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
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
news
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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

    Ashdown Group: Head of IT - Hertfordshire - £90,000

    £70000 - £90000 per annum + bonus + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: H...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - SQL Server, T-SQL

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst / Data Analyst (SQL Server, T-SQL, data)

    £28000 - £32000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Analyst...

    Ashdown Group: European Recruitment Manager - Cheshire - up to £48,000

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus and benefits: Ashdown Group: European Recrui...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence