Published on 13 May 2012 Sections ,

TalkTalk rolls out porn filter to all customers

TalkTalk will ask its 4.2m internet customers to decide whether they want to view pornography sites or not, putting pressure on other internet service providers to follow suit.

Since March, internet service provider TalkTalk has asked new customers to decide upfront whether they want to use parental controls to block websites that offer pornography, gambling, suicide and violent images. One in three chose to activate them.

Eighty per cent of new TalkTalk customers told the company that “being offered the choice of using filters upfront was a good thing and over 60 per cent said that they wouldn’t have turned on parental controls had they not been asked to make a choice,” the company said in a statement.

ISP’s ‘dragging their feet’

TalkTalk now plans to question all of its 4.2m customers, forcing them to choose whether to use settings that would block information on computers, mobile phones, games consoles and e-readers.

“I believe that internet safety is the road safety of our children’s generation,” Dido Harding, mother-of-two and TalkTalk chief, said in announcing the decision.

More than 350,000 TalkTalk customers use the free HomeSafe blocking service, which has been available for a year. While the blocking system is not impenetrable, it stops most material filtering through and can be switched on and off by adults wishing to view the sites.

TalkTalk has introduced a pornography filter that all customers will have to either sign up to or opt out of

Conservative backbencher Claire Perry has accused other internet providers of “dragging their feet” and being “complicit” in allowing children to view pornography. A parliamentary report found 77 per cent of women would sign up to a default filter barring pornographic content.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already said he plans to meet internet service providers to discuss solutions that would limit access by children to online pornography, an industry estimated to be worth £3bn a year.

In October, major internet suppliers including BT and Virgin said they have decided to change procedures to that when new customers sign up they will not be able to progress with accessing content until they decide whether to activate parental control over content. Previously the decision about whether to control adult content was made at any point after the sign up, when adult content may have already been accessed.

Child porn addicts

TalkTalk’s move promises to put pressure on even more internet providers to follow its lead. Politicians from all the major parties have called for stricter filters on pornography.

Experts say the ease of access to internet-connected phones and laptops are creating a new generation of children struggling with porn addiction. Research shows 43 per cent of frequent users of pornography began viewing images between of 11 and 13.