Porn filters block sex education, not all porn, UK study finds

Sites about relationships, rape and sexual abuse are being blocked automatically, a study has found, while hardcore porn is readily accessible.

Porn filters employed by the UK's biggest ISPs are failing to block all smut -- but they're much more effective at preventing access to sex education, according to a new study.

Some sites giving information on relationships, rape and sexual abuse and domestic violence are being blocked automatically, the BBC's Newsnight programme found, while hardcore porn is readily accessible.

BT and Sky have recently added 'parental controls' by default, while TalkTalk has had filters since 2011. Virgin is currently running a pilot scheme, with filters due next year.

TalkTalk was found to be blocking BishUK.com, a well-known site that gives teenagers advice on sex and relationships, and the Edinburgh Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, deeming them both pornographic.

BT prevents users accessing similar sites, such as Sexual Health Scotland and the Doncaster Domestic Abuse Helpline. Sky was found to be blocking six sites that help people overcome porn addiction.

Actual smut, meanwhile, is passing through the filters unhindered. Newsnight attempted to access 68 popular porn sites -- all in the name of research, you understand -- on different ISPs and found it could access at least one of them on every provider. TalkTalk failed to block five sites chock-full of dirty pics and videos.

BT's new filter rolled out earlier this week, forcing new users to choose between 'Parental Controls' or 'unrestricted access to online content'. It follows calls from the government for Web companies to protect "the innocence of our children".

"Categorisations are constantly updated to keep pace with changing content on the internet and we will investigate any concerns and make changes as necessary," a BT spokesperson told the BBC. "BT Parental Controls can be customised to suit each individual family's needs."

Are Internet filters helping you control what your kids have access to? Are you worried they'll just go round a mate's house, or look at it on their phone? Have you found useful sites blocked? Let me know what you think down in the comments, or on our family-friendly Facebook page.

 

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