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#Public Sector

UK ISP level porn filters blocking legitimate sex education, abuse support sites

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Internet porn filters backed by UK Prime Minister David Cameron and implemented by Sky, TalkTalk, BT and Virgin Media are not only blocking sites distributing adult content, but are also blocking sex education, and rape and abuse support sites as well, a new study has found.

According to a research carried out by BBC, the porn filter are behind rather erratically and found that the definition of ‘pornographic’ content seemingly differs from ISP to ISP. The study has found that while all ISPs are not able to block adult content and pornographic sites a 100 percent of the times, they are also blocking some of the most popular rape and sexual abuse help centres, porn addiction sites and sex education sites which are visited by millions of users across the UK.

For instance, the porn filter in place by TalkTalk was only able to identify 93 percent of the sample porn sites and on top of that blocked content from award-winning sex education sites like BishUK.com and Edinburgh’s Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre.

On the other hand Sky’s filter managed to block just about 100 percent of the sample 68 adult sites, but also blocked sites known for offering porn addiction advice.

The one implemented by BT blocked sites that provided sex education advice as well as assistance and support on tackling domestic abuse like the Reducing The Risk and the Domestic Abuse Helpline.

It seems that the primary reason behind such a behaviour is the fact that major of the ISP level filters have been developed by Americans and as Smith puts it, “Sometimes these are American companies that have slightly different cultural values to us.”

“For example, they might offer to block sex education sites for parents that want to deal with the topic at home. This means that ISPs don’t always have direct control or immediate access to what gets blocked”, Mike Deri Smith, the freelance journalist who conducted the study on behalf of BBC, told the Independent.