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Survey Finds UK Internet Users Oppose Mandatory ISP Adult Site Blocks

Monday, May 21st, 2012 (8:33 am) - Score 482

The results from 728 respondents to our latest monthly survey has revealed that the majority (83.9%) are against proposals designed to force home broadband ISPs into imposing mandatory adult website blocks by default. The introduction of such a system, which could be applied to all internet accounts in the UK, was recommended by the recent Parliamentary Inquiry into Online Child Protection (Claire Perry MP).

Most of the biggest ISPs already offer Parental Control solutions and there are also plenty of third-party solutions available, with many being made available for free (e.g. MS Windows Live Family Safety, OpenDNS.org’s network level filtering etc.). In fact there’s no shortage of options for anxious parents.

Similarly nearly all of the biggest domestic ISPs have, since last year’s agreement with the government, started to adopt an Active Choice System that provides customers (e.g. parents) with an “enforcedoption to block adult web content at the point of purchase.

Have ISPs done enough to protect children online?
Yes – 55.2%
No – 22.8%
Not sure – 21.9%

Should ISPs impose mandatory adult website blocks by default?
No – 83.9%
Yes – 16%

Should ISPs offer optional parental control software/systems?
Yes – 74%
No – 25.9%

It’s encouraging to see ISPs offer more options to filter out adult content and we’d like to see that continue, yet at the same time we should be careful not to impose mandatory internet filters, which risk lulling parents into a false sense of security and encouraging state sponsored censorship through mission creep.

Parents must be given more trust to act on their own initiative. Sadly some MPs are already proposing stiffer measures, before the ‘Active Choice’ solution has even been given chance to work, which only adds to the ever growing burden of new legislation that ISPs are being asked to shoulder.

We must never forget that website blocking measures are also easy to circumvent (children often know the best methods), can restrict legitimate sites (clothing retailers, sex education/medical content etc.) and cost huge amounts of money to develop. BT is alleged to have spent around £500k developing its similar Cleanfeed solution and that’s enough to put smaller ISPs out of business. It would be better to focus on education and awareness, as well as boosting the availability of ‘Active Choice’ via self-regulation.

This month’s new survey asks whether the UK government are right to extend the current internet data interception powers to include our private Facebook, Skype and online video gaming activity etc.? Vote Here.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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