TalkTalk: Don't force ISPs across porn-filter Rubicon

TalkTalk: Don't force ISPs across porn-filter Rubicon

Summary: The UK government should not force ISPs to mandate opt-in porn filters, according to Google and Talk Talk.Government plans to legislate for network-level parental controls that force people to either opt-in or opt-out of pornographic and violent content "would be a mistake", and Google head of UK public policy Sarah Hunter told the Google Big Tent event on Wednesday in answer to a question from ZDNet UK.

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TOPICS: Security
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The UK government should not force ISPs to mandate opt-in porn filters, according to Google and Talk Talk.

Government plans to legislate for network-level parental controls that force people to either opt-in or opt-out of pornographic and violent content "would be a mistake", and Google head of UK public policy Sarah Hunter told the Google Big Tent event on Wednesday in answer to a question from ZDNet UK.

"A lot of solutions being discussed are not that perfect," said Hunter. "A lot of filters either over-block or under-block."

Use of filters could "deskill parents" who may be lulled into a false sense of security.

Filters can be circumvented, Andrew Heaney from Talk Talk told the audience, and that legislation for mandatory filters would force ISPs into an irreversible situation.

"[Filters are] not difficult to get around," said Heaney. "I think the government should be encouraging ISPs to offer [filters]. Do not force them, because you cross over a Rubicon."

Talk Talk launched its own HomeSafe parental control system in 2011, which is an optional network level filter. Nevertheless, Heaney said that both device-level and network level filtering were possible to circumvent.

Free speech campaign organisation Index on Censorship said that porn-blocking could have an impact at a societal level.

"More blocking at network level means blocking at societal level, and that is very dangerous," said Index on Censorship chief executive Kirsty Hughes.

A bill is currently going through parliament that in its present form would mandate network-level blocking and opt-in for pornography.

Topic: Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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