updated 10:38 am EST, Thu December 19, 2013
Fails to block all adult sites, blocks public health resources
Adult content filters rolling out on the major Internet service providers (ISPs) in the United Kingdom are found to be a mix of ineffectual and over-effective, according to a report. The new filters, pushed for by Prime Minister David Cameron, are seemingly blocking access to useful health-related sites, while at the same time failing to block pornographic material.
An investigation by the BBC reveals that TalkTalk's filtering system, operated by Huawei, failed to block 7 percent of the 68 pornographic sites in a test, and though Sky's filtering successfully blocked 99 percent of the adult sites, it also blocked six sites for helping with porn addiction. BT's filter, launched earlier this week, blocked sites for sexual health and helping victims of domestic abuse.
A TalkTalk spokesperson advised that there is "no silver bullet" for Internet safety, and that it is continuing to develop its HomeSafe filtering system. Both Sky and BT pointed towards the customization options in their systems, allowing subscribers to adjust site whitelists and what kinds of content get filtered.
BT's content filtering sign-up page
In July, Cameron pressured Internet service providers into offering adult content filters to all households, with providers to set the filters on by default on new accounts, and to remove them at the account holder's request. The existing 19 million connections will be contacted by ISPs and given an "unavoidable decision." Carriers in the country have already operated adult content filtering on accounts for a number of years, with subscribers able to request their removal by contacting their provider.
At the same time, Cameron ordered technology companies to work on protecting children by blocking extreme pornography and child abuse images, with the added threat of potential legislative action if voluntary efforts are unsatisfactory. Google and Microsoft revealed their efforts last month, including new tools and search filters, though the legislative threat from Cameron remained.