Ofcom publishes report on internet safety measures


Ofcom has publishedreport for  the government outlining measures the UK’s largest internet service providers have put in place to help parents protect children from harmful content online.

This follows an agreement between the Government and BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, the four largest fixed line internet service providers (ISPs), announced in July 2013. Each ISP committed to offer new customers ‘family-friendly network-level filtering’ by the end of December 2013.

The report also describes measures taken by ISPs to present a pre-ticked ‘unavoidable choice’ to new customers on whether or not to activate the filter, and includes initial take-up data among new customers offered filters.

The filters apply to all web based internet content, on any device that is connected to the fixed broadband network in the home.

The report finds that the four ISPs now have a network level family friendly filtering service, which is offered to new customers. New subscribers receive a prompt from their ISP during the broadband set-up process, describing the filtering service and offering the consumer a pre-ticked option to use the filtering service.

The filters allow a user to manage access in their home to a range of internet services, helping parents to prevent their children accessing content that is not appropriate for them.

There are a number of filtering categories common to all four ISPs. Suicide and self-harm, pornography, file sharing, crime, drugs, violence and hate are covered by each provider’s classification systems.

By the government’s target of December 2013, BT, Sky, and TalkTalk each offered a filtering service allowing parents to restrict categories of online content, and presented new users with the unavoidable choice of whether to activate the filters.

The ISPs are currently working towards meeting their commitment to Government to contact all their existing customers and present them with an unavoidable choice about whether or not to install the family friendly content filters by the end of 2014.

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