Cameron's ISP Porn Filters Backfire, Blocking Safe Sex Education Sites

By Gerald Lynch on at

We never wanted ‘em, but we got ‘em anyway. The roll-out of UK ISP’s government-mandated porn filters is in full swing, with the four major providers switching on their blockers. But, as expected, each has a very unique view of what constitutes “hardcore pornography”.

A BBC Newsnight investigation has found that the BT, Virgin, Sky and TalkTalk filters all struggle to differentiate between sex education sites and actual pornography, and none are perfect at blocking out the adult stuff anyway.

The worst offender seems to be TalkTalk’s filter, blocking helpful sex education websites such as BishUK.com and listing sites such as the Edinburgh Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre as “pornographic”. Of 68 saucy sites tested by Newsnight, 7 per cent slipped through the filter’s net. Sky’s filter fared better, blocking 99 per cent of adult sites tested, though also blocked sites aimed at supporting those suffering from sex addiction.

It’s an embarrassing investigation for David Cameron’s wholesome, family-friendly web campaign – if the Prime Minister is looking to promote healthy sexual practices, blocking access to informative and supportive sites such as those listed above will not help. While the filters will likely be refined, don’t expect any changes any time soon – main offender TalkTalk switched on its filter back in May 2011, and still struggles. For now, the best course of action seems the most obvious one – when asked whether or not to activate your ISP’s filter, decline, and if you’re concerned about what your children are viewing on the web, take the time out to do some proper parenting and talk to them about it. [BBC]