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Now TalkTalk switches on net filters by default

TalkTalk joins Sky in censoring the connections of customers who ignore requests to switch on filters

TalkTalk has joined Sky in censoring the internet connections of its customers by default. Sky announced last week that it would start filtering the connections of any of its customers who hadn’t yet chosen whether to switch on its parental control filters or not. 

Eager not to let a bandwagon-jumping opportunity pass, TalkTalk has now decided that it too will start censoring content for those who have yet to state their preference for sanitised web connections. TalkTalk already asks new customers if they want the filters switched on or not, and has heavily marketed its HomeSafe filters to existing customers. 

However, the broadband provider has now decided to go one step further and interrupt the surfing sessions of those who’ve yet to tell TalkTalk whether they want their connection filtered or not. “A very small proportion [of customers] haven’t visited their account settings, so to reach those people we’ve developed a ‘pop-up’ box which those customers will see when they try to visit any website that would be filtered by HomeSafe if it was active,” writes the company’s head of external communications, Alex Birtles, on the TalkTalk blog. “The pop-up will present them with an unavoidable choice, with customers free to decide whether HomeSafe is right for them.”

TalkTalk was the first major ISP to offer network-level parental control filters, and has already signed up many more customers than any of its rivals. Ofcom’s latest figures show 36% of TalkTalk customers are using HomeSafe, whilst rivals such as Virgin Media have only got 4% of customers using its filters. 

However, the term HomeSafe was something of a misnomer when our sister site, PC Pro, first tested the service when it launched back in 2012. Even with the filter set at its highest safety level, PC Pro’s testers were able to access highly explicit pornographic images through Google and easily circumvent the filters using well-known proxies. 

The network-level filters were installed at the behest of the government, who threatened to legislate if ISPs didn’t offer them to all customers by the start of last year. As previously noted, TalkTalk was way ahead of the pack when it came to implementing the filters. Coincidentally, TalkTalk’s chief executive, Dido Harding, is married to a Conservative MP. 

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