By: MarkJ - 4 February, 2011 (9:48 AM)
bt retail ukUK ISP BT has announced that it plans to launch new internet safety advice in March 2011 for parents. The provider will also offer its FREE Family Protection (McAfee) parental-control software as part of an automatic install process for new broadband customers. A major new campaign will be used to highlight the service.

The service is typically included FREE with all BT Total Broadband packages and is part of a wider online security offering, which includes Firewall and Anti-Virus protection. Meanwhile the new advice will supply child internet safety booklets to tens of thousands of new customers. The new booklet will also be available to existing customers upon request.

Jon Brown, Head of Strategy and Development at NSPCC, said:

"The internet has huge educational and social benefits. Children are often expected to research their homework online, as well as entertain themselves and socialise. However, the risks to their privacy and safety are very real. The NSPCC recommends filtering software and we welcome BT’s investment in providing advice and simplifying the way in which parents can control how their children use the internet."

According to BT, its Family Protection software would normally cost £120 to buy separately. The software itself can block entire programs or inappropriate websites, either by age, category or by blocking an individual site. Time limits can also be set and parents can even get instant alerts if their child attempts to access a blocked site or even "post personal information".

The move comes at a time when the UK government is busy pushing broadband ISPs to adopt an automatic universal block of internet porn sites (here), which is despite the wide-spread availability of alternative control software and DNS filtering solutions. However BT believes that network-based parental controls "can’t match the functionality offered by PC-based ... software".

Still, while client-side software is often more effective, most IT savvy children can usually find ways around such restrictions.

UPDATE 12:52pm

The UK governments Culture Minister, Ed Vaizey, is expected to meet with ISPs on Monday to discuss the issue of mandatory internet filtering. Between that and Safer Internet Day, it's probably no surprise that BT are getting this announcement out ahead of both.
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