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UPDATE Sky Broadband UK to Launch Network Level Adult Website Filter

Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013 (12:56 pm) - Score 3,865

Sky Broadband (BSkyB) has today confirmed that it plans to follow TalkTalk’s sometimes controversial HomeSafe solution by launching its own “whole-home” automatic network level filtering (censorship) service in the UK, which would block access to websites that contain adult content.

Details about the new service, which is expected to be rolled out “later on this year“, are still hard to come by. In particular we don’t yet know whether Sky will adopt the highly controversial “default-on” approach that could potentially result in overzealous censorship being applied (unless you specifically select to opt-out) to everything from sites like the BBC.com, ISPreview.co.uk, newspapers or online shopping to porn (the definition of “adult” that some ISPs have can be quite loopy).

Lyssa McGowan, Sky’s Brand Director (Communications), said:

So while computer-based parental controls are important tools for parents, on their own they are not sufficient in protecting kids who are accessing the net through a growing range of devices such as games consoles, tablets and smartphones.

That’s why we’ve been investigating ways to help provide a ‘whole-home’ solution in which web content can be filtered out not by a particular device, but at a household-level so that parents can define the type of access they want blocked and the filtering will apply across all connected devices in the home.

And I’m delighted to be able to confirm that Sky has committed to offering a whole-home solution to all of our more than 4 million broadband customers. We will also introduce reporting tools to parents so they will know each and every time any changes have been made to the settings they’ve applied, to ensure they are happy with the settings at all times. We will roll out this technology later on this year. This is a significant step and one which will give parents even more power to keep their kids safe online.”

It’s worth pointing out that Sky already presents new customers with an automatic – or “Active Choice” – to install parental controls when they first access the internet through their Sky Broadband connection (they also pre-tick the ‘yes’ button so that setting up parental controls becomes the default option and is “only avoidable if a customer actively chose not to use them“).

Sky also claims to be the first public WiFi provider (The Cloud) to filter out access to adult websites as standard across over 16,000 of their WiFi zones (Hotspots). In addition the ISP states that it will put more effort into educating customers.

We hope to have more details on the new filtering service soon.

UPDATE 2:20pm

Sky has kindly responded to clarify that parents will be given an “active choice about whether or not to turn filters on” with the new service. If they choose to enable the solution then the parent will need to define what categories they want to include and these categories will “only relate to material inappropriate to children” (i.e. Sky was keen to stress that its filters would not hit news websites like ours or the BBC).

Sadly Sky added that they didn’t wish to disclose any details about the specific technology they plan to deploy, though it will probably be easy to identify once the system goes live.

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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