Abuse support and sex education sites blocked by ISP's 'porn filters'

The filterting of adult content has been backed by Prime Minister David Cameron as a method to stop young children accessing pornography online

Internet filters introduced by the UK’s four major ISPs are also blocking access to sites offering sex education and support services for rape and domestic abuse.

TalkTalk, Sky and BT have all introduced filters. BT’s was introduced earlier this month whilst TalkTalk’s has been in operation for more than two years. Virgin Media have introduced a pilot programme ahead of a full roll-out in 2014.

In a report from the BBC all three currently-operating filters were found to work erratically: TalkTalk’s failed to identify 7 per cent of websites with adult content, but blocked content including the award-winning sex education site BishUK.com and Edinburgh’s Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.

Sky’s filter blocked 99 per cent of the 68 adult sites tested, but also blocked six sites offering advice to individuals addicted to pornography. Sites blocked by BT’s filter included those dedicated to tackling domestic abuse (Reducing The Risk and the Domestic Abuse Helpline) and others that offered sex education advice.

The introduction of family filters has been backed by Prime Minister David Cameron, who spoke in July about the need to stop children “stumbling across hardcore legal pornography”.

Mr Cameron also noted that he disagreed with Jim Gamble, the former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), who argued that internet filters of legal pornography do little to deter paedophiles operating in the “dark corners of the internet on peer-to-peer websites.”

Mike Deri Smith, the freelance journalist who conducted the research for the BBC, noted that the reason for ISPs blocking sex education sites was likely due to the use of third-party blacklists.

“Sometimes these are American companies that have slightly different cultural values to us,” Mr Smith told The Independent. “For example, they might offer to block sex education sites for parents that want to deal with the topic at home.”

“This means that ISPs don’t always have direct control or immediate access to what gets blocked.”

Mr Smith also noted that it was unsurprising that the method used to create these filters – scanning sites for the use of sex-related keywords – flagged up false-positives, but that the ISPs can now put more energy into creating a strong ‘white list’ of approved sites.

The government also announced last month that they would be implementing a similar filter for “extremist” content. After the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in May this year, Cameron promised to “drain the swamp” of Islamic extremist material breeding acts of terror in the UK.

However, ISPs and freedom of speech advocates are worried that these new measures could lead to the blocking of content that is “extremist” but not illegal.

"There is always a concern about mission creep," an anonymous source from a major ISP told The Guardian. "When it comes to incitement it's not as clear cut as child exploitation. If there is a robust appeals process, that could potentially overcome some of those concerns."

It's not known exactly what measures will be introduced, though it's understood that the model will be similar to that used to tackle child abuse, with a third-party body partly funded by the industry flagging sites for ISPs to take down. The government is expected to announce more details shortly.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Graduate BI Consultant (Business Intelligence) - London

    £24000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate BI Consultant (B...

    Service Delivery Manager (Product Manager, Test and Deployment)

    £40000 - £55000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Service Delivery Manager (Product Ma...

    Technical Product Marketing Specialist - London - £70,000

    £50000 - £70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Cloud Product and Solutions Marketin...

    Trainee Helpdesk Analyst / 1st Line Application Support Analyst

    £18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam