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Sky turns on adult content filter for all new broadband customers

Monday, December 21st 2015 by Ellen Branagh

Sky’s adult content blocker will be automatically turned on for all new broadband customers as standard in 2016, the company has announced.

In the future Sky Broadband Shield, which lets people filter which websites are seen in their home, will be switched on for new customers when their broadband is first activated.

Currently new customers are asked whether they want to use the filter, which allows them to filter what sites can be accessed, as well as protecting against malware-infected or phishing sites.

It also has a watershed feature with adjustable settings that use age rating options to restrict sites.

The Broadband Shield was launched in November 2013 and was offered to all existing Sky Broadband customers, with new customers having the option to turn it on as they set up their broadband.

Earlier this year Sky emailed all of its broadband customers who had joined before the launch of the Broadband Shield but hadn’t made a choice about whether they wanted it.

If there was no response it was automatically turned on, and 62% of those customers have kept some form of parental control, Sky said.

As part of changes announced today, Sky said it will repeat the process for all Sky Broadband customers who have joined since November 2013 and have not turned on the Broadband Shield, meaning it will be automatically providing filtering to all of its new customers.

The move will begin in 2016 but exact timings have not yet been given.

Lyssa McGowan, director of communications products at Sky, said: “Customers have really come to appreciate the value of Sky Broadband Shield in protecting their families from unwanted and potentially harmful internet content.

“What we have learnt is that as well as the flexibility to set the right level of protection for their homes, they also want us to make it as easy as possible for them.

'No-brainer'

“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.

“This means they can have complete peace of mind that they will protected online from the word go.”

The first time a new Sky Broadband customer visits the internet they will be informed that the Broadband Shield is on.

The filtering system will be automatically set to 13 until 9pm and then 18 afterwards unless it is amended.

Customers can amend the settings or turn the shield off by logging into MySky with their password.

Sky Broadband Shield works across all devices connected to Sky Broadband, including laptops, tablets, smartphones and game consoles.

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said the move was a “big step forward” in keeping children safe online.

“We hope other internet providers will follow Sky's example and automatically turn on parental controls for all broadband customers.

“Frankly this is a no-brainer; default filters on home broadband put children's safety first while still giving adults the freedom to remove them.”

But he said filters are only one part of parents’ online safety ‘toolkit’, and it is also vital to talk to children about potential online risks.

Baroness Shields, minister for internet safety and security, added: "Family filters have proven to be an extremely helpful tool for parents to safeguard children from age-inappropriate content.

“Sky's ‘default on’ approach is a great example of how industry is exploring different technologies to help keep children safe online."

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