UK ISPs tighten grip on porn controls

BT, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Sky are set to actively manage the way users access porn on the Internet, following a campaign by Mothers’ Union.

The drive, backed by the UK Prime Minster David Cameron, will see ISP customers in the UK getting greater controls to manage how they access sexually explicit websites on their phones, tablets and computers at home. 

The new guidelines will not be a forced "opt-in" policy as reported by the Guardian on Tuesday, with all four Internet Service Providers working together to create a better way of managing content on the web 

Virgin Media has told Pocket-lint that people will have an active choice over what content they block. 

"Users will be able to manage what categories they block or if they want to block a specific website," a spokeswomen for the company told Pocket-lint. 

Those categories aren't just based around whether it is straight, fetish, or lesbian porn, for example, but categories involving a wide variety of subjects that could be contentious, like gambling, 

"Like all ISPs, Virgin Media is committed to protecting our customers and their families online and, alongside BT, Sky and TalkTalk, we have developed a code of practice to encourage an active choice about parental controls. When people join Virgin Media we will proactively communicate details around parental controls, enabling customers to make well-informed choices about the technical and behavioural steps they can take to protect their families online. The code of practice has been developed in consultation with parents’ groups and children’s charities," the spokeswomen added.

BT added:

“BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media are pleased to have developed and agreed a code of practice, including measures to ensure that customers are provided with an active choice as to whether to activate parental controls in the home.

“The four internet service providers have worked closely with Government and a range of stakeholders to swiftly introduce measures which address the recommendations set out in the Bailey Report. 

“The ISPs have committed to improve the way we communicate to customers enabling parents to make simple and well-informed choices about installing and activating parental controls and other measures to protect their children online.

“The four ISPs are working with parents’ groups and children’s charities on this important initiative and will continue to do so.”

The news comes as UK media regulators announced they were joining forces to launch ParentPort, a new website aimed at helping parents make their views heard on issues relating to inappropriate programmes, adverts, products and services. 

The site is designed to allow parents to easily complain about material they have seen or heard across the media, communications and retail industries.

The website has been jointly developed by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the Authority for Television On Demand (ATVOD), the BBC Trust, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and the Video Standards Council (VSC)/Pan-European Game Information (PEGI).

It has been created in response to Reg Bailey’s Independent Review of the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood published in June, which recommended that regulators should work together to create a single website to act as an interface between themselves and parents.

ParentPort provides straightforward information on what parents can do if they feel they have seen or heard something inappropriate for their children. The site makes the process of making a complaint easier by directing parents to the right regulator for their specific area of concern.

The website also provides a "Have Your Say" section, which allows parents to provide informal feedback and comments which regulators will use as an extra gauge of parental views. There’s also advice on how to keep children safe online and what parents can do about other products like clothing and the display of magazines in shops.

It is hoped the combination of the two will hopefully make surfing online a lot safer.