ISPs Reporting That UK's Web Filters Being Activated By Less Than 10% Of New Customers

from the more-porn-for-the-rest-of-us! dept

To call the UK's institution of ISP-level web filters "stupid" isn't just being blithely dismissive. For one, they don't work. They block the wrong stuff. They let offensive stuff in. They're easily circumvented. They're advance scouts for government censorship. The only people who think web filtering is a good thing are those with the power to turn pet projects into national laws.

Add one more to the list: they're hugely unpopular.

Broadband customers are overwhelmingly choosing not to use parental-control systems foisted on ISPs by the government - with take-up in the single digits for three of the four major broadband providers…

Only 5% of new BT customers signed up, 8% opted in for Sky and 4% for Virgin Media. TalkTalk rolled out a parental-control system two years before the government required it and has had much better take-up of its offering, with 36% of customers signing up for it.
Those pushing for filters would have you believe it's something the public has been clamoring for to help them protect their children from the many evils of the internet. In reality, hardly anyone appears to care all that deeply about hooking up to a pre-censored connection.

There's more than simply unpopularity going on here. The numbers skew low for several reasons. At this point, the rollout isn't 100% complete and isn't being offered to every new customer (something that becomes a requirement in 2015). Virgin Media (somewhat ironically) has been hooking customers up with the filthiest internet. Techs for that company have only been presenting the "unavoidable choice" to a little over a third of its new signups. Other ISPs techs have been more thorough, presenting new customers with the option nearly every time.

Many service providers say it's also possible the filtering has been activated post-installation (Ofcom's report only tracks filtering enabled at the time of install) or that customers are already using device-based filters.

Despite all of these factors, I wouldn't expect adoption numbers to rise much. People generally don't like the government telling them what they can and can't access. Illegal content is already blocked at ISP level (as well as by several search engines), so what's being added is nothing more than a governmental parent to watch over citizens' shoulders as they surf the web. Those with children would probably prefer to run an open pipe and filter content at the device level. Not everyone in a household needs to be treated like a child, which is exactly what these filters (and their proponents) do.

Beyond that, activating a web filter goes against human nature, especially the exertion of free will and the general avoidance of embarrassment. Most people view themselves as "good" and uninterested in the long list of internet vices (porn being the most popular). But even if they truly believe they'd never view this content, they'd rather have it arrive unfiltered than be forced to approach their ISP weeks (or minutes…) later like a bit-starved Oliver Twist and ask, "Please, sir. May I have some porn?"


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 3:39am

    "Many service providers say it's also possible the filtering has been activated post-installation (Ofcom's report only tracks filtering enabled at the time of install) or that customers are already using device-based filters."

    ...and that's all you really need to know. The official report has numbers that are known to omit at least set of important figures, so they will never be accepted as accurate no matter how low the numbers are. Politicians will just wave off criticisms as people not knowing the whole story and pretend that the demand outside of the official figures is massive.

    Meanwhile, of course, even the watchdog in charge of monitoring this knows that the industry was already supplying filters for those who demanded it, so it's already an admitted waste of time.

     

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  2.  
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    Michael, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 4:31am

    Re:

    I am sure the uptake of customers adding on the filters after they have signed up is a HUGE number.

    I mean just the other day I called my broadband provider and said "Hello. I could use some help. Every time I search for 'hardcore, a** f***ing, hair pulling, sloppy sex' I get pages and pages of content I would not like to see. Could you please filter that out for me?" They told me that they would put me on their "eat a bowl of dicks" list, so I assume it is all being filtered now.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 4:41am

    Re: Re:

    Don't forget that GCHQ will be making a visit to you shortly for your fetish for Diana.

    /Mail.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 4:43am

    Apparently those Filter Me numbers will increase dramatically soon due to the planned opt-out only nature. I'm sure this will be touted as proof the public wants this more than ever. They will say stupid things like 'People are not opting out because they like it'.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 4:44am

    Re: Re:

    What's with the new "eat a bowl of dicks" craze?

    Are the children off school again?

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 4:46am

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:13am

    Re: Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Whatever (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:14am

    Of course, there is no discussion of how the filters are presented or "sold" by the ISP to the users. Is it a box on a form that is pre-checked to turn it off, or requires and answer to get past? Are the sales people doing the form filling and just skipping over it? Was it offered, or turned on with a requirement for the user to call to have it deactivated?

    We don't know.

    Is the 4% (example) from the total install base, or 4% of new sign ups? Are new signups taking it more often?

    Do the parents really care, or are they more concerned that their searches for (insert adult thing here) might get blocked and make them frustrated?

     

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  9.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:17am

    Re:

    Please, do inform us of the results of your pending research in this area.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:19am

    Re:

    They would be wrong, in that lack of requests for turning off the filter will be more like people only visiting a few sites, and never encountering the filter. The people who pushed to make the filter mandatory are either/or lazy parents and people who think they can dictate what other people are allowed to see.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:30am

    Re: Re:

    This is true. In addition, those who do opt out will put on several lists including but not limited to; sex offender, terrorist, and ne'er-do-well.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:32am

    I guess they've now found out 90% of the UK citizens are pedophiles! Mission accomplished




























    /s

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re:

    Don't expect Whatever to back up anything he says.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 6:27am

    instead of looking at how many people have the filtering turned on, it would be far better to look at what sites are being blocked. i'll bet a dime to a dollar that there are 100 file sharing websites at least to every child porn site or general porn sdite. anyone with half a brain will know that this wasn't done to 'protect the children'. it was done to make Cameron look like he was helping keep the UK internet users from downloading music and movies which are mostly from the RIAA and MPAA. we all know as well that these industries have bank rolled Obama and he has to be seen to be doing something for them in return. as there is little censorship happening in the USA, convincing other leaders to do the dirty work has the same effect. the trouble is, everyone suffers from this. in particular the industries that not only dont pay to have the censorship implemented or checked, they also, more importantly, dont have to drag their arses kicking and screaming into the C21 by giving customers sites that compete with file sharing sites. by competing with i mean give out drm free downloadable copies that are at least as good quality-wise and download at good speeds and are 'format changeable'. until any government and court realises what the industries are up to, nothing is gonna change. this 'wack a mole' will continue with the only sufferers being the customers!

     

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  15.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 6:36am

    Re:

    "Of course, there is no discussion of how the filters are presented or "sold" by the ISP to the users."

    Probably because they have been discussed before. Someone with intellectual honesty would take a minute to at least look at the previous stories here (if not actually perform some research) before posting paragraphs of drivel about guesses they pull from their nether regions about what it could be in their chosen realm of fantasy.

    But, you have no honesty, have you?

    "We don't know."

    Correction: WE do, and the information is freely available. If you choose to remain utterly ignorant, that's your choice.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 6:50am

    I'm opting out of censorship. It appears I'm not the only one.

     

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  17.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 6:54am

    Re: Re:

    I'm sure that you're right, later uptake rates are likely no higher than uptake with new activations. However, we're both simply assuming. Having actual evidence would be very helpful here.

     

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  18.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:15am

    Re:

    Do the parents really care, or are they more concerned that their searches for (insert adult thing here) might get blocked and make them frustrated?


    Or maybe the parents are simply opting to parent their children as they see fit and choosing not to rely on government cyber-nannys to do it.

    The fastest way to piss off a group of parents is to start telling them how they should raise their own children.

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:31am

    Re:

    no they wont! did you know that its opt-in not opt-out! (also the ISP and the government made a deal that active choice "opt in" be rename default on)so no they wont be increasing anytime soon (but we may seeing "fake" reports saying they are)

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    now you are just making stuff up, we don't know if there a list yet (most ISP say there is no list) but if there is that would be a huge list to go throw (also we are all probably on some kind of list already)

     

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  21.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 8:47am

    Re:

    "there is no discussion"

    All of these items have been discussed frequently both here and in the UK for a long while now, so they aren't actually unknowns.

    (BTW, why was Whatever's comment hidden? I see nothing flag-worthy about it.)

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    michael, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 11:30am

    Those who ignore history ...

    Am I the only one who remembers the V-Chip?

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 5:35pm

    Re: Re:

    Whatever posting doesn't set off a few flags for you?

    Your tolerance is legendary.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 6:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "we don't know if there a list yet"

    - How naive.

     

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  25.  
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    Whatever (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 11:13pm

    Re: Re:

    Probably because they have been discussed before.

    Hi Paul, so nice to see you again. Still have that issue?

    My question isn't how it's sold in theory, but how it's sold in reality. Are the agents truly offering it, or are they saying "you don't want blocking, do you?" or "you don't have kids, do you?" and making an assumption. The uptake level on things is often related to their presentation and how the agents present them. So I am curious to see how they are actually being presented to the public at time of signup.

    WE do, and the information is freely available.

    Cool, so you won't mind providing a link to an example of the real world sales pitch used on these things, right?

    Oh wait, you don't have it. That's too bad.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Whatever (profile), Jul 23rd, 2014 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Re:

    I asked the questions because I don't have the answers. I am not planning research on it, I was only saying it might be a good part of the discussion and hope someone had an answer.

    Thanks for you input.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 12:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    "Still have that issue?"

    The issue with a dishonest poster who has a pathological need to be a contrarian against every point raised in every thread? The one who gums up every thread he's in with distortions and lies, and refuses to either answer direct questions or admit he's wrong when proven to be? The one who makes provably wrong assertions in every thread, even though read the actual article he's responding to would prove his assertions wrong half the time? The one who mysteriously disappears from every conversation whenever concrete proof is shown, only to return to another thread with the same debunked fictions?

    Yes, apparently I do.

    "Oh wait, you don't have it"

    See, there's no point talking with such a dishonest person as you. Like all of your assumptions, you've made up your own "facts" in your mind before commenting. You have to act like the smug prick, even before giving me a chance to answer. But, when I've answered such things in the past, directly and with links - you've either ignored the post and deflected the conversation to something else, or you've just disappeared from the conversation entirely.

    You're astoundingly dishonest in every conversation. You can keep showing it if you wish, but I do wonder what strange illness compels you to do so.

     

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  28.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 5:27am

    If I wanted filters I'd simply use more trustworthy sources. I currently have OpenDNS filter malware and one or two categories more. Even when it blocks I can CHOOSE to turn off such filters with a single click.

    Opt-in and easily turned off with decent efficiency because there is incentive to be efficient (otherwise people would avoid em).

     

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  29.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 5:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Even if you link all the discussion he'll pretend it didn't happen. Don't bother. I tried a while back, he spewed his usual bs and a later article (with plenty of reputable sources) proved him wrong. Even them he "questioned" the experts showing the facts as if he was the almighty wise man that was cosmically right. I'll adopt a more or less "ignore" policy now replying some valid points (even if he is playing words with them) because even trolls rise valid points at times but the answer is to ignore him. After a while being ignored he'll go away. Happened with plenty of trolls, including the seemingly zealot ootb (or he died much for our delight, which would make me quite but not entirely unlike sad if it was true).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    Ninja (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 5:35am

    Re: Re:

    He's a blatant troll just like ootb was. This was happening with his comments, they were being insta-hidden after he got well known enough.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    PaulT (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "After a while being ignored he'll go away. Happened with plenty of trolls, including the seemingly zealot ootb"

    Did he go away, or just change his name? Anyway, until this one actually devolves into a blubbering, swearing, tantrum-throwing mess like a couple of his predecessors, I'll probably continue to prod in the hope of an honest answer. I should probably find another source of entertainment during my slow work periods, but this is where I am for the minute.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 8:50pm

    Re:

    Do the parents really care, or are they more concerned that their searches for (insert adult thing here) might get blocked and make them frustrated?
    The majority of parents in the UK really care, and that's why they don't want a web filter they can't control to ensure their kids don't get past it. Now I'm reloading my (illegal) 9 millimetre so as to be ready to shoot down your next strawman.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 9:07pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    @ Ninja: It was me who first flagged Whatever as a troll in this post last month, but nasch told me off for spotting the emerging pattern.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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