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TalkTalk UK and YouGov Study Finds 78% Reject Default Internet Censorship

Thursday, September 6th, 2012 (1:03 am) - Score 1,189

Broadband ISP TalkTalk has today published the results of its latest YouGov research, which asked 2,010 online UK adults which system would be best for helping to protect children from accessing adult content on the internet. Overall 78% rejected the idea of default filtering, which would be automatically enabled on all internet accounts.

Instead 37% of UK adults with children in the household preferred the currently adopted method of Active Choice, which gives subscribers (e.g. parents) an “enforced” option to block adult web content at the point of purchase; this method currently has the support of BT, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband and a few other ISPs (here).

Meanwhile a further 30% said that their internet service should only be “filtered” if they specifically ask for it. The news is important because the UK governments Department for Education (DfE) is currently conducting a consultation (here) that aims to decide whether or not internet users should face default censorship of their connections.

Dido Harding, CEO of TalkTalk, said:

We firmly believe that internet safety is the road safety of our children’s generation. Road safety required all of us to play our part; teaching the Green Cross Code, using seat belts, fitting car seats and so on. Internet safety requires the same approach, where tools like HomeSafe are one very important part of the overall approach, along with better education and information for families.

We believe that giving customers an active choice about using controls like HomeSafe is the most effective way to engage them in internet safety and our research shows that our customers feel the same.

TalkTalk has until recently been a staunch advocate of current government policy (Active Choice) but now appears to oppose calls for tougher restrictions. Still the ISP notes that it’s one of the few providers to have fully introduced a true Active Choice system, with many of their rivals preferring to merely offer customers the option of being able to download Parental Control software.

Meanwhile opponents of internet filtering systems are quick to remind that such services often end up blocking access to the wrong websites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, clothing stores, education/health sites etc.) and are incredibly easy to circumvent. Not to mention that free alternatives have been widely available outside of ISPs for many years (e.g. many routers and even anti-virus software come with parental control systems).

Separately a somewhat right-wing petition with 110,000 signatures, which is supported by religious groups and Conservative MP Claire Perry (outspoken advocated of default filtering), has been submitted to the government that unsurprisingly calls for the implementation of a mandatory opt-in system (i.e. internet censorship is enabled by default).

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