July 23rd 2014
The parental filters being offered to new broadband customers in the UK by service providers are being rejected, according to industry watchdog Ofcom. Fewer than one in seven households are installing the feature – offered by Sky, BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk and implemented at the request of the government – with the others choosing to opt out.
A year ago David Cameron announced that the major ISPs had agreed to offer the internet-level filters, which parents would have to actively opt out of rather than opt into. They are designed to protect children from pornography and other adult content such as drug taking and self-harm.
All four main ISPs offer a filter at the point of sign-up for new subscribers. The percentage taking up the option are:
– TalkTalk: 36%
– Sky: 8%
– BT: 5%
– Virgin Media: 4%
All new subscribersto the ISPs were offered the default option, with the exception of those to Virgin Media, which offered it to only 35% of customers because, the company says, its installers often neglected to mention it. Ofcom also noted that Virgin's Web Safe filter was launched only in February 2014, beyond the government deadline.
Virgin Media Chief Executive Tom Mockridge told the BBC: "Ofcom's report clearly highlighted where Virgin Media has fallen short in meeting our original commitments. We take our responsibility to help families stay safe online very seriously and have taken immediate action to improve how we meet our commitments to government."