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Image credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sky to turn porn filters on for all new broadband customers

Protection, whether you like it or not.
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Image Credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Soon, Sky's home broadband will come with its adult content blocker switched on by default. From the moment a new package is "activated," subscribers will find that the company's Broadband Shield is enabled with child-friendly settings. That means only sites suitable for 13-year-olds or younger will be accessible before 9pm, followed by anything compatible with its 18-rating thereafter. To change or turn off these settings, you'll need to dive into your MySky account and set your preferences manually.

It's the final step that changes Sky's Broadband Shield into an opt-out, rather than opt-in service. The company has been toying with the idea since last January, when it sent an email to customers who hadn't yet made a decision about the content blocker. It was an obligatory choice, because Sky automatically enabled the service for anyone that chose to ignore it. Sky says it will repeat this process for all Sky Broadband customers that joined after November 2013, when Broadband Shield was launched, and still have it switched off. Presumably, that includes the people who expressly said that they didn't want it before.

Parental controls, commonly referred to as porn filters, are pretty unpopular in the UK. The latest research by Ofcom shows that only 14 percent of TalkTalk, 12 percent of Virgin Media and 6 percent of BT customers currently have them enabled. That figure jumps to somewhere between 30 and 40 percent for Sky, which isn't surprising given the lengths the company has gone to to encourage adoption.

The company says it's switching the service on by default to make it "as easy as possible" for families to protect themselves from the darker corners of the web. "The simplest thing we can do to help them is to automatically turn on filtering and then allow customers to easily choose and change their settings," Lyssa McGowan, Director of Communications Products for Sky said. "This means they can have complete peace of mind that they will protected online from the word go."

The NSPCC has also supported the move, calling it a "no-brainer."

Sky hasn't stated exactly when the initiative will come into effect; it's merely given an ambiguous "2016" timeframe. Ultimately, the company's Broadband Shield will still be an optional service and you'll be able to switch it off at any time. For some users though, especially those who said they didn't want it last time, it'll be an annoyance to specify that they're quite happy with full access to the World Wide Web.

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