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UPDATE UK ISP BT Launch Parental Controls with Network Level Filtering

Posted Friday, December 13th, 2013 (1:22 pm) by Mark Jackson (Score 2,685)

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 levelsstrict, 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.

UPDATE 4:32pm

The following table offers a breakdown of the different filters (sorry if it’s not very clear but this is what BT sent).


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22 Responses
  1. DanielM

    Good excuse to leave BT for customers. Censorship and being spied on is never good. ISPs nor politicians should not be monitoring or controlling what people access.

    • Phil

      I expecting other isp’s to follow shortly after Sky & BT do this now. I reckon Plusnet will do the same.

    • JDQuench

      It’s no BT censoring the webpages. It’s an option for customers to manually censor their service to suit the users at home.

      Don’t worry no one is out to get you. You can take your tin foil helmet off now.

  2. CrazyLazy

    “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.”

    So hold on a minute, does that mean even if you choose to be able to filter content and you have controls as to what catagory of content is filtered then even if you shifted the filter to its “light” setting you still would not be able to access something as harmless as a dating website?

    Oh i can see problems galore and ranting galore come 2014 in BTs forums about this.

    This is pure censorship and nothing more if there is no option for you to fully enable or disable things as and when you see fit.

  3. Darren

    Is there an off button?

    If answer = No.. Where is my MAC?

    Other issues aside, automatic censorship is not the way to educate people about how to protect their loved ones online.

    For a start it luls you into a false sense of security that once these filter are in place your loved ones are completely protected. Their not because 1) Filters cannot catch everything 2) There are easy ways around the filters.

    Then there’s false possitives, how long before people get tired of not being able to access wrongly blocked sites and just disable the filter becasue it’s to much of an inconvenience.

    This backward move is so incredibly wrong on so many levels it makes me think those in charge are not fit to run a small business, let alone the whole country. In reality they know exactly what they are doing and couldn’t give a stuff about us.

  4. Phil

    I never favour in any isp’s to bring in Filter as it will never benefits to many customers and the government idea will never gonna to work. I be very surprise within next few years time, a flooding complaints to ofcom about filter ruining their broadband everydays and there should be option IN or OFF for customers to turn off otherwise very bad move.

    • FibreFred

      You already can turn it off?

    • DanielM

      you carn’t turn it off though. it will always be on. your traffic will always be spied on. its just it wont block everything.

      quite frankly the excuse about protecting children is stupid. That’s a parents job. not an ISP and if they are too stupid to understand it they should get training.

    • Ignitionnet

      Your traffic is already spied on, wholesale, whether or not things like this exist. Has been for a long time.

      If you are ever fortunate enough to work for an ISP and are of a high enough level to be able to access the DPI kit what you can see via it would give you more than a moment of pause.

  5. FibreFred

    I wonder how many ISP’s the so called government will impose this on. The smaller ISP’s may be rubbing their hands with glee.

    “Non-restricted browsing, no filters, sign up here” :)

  6. Bob2002

    I’m probably missing something but since when has jewellery been a threat to society? Is QVC a wretched hive of scum and villainy?

  7. DanielM

    I wonder if the daily mail will get blocked….

    or that sick and vile propaganda paper aka the sun.

  8. Tonny

    Just wonder how do they block HTTPS content? Anyway I do not care, just got VPN from Seed4.Me

  9. Chris C

    So adult porn filtering is enforced (along with gambling) however this has things like “obscene and tasteless” is this enforced or just BT doign what they feel enhancing the service?

    Tasteless is a matter of opinion and also is the fact on this someone cant eg, only filter porn , the low setting includes multiple categories.

  10. dragoneast

    Those who can’t think for themselves get lumbered with it, for good or ill; those who can think for themselves can work it out for themselves, for good or ill. Governments are always incompetent. What’s the problem?

  11. cyclope

    Surely this censorship via the backdoor (camerloons porn filter) if the customer isn’t given the choice to completely disable it , then it should be seen as a change in the terms of contract to the detriment of the customer,(BT only providing a limited access intenet connection) and the customer has agreed to a full access internet service at time of sign up (excluding what is already filtered via IWF) this should alow customers who do not whant this bullcrap filtering to be released from any remaining contract penalty free

    And that’s exactlty what i would be pressing for if the isp who im with ever implements the same crap, the customer should always have the choice not the isp and never the government

  12. cyclope

    Also they BT SKY and any ISP who implements a filter without giving the customer choice to disable it completely should they wish, should have to advertise their products as limited access broadband ect, or they will fall foul of asa, given the fact that until recently the internet has been virtually uncensored /blocked broken

  13. dragoneast

    If, as I suspect, the internet makes children of us all, perhaps it’s hardly surprising that we all get treated like children.

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