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Ofcom releases internet safety measure report

Ofcom has released its report on the latest network level filtering methods put in place by the UK’s biggest broadband providers, in order to prevent children from seeing inappropriate content while browsing the web.

By on July 22, 2014 at 13:00 PM
Ofcom releases internet safety measure report

In July 2013, four of the UK's major internet service providers, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, committed to offering every new broadband customer a 'family-friendly network level filtering service' by the end of December 2013. In practise, this means providers are now required to offer parental controls that block inappropriate content before it even reaches the user's computer. 

One year later, and the Department for Culture Media and Sport has asked Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, to report on the measures put in place by the ISPs. This is actually the second of three reports on the subject. The first looked at how parents were keeping children safe online between 2012 and 2013, while the final report will take a look at how those methods have changed from 2014 to 2015. The hope is that by 2015, parents will have a much better understanding of the parental controls available to them.

What parental control filters have been put in place?

Every one of the four providers has now introduced the network level filters, which keep children safe from any inappropriate content no matter what device they are using. Anything from an iPad to a games console will be covered by the filter, although the providers did note that in app or in game content would still be unavoidable.

The choice of whether to use the new filters is now 'unavoidable' and must be given at some point during the set up process. Customers purchasing a new contract online may have to untick a box to remove the filters completely, as they are now left on by default.

What do the filters block?

Different providers offer varying levels of protection from different kinds of content. For instance, Sky's filters can block access to Social networking sites however there are no filters to block content about Alcohol. BT seems to have the widest range of content covered, with everything from Tobacco to Gambling capable of being filtered out.

That being said, all providers offer protection from content that might offer the biggest concerns, such as pornography, drugs and violence. Most will also let you refine the kind of content you allow through the filter, giving you complete control over what you think is appropriate for your kids to see. Right now Virgin Media is the only provider who doesn't offer this feature, however it is something the network is looking into for the future.

Who's using the new filters?

According to the report, take up of the filters has continued to increase with TalkTalk's system way ahead of the rest. 36% of new TalkTalk customers now choose to add on parental controls, which it puts down to the new pre ticked option on its website. In comparison, 8% of Sky's customers have signed up for the service while only 5% and 4% signed up for BT and Virgin Media's filters respectively.

How can I find out more about parental controls?

If you're thinking about upgrading your provider, why not have a chat with one of our broadband experts? We'll talk you through every available option and let you know which supplier is offering exactly the service you are looking for. Whether you are looking for better parental controls or simply a better deal, just call our Switching Support service free on 0800 542 4704.

You can also head to our provider page where we give you all the information you need on the UK's biggest broadband suppliers.

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