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Porn blocking: what the big four ISPs are actually doing

child mouse

By Stewart Mitchell and Barry Collins

Posted on 11 Oct 2011 at 10:28

There has been a lot of confusion and mis-reporting over how Britain's four biggest ISPs will implement blocks on adult content.

Here is what the four ISPs signed up to the new voluntary code of practice - BT, Virgin Media, Sky and TalkTalk - are actually doing to comply with the proposals.

BT

BT will be forcing new subscribers to make a decision on whether they want adult content filters switched on as part of the installation procedure for BT broadband. Only new customers will be forced to make a choice - existing customers will be sent a letter reminding them of BT's filtering software.

BT will continue to use the McAfee Family Protection suite it currently offers to its broadband customers for free. This isn't a network-level block, but PC-based software. That means devices such as smartphones and tablets will not be filtered.

Click here for full details of the BT Family Protection suite (PDF).

Virgin Media

Virgin Media currently operates a similar system to BT, where it offers customers parental control software for their PCs on an opt-in basis.

The software will, according to a Virgin Media spokesperson, "identify sites that you will want to block as a parent", including pornography, gambling and violent websites.

The software works across up to three PCs in the home, but once again devices such as smartphones and tablets accessing the internet via the home Wi-Fi connection will not be filtered.

Click here for full details of Virgin Media Security.

Sky

Sky said it was “too early to get into the technicalities”, but confirmed it would be introducing measures to comply with the Government proposals. “Active choice measures will mean customers have to make a choice not to take advantage of parental controls,” Sky told PC Pro. The company currently offers controls via McAfee software.

"To set up McAfee Parental Controls you’ll need to be signed into your computer with Administrator rights," the company says. "You will also need to create non-Administrator user accounts for each child who uses the computer."

Click here for full details of Sky Parental Controls.

TalkTalk

TalkTalk implemented an opt-in adult content blocking service earlier this year. The Homesafe system provides network-level protection against malware, as well as giving parents the option to block certain types of content, including pornography, gambling and violent websites.

The content filters are applied to every device and user in the home, so there's no way for parents to retain access to adult content while preventing children from doing so, without switching the blacklists off when the children go to bed.

TalkTalk has said it would resist any Government attempts to make filtering compulsory, but said under the proposals new customers would be alerted to HomeSafe. “TalkTalk will be offering all new customers an ‘active choice’ about whether or not they want to use parental controls,” the company said.

Click here for full details of TalkTalk HomeSafe.

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User comments

Business as usual, then

It seems the Gov have decided to 'Be Seen to be Doing Something'
Whereas in reality, it's what the Main ISPs are already doing.

And this took how much time & effort to produce?

By greemble on 11 Oct 2011

@Greemble

Reread the Sky future offering: “Active choice measures will mean customers have to make a choice not to take advantage of parental controls,”

That looks like a compulsory network level filter unless you opt out to me, just what they shouldn't be doing in my opinion. The Macafee option is what they "currently" offer.

By Shuflie on 11 Oct 2011

Sky channels?

I suspect most of Sky's customers also have their TV / movie subscriptions.

Can't say I know how Sky works, but I imagine 'adult' films cost extra.
Wonder if they'll block certain films for those paying extra for the film channels.

They also state it's "too early to get into technicalities" - Possibly drop the opt-in for an opt-out once they've seen what the others are doing or just have a pop-up like the Browser Choice in Windows?

By greemble on 11 Oct 2011

opt-in for an opt-out

Should be vice-versa

I want an edit-after-posting mode...

By greemble on 11 Oct 2011

So presumably all those not running Windows or not installing McCrapee can just ignore this nonsense?

By ballem on 11 Oct 2011

Education

I am studying IT therefore I am on the NET 10 hours a day. I have never stumbled onto an adult content site, in my opinion you have to be looking for these sites. Instead of legislation why not educate our children on how to use the WEB in a safe and productive manner.

By ljaclark on 12 Oct 2011

Yeay! Go TalkTalk!

So it’s technically possible to do; it makes me glad I’ve switched to TalkTalk. Other ISPs are simply just being lazy, and refusing to take seriously the Government requirement. But if BT users reading this feel left out, the good news is, Norton DNS already provides Network-level filtering services free. But you will need to access the router’s setting, and set the DNS address.

Which content filtering policies are available for home and personal use?

The following three pre-defined content filtering policies are available for home and personal use:

Policy 1: Security (198.153.192.40 and 198.153.194.40) This policy blocks all sites hosting malware, phishing sites, and scam sites. To use Policy 1, you should configure the DNS settings of your home router or Web-enabled device to use the following Norton DNS IP addresses: 198.153.192.40 and 198.153.194.40.

Policy 2: Security + Pornography (198.153.192.50 and 198.153.194.50) In addition to blocking unsafe sites, this policy also blocks access to sites that contain sexually explicit material. To use Policy 2, you should configure the DNS settings of your home router or Web-enabled device to use the following Norton DNS IP addresses: 198.153.192.50 and 198.153.194.50.

Policy 3: Security + Pornography + Non-Family Friendly (198.153.192.60 and 198.153.194.60) This policy is ideal for families with young children. In addition to blocking unsafe sites and pornography sites, this policy also blocks access to sites that feature mature content, abortion, alcohol, crime, cults, drugs, gambling, hate, sexual orientation, suicide, tobacco or violence. To use Policy 3, you should configure the DNS settings of your home router or Web-enabled device to use the following Norton DNS IP addresses: 198.153.192.60 and 198.153.194.60.

There is also an option to download a setup app that will set the router’s DNS settings for you.

By Steve_long on 13 Oct 2011

@ ljaclark

I don't think you've been looking hard enough. I can recommend some good sites if you like :-/

By JonSkilling on 14 Oct 2011

Just use OpenDNS, solves all problems

By AdnetLtd on 14 Oct 2011

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