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Ofcom: New broadband users shun porn filters

Posted by malcolm on Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 at 18:01

The vast majority of new broadband users are choosing to reject network level content filtering, according to a report by industry regulator Ofcom. Following government pressure to introduce child protection filtering, since last winter the UK’s largest ISPs have been subjecting all new customers to an “unavoidable choice” as to whether they want such filtering. In accordance with government demands, the option to filter comes “pre-selected”, meaning customers must untick a box in order to avoid network filtering.

Ofcom found that the take-up rates for each provider were

 
BT5%
Sky8%
TalkTalk36%
Virgin Media4%

TalkTalk introduced their family filtering option, branded HomeSafe, back in May 2011, as a value-added service, not as a response to government intervention. The others went live between November 2013 and February 2014.

Ofcom found that Virgin Media were not fully compliant with their commitments to government to present customers with an “unavoidable choice” in person as, in many cases, Virgin’s own service engineers were helping customers set up their new account, meaning that customers did not face the “unavoidable choice” barrier. As a consequence, Virgin Media estimates that since the launch of Web Safe in February 2014, only around 35% of new customers had been presented with an unavoidable choice about implementing the filtering service. The 4% take-up rate amongst Virgin Media customers represents 4% of those who were faced with that choice, not 4% of the total customer base.

BT indicated that 9% chose a network or device level solution, around half of whom chose a network filtering solution. Virgin Media said that 13% of its customers chose to install network level virus filters.

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