Woman giving sexy eyes

Almost nobody is using the U.K. Internet porn filters

Shares

The U.K. government’s attempt to shield Internet users from illicit websites has proved to be a massive turn off.

A huge majority of people have chosen to disable controversial “porn filters,” with more than 90 percent customers of the U.K.’s biggest Internet service provider (ISP) opting in to pornography and other supposedly naughty material.

According to a new report by telecoms regulator Ofcom, the three biggest U.K. ISPs found that an average of more than 94 percent of customers disable the parental control filter. Only 4 percent of Virgin Media customers kept the trammel turned on, with 5 and 8 percent of customers doing the same for BT and Sky, respectively.

The fourth biggest ISP in the U.K., TalkTalk, had considerably higher uptake. After introducing its parental safeguard in 2011, the company said 20 percent of customers were keeping it on, but this increased to 36 percent when the company started pre-ticking the box along with all the other ISPs, per the government mandate.

In December 2013, U.K. Internet companies started blocking a wide range of websites for new customers by default. Dubbed “porn filters” by the media, they also censored websites containing material related to dating, file sharing, drugs, alcohol, tobacco and gambling.

As critics warned beforehand, however, the filters ended up censoring way more than this supposedly illicit material.

The Open Rights Group, a nonprofit that promotes Internet freedom, found the new safeguard blocked 20 percent of all websites, including many educational resources. They even screened out a car dealership and a political blog.

Critics of the censorship program feared that many people wouldn’t opt out of these mandatory filters, since they would have to actively disable them. Sky explained the system for its customers:

“When customers install a new SkyHub router for the first time, regardless of whether they are a new or existing customer, are presented with a screen that invites them to choose whether to implement Sky’s Broadband Shield product, and if so, to choose the appropriate preconfigured age rating. To encourage take-up, the 13 age rating is pre-ticked.”

Alas, it seems even technical nuisances won’t stop Internet users from access everything the Web has to offer, porn included.

Photo via kennyrivas/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)