UK ISP providers get tough on adult content

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Online gambling and sports betting operators are set to be affected by the introduction of adult content filters imposed by internet service providers (ISP) which will block access to content deemed adult material.

Two of the UK’s four leading ISP providers Sky Broadband (BSkyB Group) and TalkTalk announced that they would roll out automatic adult filters. Customers of the service provides would have to specifically request for the filters to be turned off.

Sky Broadband (UK coverage + 5 million customers) are set to release their Sky Broadband Shield filter within ten days. TalkTalk (UK coverage 4.2 million) have followed suit by announcing that its HomeSafe filter would be introduced by February 2015.

The remaining two major providers BT and Virgin Media, are coming under pressure to apply content filters to adult material.

The viewer protection scheme has been supported by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who expressed that online viewer habits needed to be better protected, particularly with regards to young people and family viewership.

Media and business campaigners have voiced concerns regarding the imposed ISP provider’s actions, stating that the filters would block traffic to vital consumer information regarding broad adult subject matters such as sex, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, tobacco, anorexia and health issues.

UK civil liberties campaigners Open Rights Group found that 54 registered charities websites had been blocked by ISP managed filters for discussing adult subject matter. The group stated that at present the filters were too blunt in their profiling and blocking of website content, which made them inefficient for UK traffic.

In July 2014 UK media monitor Ofcom reported that 13% of internet users opted to turn filtering software offered to them by ISP providers.