Friday 21 December 2012

A wonderfully positive end to 2012

Last week the government published the results of their consultation into protecting children online which rejected the idea of an automatic block on explicit sites.  However, yesterday

David Cameron announced that web filters would
now be default for all houses with children.

In the future new users will be asked, the first time they switched on a computer, whether or not there are children in the house.  If they answer yes they will be prompted to tailor filters which include options to block particular kinds of content, individual sites or restrict access at specific times of day.  If parents click through the options quickly in the set up, filters against pornography and self harm sites will be left on. They will also have to verify that they are over 18.

Mr Cameron has appointed Claire Perry MP as his adviser on reversing the commercialisation and sexualisation of children.  Mrs Perry led the campaign for wider online filters in the UK and she will now be in charge of implementing this new filter system. 

This is a huge step in the right direction although it remains to be seen just how the system will function and whether or not it will offer the same degree of protection as the ‘opt-in’ option.  It is also still unclear whether this filter will work at device or network level and how it will be rolled out to existing customers; consumers don’t often change their ISPs and, given a 15% ‘churn’ rate, it would take 6 years until restrictions were on most computers which is an unacceptably long time. 

However, this is undoubtedly good news; this new system means that the UK will be leading the world in making the online environment safe for children.

Thank you for your part in making this a reality.

It’s a wonderful, positive way to end 2012. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Friday 14 December 2012

Protecting children online: the 'official' view

Today the Government published its response to the consultation on parental internet controls which took place earlier this year.  You can read the full response here.

The consultation reveals that 57 per cent of the 757 parents who responded to the consultation were in favour of stricter controls, including 47 per cent who wanted an opt-in system.

However, in total, just one in six of the 3,509 respondents – most of whom were not parents – supported the full opt-in solution.  According to media reports two-thirds of the respondents were from the Open Rights Group, which campaigns against default filters to block online pornography.

The report recommends that:

  • Internet service providers actively encourage people to switch on parental controls if children are in the household and will be using the internet.

  • Internet service providers should actively encourage parents – whether new or existing customers – to switch on parental controls.

  • The industry, including retailers and device manufacturers, should work to develop universally-available, family-friendly internet access.  All internet-enabled devices should be supplied with the tools to keep children safe as standard.

Ministers will now work with industry, charities and experts to make these recommendations a reality.  This process will begin at the board meeting of the UK Council for Children Internet Safety on Monday.

We are delighted that real attention is being paid to children’s online safety and action is now taking place.  However we are disappointed that the recommendations fall someway short of the opt-in measure which we, and many other charities and children’s organisations, believe to be the best way to ensure that the majority of children are protected from harmful online material.  Our campaign for this vital protection continues and we will let you know the next step – and how you can get involved – in the New Year.