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.

Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
music
Arts and Entertainment
booksNovelist takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Arts and Entertainment
Al Pacino in ‘The Humbling’, as an ageing actor
filmHam among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
News
Fifi Trixibelle Geldof with her mother, Paula Yates, in 1985
people
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
Mario Balotelli in action during his Liverpool debut
football ...but he can't get on the scoresheet in impressive debut
Environment
Pigeons have been found with traces of cocaine and painkillers in their system
environmentCan species be 'de-extincted'?
Arts and Entertainment
booksExclusive extract from Howard Jacobson’s acclaimed new novel
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
A Pilgrim’s Progress is described by its publisher as “the one-and-only definitive record” of David Hockney's life and works
people
Sport
Loic Remy signs for Chelsea
footballBlues wrap up deal on the eve of the transfer window
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker
TV
Life and Style
Instagram daredevils get thousands of followers
techMeet the daredevil photographers redefining urban exploration with death-defying stunts
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'
TVDaughter says contestant was manipulated 'to boost ratings'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    Lead FE Software Developer (JavaScript, TDD, jQuery, Knockout)

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Lead FE Softwa...

    Quality Assurance Engineer (Excellent education, Manual, Automa

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Quality ...

    CRM Developer (MS Dynamics 2011/2013, JavaScript)

    £55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: CRM MS Dynamic...

    Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL)

    Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Graduate C#.NET Developer (TDD, ASP.NET, SQL) Su...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor