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UK parents prefer ‘active choice’ filtering on the internet

7th September 2012 Print

Most UK adults with children in the household reject automatic blocking of internet content according to data from TalkTalk, instead preferring to be asked to choose whether or not they want to block harmful content on the internet.
When asked what system they thought should be implemented to protect children from accessing inappropriate content:

37% of UK adults with children in the household think that active choice – where customers are asked when they sign up to broadband if they want their internet to be filtered or not – is the system that should be applied as standard to best protect children online.

A further 30% said their internet service should only be filtered if they ask for it.

Just 22% thought that default filtering of harmful content, such as pornography, is the best system, where the internet is filtered unless they ask for it not to be. That means that close to 80% of parents surveyed rejected default filtering.
This is supported by TalkTalk’s own customer research that found that around 80% of customers who had been through the active choice process thought that being prompted to set up controls was a good thing.
The announcement coincides with the end of the Government consultation into parental internet controls. Active choice was one of the key recommendations of the Government’s Bailey Review into the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Children and Young People.
TalkTalk became the first – and so far only ISP – to introduce active choice for all new customers in March of this year. New customers who sign up for broadband are asked upfront if they wish to turn on HomeSafe, the UK’s only network-level parental controls service, to help them control access to the type of content their children can access online.
Since TalkTalk introduced active choice, around 1 in 3 new customers are choosing to activate parental controls, which is roughly equivalent to the number of UK households with dependent children in them. Around 80% of customers surveyed who were asked to make an active choice thought being prompted to set up controls was a good thing and 60% of those who set up parental controls said they wouldn’t have done so if they hadn’t been prompted. TalkTalk has now committed to exploring ways of rolling out active choice to existing customers.
Because HomeSafe is built into the broadband network itself every computer or device using the home internet connection is protected – be it laptops, PCs or gaming devices. HomeSafe allow customers to block access to a range of content, including pornography, gambling and violence. So far more than half a million customers have activated HomeSafe and websites promoting suicide and self-harm are the most likely to be blocked.
Dido Harding, Chief Executive of TalkTalk, said: “We firmly believe that internet safety is the road safety of our children’s generation. Road safety required all of us to play our part; teaching the Green Cross Code, using seat belts, fitting car seats and so on. Internet safety requires the same approach, where tools like HomeSafe are one very important part of the overall approach, along with better education and information for families. We believe that giving customers an active choice about using controls like HomeSafe is the most effective way to engage them in internet safety and our research shows that our customers feel the same.”