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Majority of UK web users haven't turned on ISP's internet porn filters

No porn filters please, we're British
Wed Jul 23 2014, 15:52
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UK TELECOMS WATCHDOG Ofcom has reported that despite significant promotion and encouraging messages, people in the UK have adopted a hands-off approach to internet adult content filters.

Online filters are the source of much controversy, not least of all because they do not work very well. We reported last year that websites that offer advice on health and sexual health have fallen foul of misfiring pornography filters and are being denied the audiences that they deserve.

This is still a problem, and this week the UK Open Rights Group (ORG) launched a campaign against blunt, ham-fisted internet filter systems that cause more problems than they solve.

The campaign, called "Department of Dirty" parodies the prudish approach to content, and challenges the perception that the internet is a pit of filth.

The message from the ORG in December was the same as it is now, "filtering is useless".

"The implication is that filtering is good, or at least harmless, for anyone, whether adult or child," it said.

"Of course, this is not true; there's not just the question of false positives for web users, but the effect on a network economy of excluding a proportion of a legitimate website's audience."

It is now around a year later and Ofcom has found that, perhaps fortunately, not many people are actually adopting the ISP network filters.

While the most of the big ISP firms - including Sky, BT and Talktalk - offer all of their customers the option, Virgin Media acknowledged that the step is often skipped by its engineer installers. It estimates that punters are informed of the option about one in three times.

This lack of reminders does not seem to have hampered takeup at Virgin Media, as the firm has about as much adoption of its family filter as the competition.

Only Talktalk has numbers worth talking about, and it said that 36 percent of its subscribers have adopted a patchwork internet. At the other firms the percentage is under the 10 percent mark. Virgin Media has four percent, BT five percent, and Sky eight percent.

While most of the firms installed filters in 2013, while Virgin Media only added its this Spring. Talktalk, which pre-ticks the "filter me" option for new subscribers, indicated that this has driven up adoption.

Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group commented on the findings, saying, "Yesterday’s Ofcom report shows that the majority of customers are not switching filters on. This is probably because they realise that filters will impact upon their internet use by blocking much more than they are supposed to. 

"By measuring ‘success' as the number of people who use filters, Ofcom are suggesting that filters are the 'correct' choice for parents. This is unreasonable and continues to promote filters, rather than choice and education." µ

 

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