As expected BT has today become the latest major UK home broadband ISP to launch FREE Parental Controls that include the Government demanded network-level filtering technology, which puts the Internet provider in charge of blocking access to adult websites; but only if you agree not to disable it.
The move, which allows parents to enable blocking of adult websites at the network level (i.e. it applies to any computers or devices that connect to your home broadband service), follows identical developments by nearly all of the markets other major broadband providers.
At present only new customers will be given an “enforced” option to keep or disable the service, which will come pre-selected (enabled) unless you specifically choose otherwise during the sign-up process. The filter can also be turned off at specific times like a “watershed” style service.
Customers that opt to keep the service enabled will then be presented with a choice of three set filter levels – strict, moderate and light – which can apparently be customised to suit “each individual family’s needs” and additional websites can also be added to the block list. Each filter level blocks a different set of categories, although apparently dating is too harmful even for the “light” setting.
Pete Oliver, BT’s MD of Consumer Commercial Marketing, said:
“BT takes the issue of online child protection extremely seriously and we are very pleased to be able to launch the whole-home filter to help parents keep their families safe online. It adds to the many tools we already make available for free to our customers. We’ve been focused on the issue of online safety since we developed the world’s first Cleanfeed filter to block child abuse images and made the technology available free to other ISPs across the world a decade ago.”
It’s important to stress that filtering like this is by no means perfect and often results in perfectly safe websites being censored due to errors or incorrect categorisation, which once applied is usually very difficult to get removed. Similarly children aren’t stupid and even very young kids will often have no trouble finding their way around such skin deep restrictions. Effective parenting should never be relaxed in favour of checking a box.
Meanwhile existing BT customers can expected to be given a choice about whether or not to enable the filters during 2014.
The following table offers a breakdown of the different filters (sorry if it’s not very clear but this is what BT sent).