Porn blocking: what the big four ISPs are actually doing

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Find out how Britain's big four ISPs plan to implement adult content blocks

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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