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UK ISPs to filter Internet

26 October, 2011
By Allison Orr

Britain's four largest Internet service providers (ISPs) have announced that they will be implementing filters to block adult-themed content.

At first, the announcement appeared to be saying that filtering would be mandatory, and any person wanting to access filtered content would need to apply to their ISP.   However, the ISPs (covering about 90 per cent of the market) later said the "opt-in" system was not entirely correct: it will only apply to new customers, while existing customers can stay as they are, or choose to have the filtering.

The decision came after a review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of children, the Bailey Report, which made a series of recommendations across all media, including "making it easier for parents to block adult and age-restricted material from the Internet".  This move also appears to have been brought on by lobbying by a Christian group, Mothers' Union.

There are some concerns that the filtering will be done at the discretion of the ISPs, and they have not revealed what is on the blacklists nor how they define what goes on them.  This differs from Australia's proposed filtering scheme, which is intended to be mandatory, but the ACMA would create the blacklist.

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