Posts Tagged ‘isp’

Network Level Filters Campaign Updates

July 20, 2011

The call for voluntary network level filters capable of blocking pornography continues to grow. In the UK now over 70 MP’s have added their support to the idea, backing the campaign headed by Claire Perry. The adverse impact of pornography on children is becoming increasingly apparent. Also apparent is the increased demand on services offering help to children and young adults who struggle with pornography addictions.

If you want to get involved in this campaign then see SaferMedia for more information and follow Family Safe ISP on FaceBook.

Does Porn Affect Children?

Those who doubt the impact of porn on the brain and body would do well to read Mark B Kastleman‘s book on the subject.  The ProtectKids website provides a further sobering read of the impact of pornography on children. In a review paper Victor C. Straburger et al (Pediatrics March 10, 2010), state that nearly 50% of a sample of 1500 children 10-17 years old had been exposed to pornography, and porn exposure can be linked to earlier engagement in sex. It is also recognized that frequent pornography use among young men and adolescents, “intensifies attitudes supportive of sexual coercion and increases their likelihood of perpetrating assault” (Michael Flood, Child Abuse Review 2009). Yet more information on the impact of pornography on children and adults is found in this Mental Health Library review by Victor B Cline.

Network Filtering – A Tool in the Battle

Trying to limit childhood exposure to, and harm cause by, pornography, inevitably requires a multi-pronged approach. Parental involvement with their children is vital, as is the need to inform both parents and their children of the risks.

Various technological tools also exist, the most well know being computer based filters which have been around for years. A new tool in the bag are network filters, which provide a layer of protection for a whole network, or household, in one go. Often the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) resist the idea of network filters. BT talks of Parental Controls, but seems to want to keep network filtering out of the package.

One ISP, TalkTalk, now provides a network level filter as a free, opt-in, service to it’s customers. Called HomeSafe this allow the account holder to set filtering individually for several different categories, as previously described. In the first 6 weeks, over 50,000 TalkTalk customers opted to turn the filters on, showing the demand in the public for this kind of help.

We would like this kind of package to become a standard service provided throughout the ISP industry in the UK. Ideally, these filters should be set to ‘on’ as standard with the user able to turn them off at will. This will probably encourage the most people to engage with the issues of pornography use and it’s potential subsequent effects.

Obviously, no technological system is going to be fail safe. They all let some sites through and they all incorrectly block some innocent ones. They can all be worked around by the determined. But, by supporting the Network Filter Campaign, you can make a difference and see another parental control tool made routinely available for the increased protection of our children.


TalkTalk Launches Home Safe – Includes Pornography Filter

May 10, 2011

TalkTalk is the first major UK Internet Service Provider (ISP) to launch ISP side content filtering. Free to TalkTalk users, for the first time, this gives parents and account holders the ability to block some specific content before it enters the home in the first place. M0st people favour ISP level filters, a recent poll suggests, and this is a very welcome development.

Branded Home Safe, the free TalkTalk service provides three specific tools that helps parents manage internet access for the whole home at one source:

  1. Kids Safe:Currently switched off by default, when switched on there are several categories that can be individually blocked including:
    1. Dating
    2. Drugs Alcohol Tobacco
    3. File Sharing Sites
    4. Gambling
    5. Games
    6. Pornography
    7. Social Networking
    8. Suicide and Self-harm
    9. Weapons and Violence

    In addition, the user can enter the domains of up to 8 other specific websites they want blocked (not a lot, but a start).

  2. Homework Time: Currently switched off by default, this panel controls the time that Gaming and Social Networking sites can be accessed by the household. When turned on, the account holder can change the specified times to suit their needs, with an additional option to have these settings only applied on weekdays.
  3. Virus Alerts: Currently switched off by default, when switched on this setting blocks access to websites infected with viruses.

On the whole, this is an encouraging and welcome development, and makes TalkTalk the first major UK ISP to recognize the need for house-wide protection. Especially as traditional device-level (computer based) filters can not provide protection for the growing plethora of web-enabled devices.

We have not been able, as yet, to find out how the filtering system works, and neither can we obviously see options to report either sites that are being incorrectly blocked or suggest those that the filter is missing. These tools would also be very welcome.

As with any such technology, no doubt this one will be imperfect and have it’s problems. However, for the first time an account holder has an easy way to add a layer of protection to the whole house in one go. It therefore makes a very useful addition to other tools such as OpenDNS and computer filter / web-blocking programmes. And it is free to TalkTalk users.

As noted by TalkTalk in this  BBC report, these filters are not intended intended as a cure-all.  As a spokesman for the compnay said, “This is the most robust system that’s available but what it’s not is a substitute for good parenting.”

If you have any comments / experience or problems using the TalkTalk filters, then please post them. You never know, TalkTalk may be following.

How You Can Support the ISP-Level Anti-Porn Filter Campaign

January 27, 2011

On the 7 February 2011, Ed Vaizey MP, the Minister for Culture will be meeting the major British Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to discuss the potential of voluntary, ‘opt-in’ filters that would remove pornography from users’ content at the ISP level. There has been growing demand for this service which would provide parents with a powerful, probably most effective, means of monitoring and controlling what comes into the home. It is proposed that the ISP level filters would:

  • Be Voluntary so that people can turn it on or off at will.
  • Be Comprehensive while it is recognized that no system will ever be 100% effective.
  • Be Dynamic learning and catching more adult content to over time.
  • Be Flexible allowing account holders to turn off and on, even set ‘watershed times’ if required and potentially have specific URL and domain management.
  • Protect Better than current PC filters, which are easily worked around, both from exposure to pornography and the malware that often comes from these sites.
  • Cover New Devices such as web-enabled TVs, blu-ray players, games consoles etc which can not currently be protected in another way.

Support for this Urgently Needed NOW – If you would like to see these voluntary filters become a reality, then you can help by doing the following things:

  1. Send an Email to Ed Vaizey either copy the Ed Vaizey ISP Filter Email text below and emailing it or click on this Send Email to Ed Vaizey link which will open the email in Outlook with all the info put in there, you just need to add your name etc to the bottom)
  2. Send an Email to Your MP by simply copying the MP ISP Filter Email text below and emailing to your MP, which you can find on
  3. Contact your Councilor using a variation of the MP ISP Filer Email, pointing out the benefit to protecting schools, libraries, youth centre etc.
  4. Support Family Safe ISP on FaceBook by visiting the Family Safe ISP FaceBook page, ‘Like’ it and then share with friends.
  5. Contact Your ISP and ask them to introduce ISP-level filtering. Suggest you may move to another provider that does so.
  6. Donate to Safermedia, who are spearheading a campaign for this (you can contact them on or through the Safermedia Facebook page.
  7. Spread the Message, link to this blog, tweet this blog, tell you friends, write to your local paper, inform your church/mosque etc, spread the word.

Ed Vaizey ISP Filter Email Copy and amend as required:

Dear Mr Vaizey,

Thank you for your efforts in arranging a meeting with internet service providers to discuss how the industry can better support parents and help them ensure that their children cannot access pornography.

Research clearly indicates that viewing pornography leads to an acceptance of violent and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships, where the objectification of women and aggressive sexual behaviour are the norm.

That is why I strongly support your initiative, suggested by Claire Perry MP, to switch the default setting for internet pornography into our homes  to ‘off’, and implement an ‘opt-in’ system.  I urge you to promote it as robustly as possible at your forthcoming roundtable with the ISPs in February.

Yours sincerely,



Organisation (if appropriate):


MP ISP Filter Email Copy and amend as required:


As you may be aware, on the 7 February 2011, Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture is meeting with internet service providers to discuss how the industry can better support parents and help them ensure that their children cannot access pornography.

Research clearly indicates that viewing pornography leads to an acceptance of violent and unhealthy notions of sex and relationships, where the objectification of women and aggressive sexual behaviour are the norm.

I urge you to lend your support to this initiative, suggested by Claire Perry MP, to switch the default setting for internet pornography into our homes  to ‘off’, and implement an ‘opt-in’ system.  I urge you to promote it as robustly as possible within parliament and support any legislation as may be required to provide us with this most useful tool to protect our homes and children should the ISPs be unwilling to implement such filters otherwise.

Yours sincerely,



Organisation (if appropriate):


Support for those Struggling – Anyone who struggles with pornography may be able to find help through the following sources:

  1. Send an email to Ed Vaizey by simply copying the Ed Vaizey ISP Filter Email text below and emailing it to

ISP Level anti-porn Filters – The Arguments

January 21, 2011

In the past few months the debate around filtering of porn and adult material on the internet has once again raised it’s head in the UK. Quite often the same, standard arguments are put forward by those that oppose the idea. These arguments are increasingly being found wanting, and there is a growing demand for a Family Safe ISP service, asking that all internent service providers give the voluntary ability for account holders to choose to have pornography filtered before it even gets into the home.

In December 2010, Claire Perry MP led a debate in parliament on the issue (which can be viewed here). This was picked up by the press, with the Sunday Times carrying a front page article in the paper and a large article in their Sunday Times Magazine. Ed Vaizey, the Minister for Culture, is expected be holding a round-table meeting with the major UK internet service providers early in 2011.

So, why are people asking for this? The internet has changed dramatically since it was first founded. Not only that, there are now a plethora of web-enabled devices floating around the home. Gone are the days when a single, expensive PC took central place in the home connected to slow dialup.

Today, scattered around the home, are various computers and laptops as well as web-enabled phones, games consoles, blu-ray players etc. In addition there is a growing body of evidence, that children are becoming exposed to porn at an increasingly younger age (often as young as 11) and that this exposure can have a detrimental effect on their health, as described  in the UK Governments’ Sexualisation of Young People report in 2010.

It has also been noted that many porn sites are run by criminal organisations and that porn sites are often linked to cyber attacks. An ISP level filter could therefore also help increase computer security and reduce malicious computer attacks.

So with this in mind, more people are asking for the ability to block porn before it even gets into the home. And here are the arguments around the issue:


  • Against: An ISP level filter amounts to censorship of web content, a denial of freedom of expression and is the first part of the UK governments attempt to gain control of the web. Any censorship of the web of any kind should always be resisted.
  • For: The ISP level filter would be voluntary. Each customer would be able to choose to have it switched on or off at will. Therefore this is not censorship, but self regulated control. It is not restricting access to porn of freedom of expression to those who still want it. As a voluntary option, it is not controlled by the government.

On a separate note on censorship, the ISPs are required, by law, to filter out child pornography where possible. This is blanket censorship of such material, but few people are likely to object.


  • Against: The technology does not exist and it is not possible to do.
  • For: Many mobile phone companies already have such filters on web enabled phones (see article). If it is possible for mobile phones then surely it should be possible for ISPs. In addition, other industries have managed this to some degree. Examples include Google with their SafeSearch options, filtering every single search. Various companies offer PC based filters. Surely these technologies can be adapted to use at the ISP level. TalkTalk are interested in the idea, so they obviously think it is possible.

It Can Not be Perfect

  • Against: An ISP level filter can never be designed to catch everything, and therefore should not be done. Hundreds of new porn sites appear daily, and no filter can keep up.
  • For: Perfection is not being demanded, but an ISP level filter can catch most of the sites. Also, a way of reporting new sites can be built in allowing the public to continue to add to the database.

It is the Parents Responsibility

  • Against: It is up to the parents to control and monitor what their children see on their computers. The ISPs are only the gate through which material flows, and should not take on the job of gate-keeper.
  • For: Having the ability to control at one point all the porn that comes into a home is the best tool a parent could have to execute that responsibility. There are now too many devices in the home to manage individually, and the optional ISP level filter would be a powerful tool to help do the job.

PC Filters are Already Available

  • Against: There are already tools available that do this so there is no need for ISP level filters.
  • For: PC level filters are often easily worked around. The time taken to manage each computer in the home is becoming increasingly burdensome. The filters can not keep up with new web-enabled devices. The ISP level filter would be a better and more useful tool.

ISPs also quote issues of cost. However, they could adopt a business model similar to the Cable / Satellite TV companies, who charge clients for access to adult content.

Another point worth bearing in mind, the cost of applying the filters now would have to be much less than that of fighting off court cases later where adults then try to sue the ISPs for exposure to porn as a child, which the ISP could have prevented but chose not to, that the adult claim has had an adverse impact on their health and life. This may seem far fetched, but, as with cigarettes, a class action in the future is, I suspect, more than just a mere possibility.

The last argument recently voiced is that men would be against this as the ISP level filter would block their own access to porn in the home. I doubt, however, that most men oppose it when their wives and partners say ‘Honey, I want us to activate this ISP anti-porn filter to protect our children.’

Obviously, the application of ISP level filters has application outside the home, and could also be a useful tool in public spaces, like libraries and schools, that also have to fight porn off the computers.

For more links to various articles, see the Family Safe ISP page on FaceBook.

(Article by Peter Watts)

ISP Level Filters – Give Parents the Tools

January 19, 2011

In England there is a growing demand for filters to be provided by internet service providers (ISPs) to allow customers to block porn and adult websites before they even get into the home (the Family Safe ISP). While one ISP (TalkTalk) has responded with some favour to the idea, the other major ISPs currently seemed to be opposed on the grounds that it is up to the parents to control and monitor what their children are seeing.

We agree. It is. However, given that:

  1. Monitoring and filtering each web-enabled device individually in the home is very time consuming;
  2. Computer based filters are often worked around by tech savy children;
  3. Parents just do not have the time to and resources to keep an eye on the multiple PCs, web enabled phones, game consoles etc that exist within a household;
  4. Commercial filters are not currently available or can keep up with the multiplication of web enabled devices;

It is becoming increasingly obvious that a one-stop ISP level filter would probably be the best tool for the job.

So, the ISP’s say it is the parents responsibility to take parental control.

We Agree! So when will the ISPs give us voluntary ISP level filters so we have the best tools to fulfil our responsibility?

We are asking the ISPs to help us, yet they seem to refuse to do so. Maybe it needs legislation, maybe it needs just one to be ‘brave’ and then have a marketing edge on being the Family Friendly ISP for a short time.

Or maybe the ISPs need to consider 10 years down the line. It would not be too surprising to then see someone sue the ISPs for the damage they suffered through inadvertent exposure to porn as a child which the ISPs were able to help filter out, but choose not to do so…. Maybe some shareholders might have a view on whether spending money now on ISP filter is better than possibly spending a lot more later on court cases.

Follow the debate:Family Safe ISP Facebook Page

ISP Level Porn Filters – The Best Protection

December 20, 2010

Recent articles in both the Daily Mail and Sunday Times in the UK have taken another look at the impact of pornography on children and it’s prevalence in society today. There is now clear evidence that exposure to porn changes the way we view each other, what we expect out of relationship and how we approach sex. On the whole, much of the evidence suggests that the results are mostly detrimental.

However, to date we have been put in the position of having to fight this material out of our homes. The responsibility been on monitoring computer use in the home, applying filters etc on computers and keeping an eye on what is being looked at.

But why should this burden be pushed upon us? Is it possible to ask for control over what the internet service provider (ISP) pumps into our homes in the first place? We all know that access to porn is but a few clicks away, and filters can all be worked around.

So, what can we do? Industry and parliament will only sit up and take notice if we keep demanding it. Let us not wait until a tragic, and horrific death, caused by a child who has watched porn, shocks and shames us to take action. Let us do so now. You can:

  • Contact and register with SaferMedia and join their campaign, and follow them on their blog.
  • Write to your MP.
  • Follow Family Safe ISP on Facebook and share with your friends.
  • Tweet this blog, share it on Facebook or link to it.
  • Write a letter to your paper. Recent articles have appeared in both the Daily Mail and Sunday Times newspapers.

The usual objections raised include restriction of freedom of expression, cost and technological capability. Well, lets have a look at these:

Freedom of Expression – I suggest that ISP level filters are applied as ‘on’ as standard, and that the account holder is able to request the filter to be turned off if they wish. This then does not infringe on freedom of expression at all, and should therefore not be objected to by the industry or civil groups. Indeed, they should support it as a more effective way of protecting children. The ISP level filter could even include the ability to manage specific websites / URLs, much as PC based filters currently do, and could even have a watershed time option built in.

Technological – BT and other UK based ISP are already required to filter out child pornography websites. BT does this using it’s CleanFeed filter. Therefore, it is possible to apply ISP level filters. The technology already exists. It just needs extending and adding a little flexibility to give the account holder control over the content allowed through. PC based filters like SafeEyes already give URL specific filtering options, so to suggest this can not be done is illogical.

Cost – This, then, is the last complaint. Well, it would be easy to apply an ‘on’ as standard and then charge the customer to be able to either manage the filter or have it removed. This is what what happens to sex channels on TV, why not the internet too? It would cover the cost of the filter.

The reality is that ISP level filters are possible, already applied in the UK for some things. The costs can be recouped by charging for access to the mature content. It is the safest way of protecting children and allow control of what comes into our homes (bar not having internet at all).