UK porn filter shunned by Brits


Most Brits have opted-out of using their ISPs internet filter due to uncertainty around its effectiveness and concern about their internet access being restricted, while 49% have encountered a seemingly legitimate site being blocked, according to new research.

Research carried out by the independent broadband and TV switching site Broadband Genie comes as earlier this year two of the major broadband providers, Sky and TalkTalk, changed their internet filters so that users are required to opt-out in order to avoid the blocks to adult websites.

The remaining two providers, BT and Virgin Media, are coming under pressure to follow suit with the content blocks.

The effectiveness of web content filters deployed by broadband providers following government pressure has been brought into question in a new poll which shows a significant number of broadband subscribers don’t use them, and many of those who do encounter problems with sites being incorrectly blocked.

• 41% think ISPs shouldn’t block pornographic websites by default

• 54% have opted out of using the content filters, with the risk of internet access being hindered a popular reason cited (40%) for not activating them

• 46% are unsure if the filter is effective, whilst 31% thought the filter was somewhat effective and may be useful for some people

• Of those using the filters, 49% encountered a legitimate site being blocked

• 27% think the authorities are maintaining a secret list of broadband users who have opted out of the filtering system

Those who have opted out said they were concerned about censorship (15%), worried about the privacy and security implications (7%) or did not trust that the filter would be accurate (7%), while 11% already used some form of filter software. The poll also revealed that 14% perceive the filters to be totally useless or mostly ineffective.

Rob Hilborn, head of strategy at Broadband Genie, says: “At a time when more legislation is being proposed to monitor and control online activity, the British public seem reluctant to relinquish their right to freely browse the web by activating David Cameron’s internet filter, especially when there’s such uncertainty around its effectiveness.

The survey also found that 27% thought they were being put on a secret list by the authorities as a result of opting-out of the filtering system.

“It’s worrying such a large number of people think there’s a secret list somewhere of users who have opted-out of the filter. It shows the public have a serious level of distrust towards the authorities at the moment, and given the revelations over the last few years about the extent of government surveillance it is sadly not an unwarranted fear.”

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