The four largest Internet service providers in the UK will soon allow customers to block all pornography, or to purposefully choose to see the sexually explicit material, reports the Guardian. The controversial move is part of the government’s attempts to cut down on Internet pornography.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron will announce the new guidelines during meetings with the Mother’s Union, which has launched a mission earlier this year, laid out in a proposal known as the “Bailey report,” which aims to protect children from graphic adult images and video online. The prime minister is also expected to unveil a list of other actions proposed by Mother’s Union, which is a Christian charity organization.
The ISPs involved are BT, TalkTalk, Virgin and Sky.
While it was initially reported that the ‘porn filter’ would automatically apply to all 17.6 million UK broadband customers served by the four ISPs unless users explicitly chose to allow through pornography, the companies quickly refuted that claims.
“This is called ‘active choice’ rather than an opt-in or opt-out,” a spokesperson for TalkTalk told the Guardian. Another source at a different ISP said that the filter will not be turned on by default, and only new customers will have to decide one way or another.
Because relatively few new customers sign up for Internet service through these four ISPs, the pornography filter will only affect a small number of customers.
To lay out more clearly the intentions of the optional censorship, the four ISPs issued a joint statement, which reads:
“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 addressing recommendations set out in the Bailey report.
“The ISPs have committed to improve the way they communicate to customers, enabling parents to make simple and well-informed choices about installing and activating parental controls and other measures to protect children online. The four ISPs are working with parents’ groups and children’s charities on this important initiative and will continue to do so.”
In addition to the creation of the optional ‘porn filter,’ a new website, ParentPort, will allow users to complain about television programming, advertisements and products for children that they deem inappropriate.
The Bailey report, named after the organization’s chief executive, Reg Bailey, also asked the government to prevent retailers from selling “sexy” clothing for children.