TalkTalk customers will be unable to activate broadband until they specify which categories of website children can access
Parents purchasing a new broadband service will have to say if they want their children to have access to porn, gambling, self-harm and other controversial websites.
TalkTalk will provide the service to each new customer from the end of the month, in an industry first praised by ministers determined to slow the sexualisation and commercialisation of childhood.
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Under the scheme, new TalkTalk customers will be unable to activate their broadband until they tick a box saying whether they are willing to allow children access to nine sensitive categories of websites, including porn, dating, gambling, gaming, suicide, social networking and weapons and violence. They will be alerted automatically either by email or text if the controls are changed.
Some Christian groups called for regulation of the internet industry forcing rivals to follow TalkTalk’s lead. Peter Kerridge, of Premier Christian Media Trust, said: “Our kids are a vital target for those who deal in the world of online pornography.”
He claimed that one in three 10-year-olds had stumbled across and viewed pornography online, and 81% of 14-16-year-olds regularly accessed explicit photographs and footage on their home computers and mobile phones.
TalkTalk has already provided parents with the opportunity to block access to websites through its HomeSafe service, but the parent had to choose to impose the controls. So far 240,000 parents have done so.
Under the new scheme, the parent will be unable to access TalkTalk broadband without making a conscious choice on the controls. A spokesman said the service needed as few as five clicks from parents but had required a great deal of technical work to set up.
The children’s minister, Tim Loughton, praised TalkTalk and said he hoped other internet service providers would offer similar services shortly. “Through the UK Council for Child Internet Safety we are working with industry and charities to provide tools and information to inform parents and help keep children safe online,” he said.
David Cameron has made active parental controls on access to websites one of the top four priorities to emerge from the Bailey review into the sexualisation of childhood. Cameron had been due to meet Reg Bailey last week to discuss progress on the review, now rebranded as part of his responsibile capitalism agenda, but the prime minister was forced to delay due to other commitments.
Research by TalkTalk found that 60% of parents worried that their child might accidentally look at inappropriate content online, and nearly 40% of seven-year-olds and 60% of nine-year-olds had used the internet alone. Fewer than a third of parents (31%) said they were very confident that their child was protected from online threats, and 10% said they relied solely on their own vigilance rather than using security software.
Source: The guardian