Most UK web users 'opt in to see porn'

24/07/2014

The vast majority of new broadband customers in the UK are opting out of porn filters when prompted to install them by service providers, according to new research from Ofcom.

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The study found that only 4% of new Virgin Media customers have signed up to the parental controls, alongside 5% of BT and 8% of Sky newcomers.

Surprisingly, 36%of Talk Talk customers opted for the filters, having offered parental filtering services since May 2011, two years prior to the government initiative.

The vast majority of broadband customers are choosing not to opt in to porn filters that prevent access to adult content, despite Prime Minister David Cameron's insistence they are vital to protect "our children and their innocence".

The figures represent new customers opting in to the filters at the time of account activation, and don't take into account customers who may activate the controls at a later date.

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the new measures to protect children from accessing online pornography and other potentially harmful content in July 2013.

While BT and Sky launched filter services towards the end of 2013, TalkTalk's HomeSafe option has been in place since May 2011.

Virgin Media launched its filter, Web Safe, in February 2014, past the deadline set by the UK government.

The report also found that around 65% of new Virgin Media customers were not being offered the choice of family-friendly network level filtering, "primarily as a result of actions taken by installation engineers".

"The majority of new Virgin Media installations involve an engineer visit. Virgin Media believes that in many cases the engineer runs the broadband activation process and bypasses or ignores the filtering choice," Ofcom said.

"It has recognised that this is a failure in process and indicated it is taking steps to address this gap."

Tom Mockridge, Virgin Media's chief executive, said: "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."

Almost one in five websites are being blocked due to filtering systems, according to checker tool Blocked.

Around 42 per cent of UK households with children already had implemented broadband filters, previous Ofcom research had found.

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