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UPDATE Half of FREE WiFi Wireless Internet Hotspots in the UK Allow Porn

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013 (1:08 pm) - Score 1,379

A new survey from mobile security firm AdaptiveMobile has boldly claimed that 51% of free wireless internet (WiFi) hotspots in the United Kingdom allow access to content of an adult nature, which is despite the study being based off a tiny sample size.

The study, which was carried out during September 2013 across just 179 locations in Birmingham, Manchester and London, employed mystery shoppers to visit various locations and test out their filters. It reveals that 30% of UK cafés and restaurants have no filtering in place to prevent children accessing porn, although hotels were far worse (74%).

Meanwhile 20% of eating places allowed online sex dating sites, while 53% didn’t block online stores selling knives or swords and 80% granted full access to drug-related content (e.g. fan pages for cocaine).

Graeme Coffey, VP of AdaptiveMobile’s Business Development, said:

For every parent across the UK this report will come as an unwelcome surprise. In the last two years there have been two convergent trends: a big increase in public Wi-Fi or “hospitality Wi-Fi” and greater access to smartphones, gaming consoles and tablets with a Wi-Fi capability, the kind of device a child could have.

Most people will instinctively block adult content when it comes to filtering, but what these results show is that we should also be looking at content related to drugs and violence which are just as harmful but frequently overlooked.

Cafés, restaurants, hotels and administrators of public spaces should talk to their ISP and other bodies to understand the most appropriate filtering methods for their premises.”

It goes without saying that AdaptiveMobile has a vested interest in this field and are no doubt being mindful of the Government’s on-going attempt to ban adult content from public Wi-Fi services (here) and fixed line broadband ISPs.

The Government might at least be pleased to learn that public property and spaces, such as train stations, have some of the strongest filtering. Overall 91% of government sites restricted access to pornography, although one in three sites granted full access to online weapons stores.

UPDATE 4:31pm

Here’s a comment from Sky Broadband / BSkyB.

A Sky Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

The Cloud automatically filters adult content at hotspots in public places, protecting children from inappropriate material when they’re online at one of our hotspots. This is something we are proud to have led the way on. We believe that parents want peace of mind that their children cannot inadvertently access adult material when out of home. That’s why we were the first WiFi provider to apply content filters as default across our entire network.”

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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