Porn filters not widely used in UK says Ofcom

Family sitting in front of laptop Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Parental controls are designed to filter out pornography and other unsuitable content

The vast majority of UK internet users are not taking advantage of net censors designed to filter out pornography and other content, according to the communications regulator Ofcom.

Parental controls are offered to users to prevent children seeing unsuitable material.

Sky customers were most likely to implement the filters and BT customers least likely, Ofcom reported.

Some 97% of those who had adopted filters said they were useful.

The UK's largest internet service providers (ISPs) are required under a semi-voluntary agreement with the UK government to adopt network-level filtering via a scheme known as Active Choice Plus.

Between 30% to 40% of Sky customers enabled filters, Ofcom's report said.

That compared to 14% for TalkTalk, 12% for Virgin Media and 6% for BT.

Sky automatically enables the feature even if the original request is ignored, which likely explains why it has the highest take-up rate. All ISPs allow users to disable the filters whenever they want.

New users were more likely to enable the filters than existing ones, said Ofcom.

Responsible children

The report also indicated that awareness of ISP content filters had increased among parents of children aged five to 15, from 50% last year to 57% this year.

Some 76% of parents said that they knew enough to help their children manage online risks, with the vast majority - 78% - saying that they trusted their children to use the internet safely.

Reasons given for not using filters were threefold:

  • Half of parents said that they preferred to talk to their children
  • Four in 10 said they trusted their children to be responsible
  • Two in 10 said their children were always supervised when using the net

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