Broadband providers criticise opt-in online porn

Online Safety Bill proposes people who wish to view adult content on the internet should have to prove to their broadband provider they are over 18 first by default.

Broadband providers have criticised the government's latest attempt to block access to adult content online.

Under the Online Safety Bill currently progressing through Parliament, the Bill would place a duty on broadband providers and mobile network operators to "provide a service that excludes pornographic images" by default.

If enacted, broadband providers would be required to prevent customers accessing pornographic images unless those customers actively notify their provider that they wish to access such material.

Last year the government rejected an automatic block on internet porn. In a rare instance of the public agreeing with its government, a consultation showed 65% of people who took part were also not in favour of such a move.

The four biggest broadband providers in the UK - BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media - collectively comprise 88% of British internet users and are all signed up to a code of practice on controlling access to adult content.

Rather than block access to adult content and force users opt in, the big four have agreed to increase awareness of parental controls and give customers a choice on whether or not to use them.

Andrew Kernahan from the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) said providers were making users aware of filters available to them. He added that informing millions of customers of these filters was "not a small undertaking".

A report from the Department for Education on the Bailey Review - Letting Children be Children - praised the progress made by broadband providers in offering and promoting parental controls.The report added that providers had "gone further still," committing to provide whole-home filtering solutions to protect all connected devices in the home and will make setting up internet controls an unavoidable step for parents.

When it comes to ensuring public Wi-Fi is family-friendly, although the report says "good progress" has been made, it wants to see a firmer commitment from Wi-Fi providers and the retail and hospitality sectors that online pornography will not be accessible in public places frequented by children.

Guide: Protecting children online "> Guide: Protecting children online

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