UK ISP BT Broadband to block porn for new customers by default

Earlier this summer, we reported on big changes on the way for British web users. Following extensive campaigning by special interest groups over the last few years, supported by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, internet service providers (ISPs) have found themselves backed into a corner, being called upon to voluntarily block access to adult content by default, or face new legislation that will force them to do so. 

ISPs are slowly starting to implement the new policies, which will require account holders to opt out of the content block if they wish to view 'adult content'. One of the UK's largest ISPs, BT Broadband, has now revealed the details of its policies, which will first affect new customers signing up for its services. 

When new customers first connect to the web, they will be given the choice of whether to leave the block enabled. The block is pre-selected and enabled by default, so any user who does not opt out at that stage will see the range of content that they can access - on any PC, notebook, tablet or smartphone that connects via their home broadband - severely limited. 

There are three levels of protection - Strict, Moderate and Light - and each level can be customised, including the option to automatically enable or disable each level at different times of the day. Each time the settings are changed, an email is sent to the account holder to alert them of the alterations made. 

As the company itself acknowledges in its press release, BT has "offered free parental controls to its customers for years". But the new measures go further by effectively forcing parents - and, indeed, those without children - to take note of their existence and put them to use if needed, or to make the decision to disable them entirely. 

Privacy advocates and web users alike may well baulk at the idea of ISPs keeping records of if and when their customers choose to enable access to adult content. The introduction of such policies also raises the question of whether they will lead to parents becoming more complacent when it comes to protecting their children online, since pornographic images and videos are hardly the only threat to the safety of children on the web.

While the new policies will initially affect only new customers, BT says that it will be contacting all of its existing home broadband customers next year, and requiring them to choose whether or not to enable access to adult content on their connections. 

The move is likely to irritate many Brits, particularly given that a study earlier this year found that porn accounts for more web traffic in the UK than all social networks combined. 

Source: BT

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Digital rights group: Users face choice of "privacy or security on Android, but not both”

Next Story

NeoBytes :) Christmas dinner in a can for the gamer too busy to cook

68 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

My point of view on this.
I am 19 years old still living at home with my mum and dad, our ISP is BT I know for a fact that when my Dad gets that phone call he will most likely will turn it on. my issue is I like watching porn lol, and I don't really want my parents know this, it should be a opt in option not a opt out.

I also feel that it should be done by device not by house hold internet. I am the only one in the house who uses my Computer, and I'm sure single parents would still like to watch porn but at the same time keep their child safe, so by doing it by device you can give your kids a blocked device their for keeping everyone happy.

But I'm sorry if a 15 year old is looking at porn I think it's more because he wants to over than he found it by mistake. and what other filters come in after this one? it's a start down a very dark path.

not to mention this could vastly kill the porn business in the UK theirs a lot of money to be made in porn...
"A study earlier this year found that porn accounts for more web traffic in the UK than all social networks combined."

Just to add to this.
It's not going to be certain websites that are banned it's going to be websites that have keywords on the site like "porn" etc. which will get a lot of legit sites like this one blocked because they a news story on the "ISP Porn block"

Personally speaking, this is a great step forward. I've been using OpenDNS premium and if this system works as well as that then there it is a very good system. Someone used the example of a search for breast cancer being blocked; it doesn't block it. However, searching for "gang bang sluts riding hard ****" will filter results and sites.
Kids are getting more and more f*cked up with easier access to porn - and unfortunately you CAN'T push the onus onto the parents all the time.

I was exposed to porn at a very early age and it basically corrupted my entire life; becoming the focus of it. Even when being married, it was in my life until it got so bad I almost lost everything - i was totally obsessed with it. Thankfully, I am almost 4 years porn free... and I feel so much better. Psychologists are seeing more and more children with porn obsessions.

Yes, I was at the other end of the scale but it is a scale which is becoming more and more common. If you want to opt out of the scheme, do so. Mobile phone companies have opt out schemes too and people who wanted to look at porn had to get their account unblocked - so why not this?

I don't want to be labelled as a "Sex Offender" because I don't want the filter on. As adults we should have to right see what ever content we want to see without censorship, parents should also teach their kids right and wrong.

These filters could block legitimate websites

Censorship and Big Brother is alive and well in the UK. They're catering to the increasing Muslim population in Great Britain. It started with that tool Tony Blair and his government and it just continues on regardless which political party is in. While I don't really care whether people can view porn online or not, but first it was Torrents and now porn and then what's next, maybe they'll become like Germany or Iran where they'll have the Intranet and not the Internet, soon their will be customs regulations for entering any website in another country.

Nazmus Shakib Khandaker said,
I will speak up if and when they try to block something good (such as information or access to knowledge). For now, I support blocking of evil things.

Our definitions of 'evil' are vastly different. What's evil about a completely legal business where consenting adults get paid a fair wage to entertain others?

Nazmus Shakib Khandaker said,
I will speak up if and when they try to block something good (such as information or access to knowledge). For now, I support blocking of evil things.

Ahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha....... Ahahahahanahahahahaha

What is evil remains evil whether or not the people involved are "consenting".

For instance, if one consents to take his own life and another wants to kill someone, they can agree to have one kill another. Everyone is consenting. It doesn't make it right.

Pornography is the same way. It must be stopped.

Nazmus Shakib Khandaker said,
They are both evil. Yes. You can't say that stealing is not evil because murder is a worse evil than stealing. They are both evil. Porn is evil independently of murder.

You're going to have to give us more to go on than "Porn is evil". Why is it 'evil'? It's strictly a matter of opinion, what you really mean is "In my opinion, porn is evil".

No, evil is not a matter of opinion. Lying is evil and it is not an opinion. Port being evil is also not an opinion. It is the truth.

This truth has been embedded into each of our souls by the Almighty Creator of the universe (Allah SWT). In addition to this, the Lord has given us clear instructions to stay away from pornography.

Many thanks for reading this.

Nazmus Shakib Khandaker said,
No, evil is not a matter of opinion. Lying is evil and it is not an opinion. Port being evil is also not an opinion. It is the truth.

This truth has been embedded into each of our souls by the Almighty Creator of the universe (Allah SWT). In addition to this, the Lord has given us clear instructions to stay away from pornography.

Many thanks for reading this.

The Quran also contains 109 verses telling Muslims to kill Non-muslims for Islamic rule, I'm fairly certain you don't follow those verses, if you can't even follow your own beliefs, why try and push them on others?

Hi. I would like to kindly inform you that your assertions about Islam and the Quran are completely incorrect. Islam is a religion of Peace, Love, and worshiping only One God. I invite you to learn about Islam with an open mind and heart, and you will surely see the beauty in it.

However, I must admit that this comment section is not the right place to discuss this because it is out of topic. As part of the Neowin TOS, we should stay on topic in the comments section. As such, I refer you to the PM system for further communication about this topic. I would love to share with you any info you might need, or refer you to the appropriate sources. If you are interested, you can send me a private message.

Best

Nazmus Shakib Khandaker said,
I invite you to learn about Islam with an open mind and heart

Rich coming from the guy telling us how we should run our lives and what we should and shouldn't be doing. Mother nature created sex as a way for all of us to procreate and populate the planet. Mother nature made this act fun, so we'd actually want to do it. Nothing evil about it. I respect other people have other beliefs, don't expect me to respect you if you have no respect for other beliefs. Especially ones backed by... you know... evidence.

Better cheaper solution would be to tell customers there is a block that costs money to maintain. But that you can opt out of it and save some money off you bill.

Maintaining these types of blocks/firewalls does cost money and a few years ago you would have to pay extra for it, Now its all rolled into the price hiking it up for those who don't even wish to use the feature.

Offer a discount is people disable see how many really want this block in place.

He's Dead Jim said,
Who voted for this in the uk? Is the daily whatever really interfering in the democratic process by demanding censorship of the internet

No one has voted for this. And, yes it is.

All i see it as is Government trying to control people more and more.. ok it's just an opt in thing now, but what about in a few years when the 'problem' doesn't go away? and whats next on the big block list? There's no harm in wanting to see a bit of x-rated material, not everyone has a relationship that satisfied those needs, these people shouldn't be made to call up and be embarrassed opting into something they would normally keep private.

I'd probably call up their porn filter support hot line and ask for directions on finding big tits united dot com and complain that they've blocked it. I'd probably also start trying find the most obscure and weird thing to ask them, to see if it's blocked. Pitch Black (Lights out Edition, no less!) Vegetable Robotic Wizard Porn? Or that one where (explained in great detail) where the guy was using a toilet bush on himself.. yeah.......
but we all know that at the end of the day, these porn filters that the ISPs are producing aren't going to block every big of porn, or even anything adult related. Google for example, hosts their own images for google search and will show thumb nails and cached sites even if the actual sites are blocked. The same happens with the torrent site, fortunately google were happen enough to go along with the blocking for the UK with *most* of their cached results, but that's for permanent banned sites. They won't be doing that for account filtering on the ISP end since they won't know who does and doesn't have access to that.. and lets not forget google isn't the only search engine out there.

I'd be more worried about the content that gets posted to Facebook then general search results and other sites my kids stumbled up on. Yet, I bet we don't have google or Facebook blocked by default under the restrictions.

There are plenty of videos on youtube that i'd consider explicit, and a lot of the music videos are definitely not appropriate for kids, yet again they won't get blocked.

All's that'll happen is more and more parents will lump their kids onto the computers/phones and let them get on with it because the government has blocked 'the bad stuff'. Parenting and any responsibility regarding the internet will go out the window.
3-5 years time and the mess that it's created will be blamed on violent video games... again, because they blocked the adult stuff right?
And then, if your kid or you yourself find yourself in a position where you're being questioned by the police, no doubt your 'porn' addition will be brought into question.

What will be interesting is when the 'porn' list of names and addresses are leaked on line, and it will be, when we see high profile household names, teachers, police and even MPs (god knows they've been in the public eye enough with fetishes in the past!).. and what happens then? It's already bad enough with the stigma of porn now, imagine it when in 5 years time viewing porn is 'bad' because its blocked and suddenly a teacher is found to be watching it. Ohh the shame of it, must be a pedo.. right!?

Wow guys, it's an option, it's easily disabled if you feel like it's not necessary. Most parents are quite inept with the internet and would prefer their children not to access such content so turning it on by default is a good idea.

If you feel you or your family don't need that level of filter, then turn it off and manage it yourselves. Simples!

Maybe there are some kids on here that are worried what they might loose access to if their parents switched to BT...

maybe its a filter that is easlily turned on by parents if necessary. why filtering the internet by default? because freedom of speech. not need in the uk obviously

It's not that easy to turn off. And it blocks more than just porn, pretty much all "adult" content. The Tory government are like Nazi's and this will only keep getting worse. More and more censorship.

It's not that easy to turn off. And it blocks more than just porn, pretty much all "adult" content. The Tory government are like Nazi's and this will only keep getting worse. More and more censorship.

- Do you find using the phone complicated?

_Alexander said,
"Hello, I would like to jerk off, please unblock me, thanks"

Or say you don't agree with censorship and want it turned off. Whatever floats your boat.

I don't believe one should be put on a 'list' if they want to look at naughty sites.
rather, it should be the other way around. that way, when one has kids they can turn on filtering.

'+£50 to the first hacker that formats all BT servers and deletes all trances of the source code for the filter from all staff PCs!'
(Joke obviously)

Since most homes have kids, I don't have a problem with this. Are you so horny you can't take half a minute to unblock it? Let's stay civilized.

MorganX said,
Since most homes have kids, I don't have a problem with this. Are you so horny you can't take half a minute to unblock it? Let's stay civilized.

So your version of staying civilised Is blocking everything, I would of thought knowledge and teaching your kids about Life would be more beneficial, I know if I ever have kids I'm going to teach them that sex is not wrong but its something to be honest about, to be respected and done right.

(ive been celibate for 10 years to better understand sex and live)

MorganX said,
Since most homes have kids, I don't have a problem with this. Are you so horny you can't take half a minute to unblock it? Let's stay civilized.

That's a pretty narrow-minded attitude and it ignores the obvious problems that are known to come with porn filters (e.g. children are prevented from searching for legitimate terms such as "breast cancer"). You're also assuming that BT are only blocking porn. As far as I understand it, they're also blocking Iviolent material, extremist related content, anorexia and eating disorder websites, suicide related websites, alcohol, smoking, circumvention apps and esoteric material. A fairly long list to be arbitrarily blocking and it will almost certainly include an enormous list of websites that your ordinary parent would consider educational and appropriate for their children.

I'd also be interested to see the statistics from BT that demonstrate that the majority of the households that use their internet service contain children. If you can only provide statistics for the UK as a whole that will be fine.

It's not "blocked." It's restricted by default, and a responsible adult is then in control of how and to whom it's disseminated to in their home. Block would mean you can never get it on that ISP.

What if a kid google's "scattered" and put's a space after "scat". A kid should never see that "crap," let alone because of a typo.

A kid can't walk into a sex club unrestricted and be exposed to all that, so why on the Internet if we can put controls on it for the parents (adults?) to manage?

I agree with the role of parents, but having a wide open internet takes some of that away from parents. You can teach them all you want about respect and sex and how it's done right. One google search will throw a wrench in all that.

What's wrong with putting the responsibility on the parents?

On the celibacy, that's your choice. And ISPs are giving the parents a choice of wide open pornography in the home or not. They're not taking it away.

jakem1 said,

(e.g. children are prevented from searching for legitimate terms such as "breast cancer").

I'd also be interested to see the statistics from BT that demonstrate that the majority of the households that use their internet service contain children. If you can only provide statistics for the UK as a whole that will be fine.

Come on Jakem. Any "child" researching Breast Cancer on the internet is going to be able to turn off the filter, or maybe read a book, go to the library? Really now.

Anyone researching breast cancer should know how to disable a web filter. As long as the user has the option of turning the filter off, I'm not sure what the problem is.

As for how many children may or may not be protected, how many is enough to justify making the adults in the how turn off the filter? How lazy are people? If you can protect 1 kid from being accidentally exposed to some of the things on the Internet that a child does not need open access to, how lazy do you have to be to object to having to click a few buttons to turn off the filter.

Now, if they are blocking it permanently at the ISP, then you have a censorship issue.

MorganX said,
It's not "blocked." It's restricted by default, and a responsible adult is then in control of how and to whom it's disseminated to in their home. Block would mean you can never get it on that ISP.

What if a kid google's "scattered" and put's a space after "scat". A kid should never see that "crap," let alone because of a typo.

A kid can't walk into a sex club unrestricted and be exposed to all that, so why on the Internet if we can put controls on it for the parents (adults?) to manage?

I agree with the role of parents, but having a wide open internet takes some of that away from parents. You can teach them all you want about respect and sex and how it's done right. One google search will throw a wrench in all that.

What's wrong with putting the responsibility on the parents?

On the celibacy, that's your choice. And ISPs are giving the parents a choice of wide open pornography in the home or not. They're not taking it away.

Is it wrong that I would like my kids to accidentally write scat, so I could laugh my ass of at their reaction? Lol

But I'm on a mind set that mistakes make a better person, just telling someone dont do something won't stop them doing it, but letting them do it and make that mistake will teach them what its about and will open their mind to the consequences of actions.

Ppl are so closed of now a days, sex, love etc is nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about, experience life but don't do it in a way as to hurt others.

MorganX said,
Since most homes have kids, I don't have a problem with this. Are you so horny you can't take half a minute to unblock it? Let's stay civilized.

Well first off anyone who requests that they get porn enabled goes onto a big list of people. I can practically see the list being labelled "Potential Sex Offenders".

I can also imagine in 20 years when someone is going for Prime Minister, "Mr.Smith called up his ISP 10 years ago to get smut enabled in his household Is the labour party really the party you want looking after your children" etc.

McKay said,

Well first off anyone who requests that they get porn enabled goes onto a big list of people. I can practically see the list being labelled "Potential Sex Offenders".

I can see the problem with "that."

mrlcutleruk83 said,

Is it wrong that I would like my kids to accidentally write scat, so I could laugh my ass of at their reaction? Lol

But I'm on a mind set that mistakes make a better person, just telling someone dont do something won't stop them doing it, but letting them do it and make that mistake will teach them what its about and will open their mind to the consequences of actions.

Ppl are so closed of now a days, sex, love etc is nothing to be ashamed of, or embarrassed about, experience life but don't do it in a way as to hurt others.

Is it wrong? IMO, it's disturbed if we're talking about healthy developing children but it is your child. I think you should have it enabled and expose your kid to whatever you like as long a CPS doesn't object. I'm well aware Europe is more open to children and sexual activity, etc.

It's your child. But some activity is clearly deviate, like eating **** for sexual gratification, and I think it is a very acceptable default to block children from that.

The list McKay refers to below is an issue of privacy that raises concerns.

The problem is this idea of being responsible parent is being further eroded, more nanny state measures enabling parents to blame everyone but themselves for bad parenting. "Little Johnny managed to circumvent the filter and was upset by what he saw, so now we're suing our ISP" I can see the stories now.
And these so called campaigns by rags like the Daily Mail and The Sun, total hypocrisy, pushing for a porn ban while displaying young girls objectified throughout their papers, especially page 3

Youngy said,
The problem is this idea of being responsible parent is being further eroded, more nanny state measures enabling parents to blame everyone but themselves for bad parenting. "Little Johnny managed to circumvent the filter and was upset by what he saw, so now we're suing our ISP" I can see the stories now.
And these so called campaigns by rags like the Daily Mail and The Sun, total hypocrisy, pushing for a porn ban while displaying young girls objectified throughout their papers, especially page 3

I agree with all that. There is not easy solution. I guess erring on the side of caution works best for me as long as rights aren't denied. Inconvenience, fine, censorship, that's just dangerous, as is recording who disables the porn filter. That if true, is disturbing.

MorganX said,
Since most homes have kids, I don't have a problem with this. Are you so horny you can't take half a minute to unblock it? Let's stay civilized.

I like this a lot! I wish the US would do this as well. =)

MorganX said,
Since most homes have kids, I don't have a problem with this. Are you so horny you can't take half a minute to unblock it? Let's stay civilized.

Families with kids already had plenty of options to block porn on the Internet. This is a kind of big brother control.

Yeah they do. In US almost no one used the V-chip in TVs, and controls are in PCs and Xbox, etc. Parents are too lazy or simply unaware. So I personally don't mind the default being block first.

Keeping a list of those who choose to unblock is big brother like and absolutely would not go over well (or at all) in the US either.

MorganX said,
Yeah they do. In US almost no one used the V-chip in TVs, and controls are in PCs and Xbox, etc. Parents are too lazy or simply unaware. So I personally don't mind the default being block first.

Keeping a list of those who choose to unblock is big brother like and absolutely would not go over well (or at all) in the US either.

But thinking the internet companies dont already know who goes where is also a very big leap. I am sure they know where everyone has gone on the internet. The block might actually be nice in that sex offenders or pedophiles might be required to have that blocked at all times on their internet.

Brian M. said,
Unfortunately ISP's don't really have a choice. They pretty much have to start doing this.

No, they really don't. If it takes legislation (so there is government mandated censorship) then that it what it should be. At least then there can be a possibility of reasonable debate by the entire populace instead of some interfering "think of the children" dick heads screwing things up for everybody just because there are things their petty little hypocritical minds can't handle.

Can't help noticing there is no "None" option (like Google has with SafeSearch "off", even if it isn't really). So what does "Light" mean?

mrlcutleruk83 said,
They say "adult" so does that mean just porn or does it include the sicko death\rape sites too ?

Who here thinks porn sites do harm?

Good point, what about be-headings etc?

That will follow. They just needed a reason to start with limiting the access to the internet. now they just need to change the scope

The Daily Mail get there way.

It should be a choice to block not default. /IMHO

So who is liable if something gets through?

stevember said,
The Daily Mail get there way.

With any luck there will be a reporting function so the hypocritical Fail can be blocked for all the images that are unsuitable for other sites to have but somehow just fine for them on theirs...

mrbester said,

With any luck there will be a reporting function so the hypocritical Fail can be blocked for all the images that are unsuitable for other sites to have but somehow just fine for them on theirs...

I so hope there's a report function. Daily Mail is full of Women in their underwear and Bikinis.

I wouldn't want Children subjected to that smut.

McKay said,

I so hope there's a report function. Daily Mail is full of Women in their underwear and Bikinis.

I wouldn't want Children subjected to that smut.

I smell a campaign coming on, let's do it!