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

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