two stores were able to offer clear and authoritative advice," according to NSPCC.

Software that was not child friendly and would not block access to illegal or undesirable sites was recommended. Another suggestion was to filter out unwanted adult sites by entering web addresses of inappropriate sites manually. Some store clerks could not offer advice or software when asked.

"The Internet has created a whole new world where children are free to come and go as they please," said Zoe Hilton, policy advisor at the NSPCC. "They hang out and make friends, just as they do in the playground at school. For some time we have been calling on companies to help by pre-installing software which is set to a high level of security."

The U.K. law enforcement agency the Home Office plans to announce minimum requirements for approval for child-protective Internet products and services soon, according to the NSPCC. In order to gain accreditation, child safety software must prohibit access to unsuitable Internet-based content, prohibit unsuitable communications via Internet-based services, prevent unauthorized users from changing or disabling the access control system, and maintain a default level of protection upon implementation with no user intervention, except installation when required.

ASACP Executive Director Joan Irvine told XBIZ about Internet child-protection efforts in the U.S. “What parents need is education. There are currently more resources available now than ever before for parents to use in order to protect their children from seeing age-inappropriate material online," Irvine said. "For example, Microsoft Windows Vista has built-in parental filtering which recognizes the RTA 'Restricted to Adults' website label. It is very likely that someday all computers will automatically come with parental controls that give parents options to implement.”

For more information about the NSPCC's programs, visit their website