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
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
What parental control filters have been put in
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
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
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
You can also head to our provider page where we
give you all the information you need on the UK's biggest broadband