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Most Brits have not turned on porn filters

Somewhat unsurprisingly, most internet subscribers in the UK do not want their web access censored.

Around a year ago the government reached a deal with the UK’s four largest ISP’s – O2, Virgin Media, Sky and BT (plus Nomad and Arqiva) – to introduce an ‘opt-in’ system of censorship of pornographic material on the internet. Using the rallying cry of ‘we must protect the children’, many suspected these ‘porn’ filters would be used by the government to sneakily introduce wider, politically motivated, censorship by stealth, and indeed as it quickly became apparent, that this is indeed the case.

In theory all new internet subscriptions from participating ISPs have ‘family-friendly filters’ that restrict adult content turned on by default (Virgin Media only added its filters this spring), unless the subscriber chooses to have them switched off. In practice things seem somewhat different, and a new Ofcom report found that Virgin engineers only asked around 35 percent of new customers if they wanted the filters activated.

The ‘Department of Dirty’ is a campaign by UK Open Rights Group (ORG), using humor to spread awareness of the porn filters, and how they are a ridiculous but very troubling form of censorship that must be resisted before they are made mandatory

In addition to this, only Talk Talk presented all new customers with the filtering option pre-ticked during installation, something which may account for its greater success at encouraging user uptake – 36 percent of customers, rather than 5 percent (BT), 8 percent (Sky), and 4 percent (Virgin).

UK porn filter censorship  categories

Although Ofcom’s figures only apply to filters activated by new customers, and some existing users may have activated them at a later date, it is clear that most people are not interested in having their internet censored, and if they feel the need to protect children, can deploy user-end software (‘net nanny’) solutions rather than limiting internet access for every adult who uses that connection.

As as something side note, but of particular interest to us here at BestVPN central, is Ofcom’s observation that,

Although the possibility of filter circumvention remains, each ISP has taken some steps to limit the extent of circumvention… However, the use of wholly encrypted connections, as is the case when a VPN service is active, would bypass all selective filtering services.


Douglas Crawford I am a freelance writer, technology enthusiast, and lover of life who enjoys spinning words and sharing knowledge for a living. Find me on Google+

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