UK broadband providers now pushing porn filters on existing customers

The UK’s four largest broadband providers are making their existing customers decide whether or not to turn on adult content filters.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have all been pressured into implementing the filters by the UK government, with some ISPs even interrupting their customers’ browsing to get them to decide whether or not to activate them.

Read more: Online censorship alert: David Cameron says Internet cannot be ‘ungoverned’

Previously, it was only new customers that had to decide on the controversial filters, but the UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s December deadline now means all customers must decide.

BT customers will now be redirected to a page asking them about filters, with browsing only able to resume once a decision has been made. Sky and Virgin Media, meanwhile, have chosen to utilise a similar process, but customers are allowed to continue browsing without making a decision. TalkTalk customers have to choose whether or not to activate the filters when logging on to their accounts.

The implementation of the so-called “porn-filters” has been heavily criticised as a form of Internet censorship and for being largely ineffective. The filter's primary goal is to stop children from accessing inappropriate content, but indecent pictures can still be accessed through Google images.

Several incidents have also been recorded of the filters incorrectly blocking websites that do not contain indecent or graphic adult content. TalkTalk’s filter prevented customers from visiting an award-winning sex education site, while BT inadvertently blocked a site for domestic abuse charities.

Ofcom recently revealed that the porn filters had been overwhelmingly rejected by the British public, with TalkTalk the only provider to see uptake in excess of 10 per cent.

Read more: One in five websites blocked in the UK by overactive porn filters

Any broadband customers who wish to avoid making a decision on adult content will have to switch to a smaller Internet service provider (ISP) such as EE or Plusnet, as only larger ISPs are required to ask their customers.